Executive portraits are always in demand and some photographers choose this area as their sole means of income from photography. The reason being twofold; the demand is high and the rates can be as high as double or more of normal studio portraits. Many portrait photographers underestimate the potential of executive portraits so there is a ready market available. But what do you need to know to be a professional executive portrait photographer?
Many executives need portraits for annual reports, promotions, in-houses publications and many other company uses. Local newspapers also need portraits of executives for their news stories. There is a large market in industry for this kind of specialized portrait alone. These types of portraits are very different from family portraits or other people portraits, both in style and location.
Executive portraits emphasize the leadership abilities of the individual and are generally photographed at his desk, a part of his office, the boardroom, outside the factory or offices or in the business environment somewhere within the company. So the angle is generally broader and a larger range of lenses come into use.
The simplest executive portrait is the head and shoulders portrait and can be treated as any other typical portrait. This is the type of portrait that may hang in the boardroom or some office area. For photographing an executive sitting at the desk a 55mm lens is generally used. If the office space is small or more of the environment is required you may need to go down to a 35mm or even a 28mm lens. A 28mm is pushing the boundaries because of distortion, so use this lens with care. Usually executive portraits are from the waste up or leaning on the desk. Good depth-of-field is required as there will probably be some areas of interest in the office such as framed Degrees, Honorary Certificates or other business chattels.
As you will be traveling, equipment is an important consideration. Usually a two flash setup is sufficient and discard the idea of hot floods as they make the shoot uncomfortable for both the client and yourself. You can put a white card on the desk to reflect light back to the client’s face. However you can only do this if the reflector does not get in the way of the photograph. An umbrella for each strobe is essential for light softening: a certain amount hard light can be good in executive portraits but not excessively. You will also want to eliminate distracting shadows associated with hard flash lighting.
This simple setup provides you with sufficient equipment to light the background and the subject; whilst maintaining a fairly compact travel kit. Have a look at executive portraits if you like portraiture; it can be very rewarding and lucrative if you tick all the boxes for the client. Consult reputable online photography courses to find further detailed information on executive portraiture.