Thursday, 16 September 2010

Photographing the Boss – How to photograph CEO’s - Tips for PR photographers

Photographing the Boss – How to photograph CEO’s

Tips for PR photographers

1) Don’t quote yourself short – In my experience giving too cheap a quote means people won’t take you seriously and if you get the gig then you’re stuck with a client that pays peanuts….think about it.(don’t be a monkey)

2) Ask what it's for - Always bear in mind the potential usage of the image when working out your copyright specification and quote. It would be unrealistic for anyone to expect to pay the same for a head shot for a company website as they would for the front page of a magazine.

3) Check the brief - Ensure your brief has a clear and concise beginning and end with achievable milestones in the middle. If there are any uncertainties you should speak to the PR people /client before the shoot. I often sketch out my own brief with a shot list before I go to the job.

4) Question the brief - You aim is to fulfill the brief but also to bring ideas to the table. If you look at the brief and think ‘this is dull’ then call them and propose something more exciting. The client may have a reason for the shots being a certain way or just hadn’t been inspired enough to come up with something creative. They will always appreciate some creative input.

5) Test your lighting - When setting up you your lighting, or even just using on camera flash, be sure to test your exposure before you start posing the subject. It removes the margin of error, saves time and stops you looking amateurish. With this in mind only use equipment that your happy with. Photographing the boss and messing around trying to get your new lights working is a recipe for disaster.

6) Select your locations carefully - Always look for a location that has a few different possibilities and has options in bad weather. I photographed an executive from a logistics company recently and the PR staff wanted a shot of him in front of the Tyne Bridge. I said fine although why not also do a shot across a busy road with blurred traffic and/or him sat calm and still on a street with people blurred around him (long exposure).

7) Be yourself - Wear smart clothes and by all means shave but do be yourself. In my experience of celebrities, politicians and MP’s the more you treat them like ‘someone special’ the more they don’t respond to you as a normal person. They generally have people that flap around them making a fuss so make sure you aren’t one of those people. Relax and be chatty, ask what they do for kicks, football, hobbies etc. As a photographer you are very different to them and don’t let them intimidate you.

8) Explain yourself - The person who is being photographed may not have a clue what it’s for or how it’s going to be done. I always give a 30 second explanation of the different locations and set-ups. I won’t go into the technical data but I reassure the subject that it won’t hurt and contrary to popular belief their soul will remain in one piece.

9) Take your time - Don’t feel like your holding someone away from an important meeting. You’re getting paid for your expertise and your time. An ideal shoot should run on to time and if you have time left why not do some candid’s of the subject strolling down the street, reading a newspaper, whatever…..

10) Ensure your asked back - By being polite, interested and interesting you should hopefully get referrals and repeat business from your clients. Do not be afraid to give cards to the CEO or whoever. It’s the way business is done and always remembers to have business card on you at all times….you just never know…

Feel free to add to this list….just thought I’d get a few ideas in…..


  1. 9) "...You’re getting paid for your expertise and your time."

    You have simply been asked to produce some images and provide them with those images, because they 'want to use' them.
    So the fee (Licence fee) is simply for the use of your images (unless you have agreed to 'work for hire').

    Your aim is therefore to produce & provide images that they will 'want to use'... a lot - which is a win, win situation for everyone, should you succeed.

  2. "Explain yourself - The person who is being photographed may not have a clue what it’s for or how it’s going to be done."

    This is so true - I have been on shoots where I was given 30 seconds and another where the guy thought we were going to take all day. It is always best to allocate an amount of time from the outset - you all know where you stand then.

    Steve Nichols
    Author of "Better PR and Editorial Photography" - see