On a weekly basis we receive emails from graduate or young amateur photographers asking us for advice on how to become a corporate photographer. We reply asking for samples of their photography and if they have had any experience in corporate work. The majority of the email replies have no corporate portfolio or experience.
If you want to get into corporate headshot and event photography then it is essential that you gain experience by offering to assist or shadow a professional corporate photographer over a series of varied commissions listening to their advice and guidance. It can be a struggle to get to this position as it means the photographer will have to factor the extra person into their day to day business. Once you have gained this experience you will need to put a corporate photography portfolio together to show potential clients that you can assist them with their photographic marketing. This is the catch 22 though as how do you create a corporate portfolio if you need to have one in place already so you can undertake commissions. We suggest that you use family and friends to capture headshots and business portraits. Also offer to undertake work with no fees so you can get access to corporate offices and London business events and conferences. This can a long process but it will greatly benefit your chances of becoming a corporate photographer.
A good bit of advice for the budding corporate photographer is to ask why they want to pursue a career in this field of photography. Do not assume that as your client base will be in the financial sector that you will be earning more than you would in another business sector. That is not the correct reason for choosing this career. You need to be very inspired and interested in generic corporate photography and how your photographic style can benefit businesses and what your photography will bring to their corporate marketing.
Be careful not to confuse corporate photography with commercial and business photography. There is a difference as commercial work can be any photographic service such as product, retail, property, interiors, location, people and many more. Corporate work tends to be headshots, portraits and event work.
Once you have a decent corporate photography portfolio then the next tip and advice is to start marketing as you will not get any business if people do not see you what you can offer. There are several ways to do this and it can become a full time job in itself but you have to find what best works for you. Networking, SEO, advertising and recommendation all have a part in you becoming a successful corporate photographer.
Rates charged for different corporate photography services.
In our last post we discussed corporate photographer prices and how best photographers can set the correct costs for their photography. This leads on to another subject as photography rates can vary depending on which service you are supplying the client.
To help us discuss this point we will breakdown the corporate photography services into three sectors. These are events, headshots and reportage/lifestyle.
Let us start with corporate event photography. This needs to be charged out at the lower end of the client’s budget as this requires the least amount of professional photography kit. A good camera and variety of Lens and with a mobile flash system. For these reasons you will have more photographers available and competing for the work. Events taking place during the working day can be charged out slightly higher but evening and weekend events can be covered by keen amateurs and for that reason if you want to compete you need your rates to be lower than other services.
The second service I would like to look at is corporate headshots and portraits. These carry a greater need for professional lighting, background rigs, studio rates, moving large amounts of kit around London which will require more expensive travel. For these reasons corporate headshot rates are higher and vary greatly depending on what style and set up the client requires. What I mean by this is that if an individual wants a London location headshot with The City in the background then the photographer will only need camera and some fill in flash. However if an individual requires a full studio set up with background and diffused flash lighting in a hire studio then the costs incurred by the photographer are going to push the second option in a higher price bracket.
Of course there are factors that can fluctuate prices but on the whole clients will need to pay more for a professional corporate headshot at a studio or at their offices.
The last corporate photography service is reportage or lifestyle. This is interesting as two factors come into play here. You do not need much professional photography kit but you will spend much more time on this style of service and you will need to be very experienced to create a good library of corporate reportage photographs. Capturing reportage of natural photographs of people working in a corporate environment means spending time watching out for interesting images, spotting potential moments and being aware of situations that might bring together a generic corporate photograph. This all takes plenty of time and as photographers charge out for their time this will make reportage a more expensive option for clients.
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Corporate Photography Prices. This has always been a tricky one for any corporate photographer or any type photographer, how much should you charge?
I certainly do not have the correct answer but I can review my experiences with clients and other corporate photographer prices over many years. When we used to still shot on film and deliver prints you had a product to mark up and you could add a reasonable day rate onto your invoice after you had taken into account studio costs or location travel. With the advent of digital things became a little less structured and the need for large studios reduced and digital images to not have any physical day to day costs. So where do you base your corporate photography prices on? You have your basic overheads, kit, car, studio hire etc and after those it is what kind of profit you need to further build your business and create the lifestyle you require. But the one thing controlling your profits is what clients will pay for your services. Most companies and individuals when needing corporate photography will get quotes in from at least a few photographers who like the look of their work. Prices will not be the only factor but it will be a major factor. Style of photography, communicating the service, availability and timescales all factor into their decision on who they will hire as their corporate photographer.
You can look at the market place and what other corporate photographers are charging. Some put fees and rates on their website but the majority do not. We have been asked by young photographers what they should charge. We have been contacted by other photographers under the pretence that they were a client and need to know costs for a commission. We have even had an email from another corporate photographer in London telling us that we were under charging on a commission and that we should increase our fees and to stop under cutting the market.
We think that when you sit down to set your corporate photography prices you have to decide what you need to earn survive and then you have your basic prices. After this it really comes down to wether you want to drive a new Rolls Royce or a ten year old second hand car. As with most things in business its a learning curve and offering discounts in poor economic times and making hay while the sun shines is all common sense and as your business hopefully grows you get to know what your photography clients will feel happy with.
You can follow these suggested corporate photography freelance rates but I am not sure how high or low budget corporate photography would differ and I can be sure all our clients would choose low budget please but high standard.
© Corporate Photography London.
It can often be assumed that corporate portraits and headshots need to be taken with a white background. Most clients that get in touch with us will book us to come along to their offices and ask if we can bring a background as their offices are not that modern or fitted out poorly. We often would turn at their building and notice that if we captured their corporate headshots without a background we could utilise their offices by shooting the headshots on a long lens and blurred the background by having a narrow depth of field and therefore having the background out of focus. The more we did this for clients the better you become at seeing the possibilities in the colours and shapes that are created when you capture headshots this way.
Shooting images with intentional blurring caused by having areas out of focus is called Bokeh by the Japanese and as you practise this you see how colours and shapes can be adapted by the amounts of blur and exposure you employ.
The headshot below was taken in a very plain office and we blurred the background and used the light coming from the window to create the soft graduated grey effects.
The above headshot we used the blue cladding on a office building across the street and a interesting and original background.
The above was taken at office on Victoria Street and we used the corner of the window and blurred the office blinds and allowed some blue sky to come through.
Here we used a tree lined street as the background and the green from the trees creating a dappled effect and we under exposed the background.
The above was captured in a very basic one room office but the blurred effect work really well to cover over and unsightly area of the office.
Photography © Corporate Photography London.
In our last post we wrote about putting video onto our new website and now we are having to look at how we should design the site. We have plenty of help from our website designers and programmers who are a great bunch of people but we have to set out what we require from them to do what they do.
When we first set up the site with WordPress we looked at what other photographers were putting together for their portfolios and noticed that wedding photographers were a few steps ahead of what commercial photographers were doing. We really like the work and website of wedding photographers Jacob and Pauline which is beautifully designed and the content flows well. Also we were impressed by the photography and website design of Andrew Prokos who had a lot of content and information on his site but managed to keep it looking simple and easy to navigate.
In the end we settled on a design which was taken from a news item which we found on the BBC website Although this had nothing to do with photography as the subject we really were impressed by the design of the pages and how large amounts of imagery and content were easily navigated and information imparted in a simple way. Being able to navigate the entire site by simply scrolling is something we are big fans of and will be moving our site forward with large icon images for each of our corporate photography services and with the smaller scroll strip containing further examples and information about what we offer clients in London.
Above is our design for our corporate photography London page with a scrolling strip showing varies styles of our location corporate images with content explaining what we offer.
Here is our corporate event photography design again with a full page image and further samples scrolling down.
Lastly we have a corporate video page with live action clips and a scrolling strip moving up and down depending if you want to read the text or watch the video content.