21 Aug Taking the Dread out of Picture Day: Getting Creative with Portraits
“I just don’t want my picture to look like ‘school picture day,’ you know?”
I have to laugh when I hear this because all I can think about are my terrible middle school pictures. You know what I’m referring to. They are the photos where you’re all nose and teeth, awkwardly posed on a 1980s background. They’re so ugly that even your mom won’t them on the display.
I get why some people are nervous. Bad experiences can taint your perspective toward portraits. We also live in an age where everyone has to be the most creative and visually better than their competitors online. If you throw in the natural insecurities that (a few) people have, it is easy to see why some people would be apprehensive.
Instead of focusing on “school picture day,” think about your company, branding guidelines, and how you intend to use the photo. If you’re using a small square photo on your site that only shows your shoulders and head, the photo should be less about the background and more about the person in the photo. If you’re using a larger photo – one that shows more of the background and you, then there are a few ways to make your photos look less formal and more natural.
An environmental background can help make you seem more relaxed or “at home” in your portrait (even if you aren’t). Use an office or outdoor scene as your backdrop. You can feature an area that you think is beautiful or use an environment that can help send a visual message to viewers. Companies that want to avoid having the same background for everyone should look into environmental backgrounds as they have the opportunity to offer more variety than a paper backdrop.
Get Creative with Poses
The benefit to using a paper backdrop is that it is easier to replicate and organize than an environmental background. If you prefer to send your staff to the studio as new hires or frequently hold portraits off site (i.e. – at a conference or meeting), a seamless paper backdrop may be the best solutions for you. You can use creative poses to show off the personalities of your staff. This works well if you have a staff that is open to creativity and likes to have fun.
Use a Prop
This is a fun trend for companies. To show off their creative and fun side, some companies take a formal portrait and a prop pose. When you scroll over their formal portrait, the funny prop pose pops up in the same spot.
Embrace Artistic Lighting
If you want to stand out in your field, you may want to embrace an artistic look. Artistic lighting doesn’t always have to be dark, but dramatic lighting can be beautiful and visually powerful. In order for these shots to be successful, you have to allow the photographer to have a little more time to adjust the lighting and work through a few poses.
This is the key to a beautiful portrait. No one looks good when they’re stressed out, so it is important to let the photographer work with you to get the best smile, pose, and lighting that works for you. I can’t tell you how many people leave a portrait session talking about how much fun they had and how it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be. Just breathe, and let the photographer do the hard stuff.
Getting a portrait doesn’t have to be a headache, and it should never feel like “school photo day.” In fact, you should feel like you want to have the photo framed for mom. (I bet she’d put that one on display.)