deCroce blog of photography

Better Business Business Executive Portraits

How to create better professional executive portrait and corporate head-shots…  advice from a pro photographer.  

by Edward deCroce


The most important tip for a better professional head shot and executive portrait photograph is to RELAX.
Be yourself.





The first question from executives is what colors to wear.  I always tell them to wear what will allow them to feel their best.  But I also say that no matter what your skin tone is, a dark toned jacket is preferable.  I like subtle color shirts or blouses better than white, but in a group shot, everyone in blue shirts can look a little contrived.  Avoid wild patterns and shapes and stay away from colors draw attention to themselves.  Whatever you put on should not take away from your face.
Be sure clothes are well pressed.


I always recommend that my clients employ the services of a professional make-up artist.  These folks have a magic that no amount of post production editing and retouching can match.  Great make-up for a business portrait, is the kind that doesn’t draw attention to itself.
The most important  is for the skin to be UN-shiny.  Modern skin care products are made with the intent to add moisture to your face.  But for your photo-shoot, your face should be as oil-free as possible.
Hair should be the way you like it, but tame.  Bring your comb or brush to the shoot.  I’ve had more than one client who loved everything about the photo-shoot except wild hair.  Many clients experiment with several hair styles and clothes changes for their executive portrait photo-shoot.


Remember that a photograph is a reflection of light.  From Greek, photo means light and graphos means writing/painting, thus we are painting with light.
When choosing jewelry try to keep it simple.  Shiny objects will usually find reflection in a big glaring way.  I always bring a can of black spray paint to take care of overly glittery jewelry.
Get a manicure.  And use lotion on your hands arms and neck.  Dry skin and cuticles can look flaky in a photograph, especially in dry mountain air.


Avoiding a double chin look in your portrait is easy once you learn the trick.  But it might feel a little weird at first.  When you first learn to ski, your body’s natural instinct was to lean back as you pick up too much speed.  But you soon learned that the secret for control is to lean forward.  Keeping the weight forward makes it easier to turn your skis.   When we’re being photographed, we might be feeling a bit apprehensive.  The body wants to pull back,  the eyes want to bulge and the forehead wants to wrinkle, as if to say “oh really?”  Luckily our brains can detect and counter innate reflexes.  From the back of your neck, let your chin drop.  Now turn your ear toward the camera as though you’re trying to hear better.  It can feel a little awkward at first, but soon you’ll notice that it’s actually very natural.  Make it yours!
As the photo shoot progresses, remind yourself to relax your forehead and your eyes.  You want to look alert and interesting, wise and friendly.  Avoid the “deer in the headlights” appearance by simply looking through the lens instead of at it.  Imagine that the camera lens is the photographers eyes (or better yet the eyes of a loved one), rather than an inanimate object. This technique will instantly give you a better photograph.


It’s normal for me or any photographer to rely on the same ideas and poses that we’ve learned from experience work well.  But my style is to listen.  I make a point of observing my clients as we work together.  And as we talk, I might notice something that looks appealing.  An expression or phrase of body language is easier to replicate when it’s yours rather than me (the photographer) trying to fit you into a George Clooney expression.   We’ll usually start with normal shots but as the photo-shoot progresses, and if time permits, we’ll try original compositions.  So bring ideas of your own.  Happy thoughts, or even sad ones, can create a magical expression that will capture a timeless moment.  Your executive portrait photo-shoot will be a fun and fruitfull experience. 



Being photographed is uncomfortable for most of us, even for photographers like me.  But the most important part is to relax.  To make myself a better photographer, I force myself to sit on the other side of the lens often.  And every time I do, I get the same flashback to a dream I had when I was a 6th grader.  In the dream, I was sitting at my desk in school wearing nothing but underwear.  Then, the teacher insisted I stand up and recite part of the Gettysburg Address.  All eyes were on me.  I had NOT done my homework AND I was wearing underwear.

So when I’m being photographed, I’ve learned to do a quick meditative relaxation exercise before and during the photo-shoot.  I simply conjure thoughts from some of the happiest and relaxing moments of my life.
And as a photographer, I engage my client in conversation.  Talking about family drama, sports or even politics are great ways to portray personality and confidence.
.Denver Business Photographers
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