Contextual Executive Portraits

Photographing and Processing Executive Portraits

The standard portrait against a painted background is almost a thing of the past unless it's used as a guide as to who's who in a company.  What executives need today are Contextual Portraits that show them in their environment.  These are much more illustrative and can tell a story about the subject better than any head shot.

The contextual portrait has multiple uses for the subject.  Not only can it be used in corporate printed pieces and on their web sites, but these images can also be submitted to magazines and newspapers for articles that may feature the subject or their company.

David Durant, Blackhawk Network

David Durant, Blackhawk Network

When setting up to photograph one of these sessions, keep in mind you need to be prepared for them. They have meetings to be in and conference calls to be on. They generally don't have time to stand around while you are setting up. That is why I use the Profoto B1 Air lights that are powerful but also battery operated so there are no cables to deal with.  Set up and breakdown is fast and neat.

In this session, I photographed the subject against a large glass logo wall inside their offices.  The glass wall allowed me to place a strip light, back and to the side of the subject, to illuminate the edge of his face.  

The main light was into an umbrella up and to the opposite site to provide the light on the face.  The Profoto B1 lights can be dialed down to blend with your ambient light in the background so this is fantastic way to set up for shallow Depth-Of-Field  and shoot a lot of variety in a short amount of time.

Nikon D4 - 200mm f/2 - set at 4.5 at 1/25th of a second. (ISO 100) Lexar CF card

Here is the lighting set up:

Viewers are always asking how I convert my images from color out of the digital camera to make high quality black and white imagery.  There are several programs on the market today and I am currently using one called Tonality Pro from MacPhun.  Here is a step by step video on how I made this conversion. 

Copyright 2015, Terry VanderHeiden