Tag Archives: portraits

6 Tips from a Corporate Photography Problem Solver

Do you know what it takes to get a finished picture that meets corporate standards?

I thought it might be fun to show you what goes into a final image. For example, one primary task an experienced commercial photographer can deliver is the ability to solve a visual problem.

Let’s take a look at a recent annual report portrait I produced for my good client, Steve Croxson of Croxson Design and his client, Cabot Oil & Gas.

For over 21 years, Steve has produced Cabot’s annual report. As he puts it, “This longevity is an amazing accomplishment in this day and age but, I feel – in part – it’s due to our great working relationship with great shooters like Michael Hart.”

1. Scope the Location: Lighting, Competing Elements

Since I specialize in photography of the executive suite, Steve and I did a walk through a week before our scheduled shoot. We decided on a new location that has never been used before and made assumptions of the final image production.

I pre-visualized the lighting that would be best for the shot, and what post-production tasks were needed to minimize the elements competing for our eye’s attention.

2. Client Comfort & Efficient Work

Cabot Oil & Gas Chairman and CEO Dan Dinges and EVP/CFO Scott Schroeder are a delight to work with, and there is usually much levity when we are together – making my job very easy.

3. OnSite Analysis

We did a significant number of exposures, with minor position tweaks, all visible to Steve on our iPad as we shot photos until we were confident that we had enough options.

Dan O. Dinges, Chairman, President, and CEO, and Scott C. Schroeder, EVP and Chief Financial Officer, Cabot Oil & Gas, Houston, Texas

4. Conduct Due Diligence of Set without Subjects

After the Cabot Oil & Gas executives had left the location, I took a series of exposures of the environment without the lighting used on the subjects. This photoshoot eliminated any light casts and highlights on the ground and ceiling and gave me a clean background image in which to place them digitally.

5. Perfect the Art of PostProduction Editing

The skillful blending of the two image sets, one with subjects and one of the locations alone, helped me lose apparent and unappealing lighting spill captured in the images.

I then removed distracting elements on the ceiling, manipulated the window shades in the background, and added highlights in the railing, which, with its curves leading up to the subjects, helped direct the eye to our guys.

Dan O. Dinges, Chairman, President, and CEO, and Scott C. Schroeder, EVP and Chief Financial Officer, Cabot Oil & Gas, Houston, Texas

6. Continuity is Key

As the photographer, I am the one who has visualized the final image, much like a creative or art director. This ownership makes it easy for me to quickly and precisely make post-production edits.

Knowing Photoshop at an advanced level allows me to control as many elements (if not more) than in the B&W darkroom.

I’m happy to report that my clients are pleased with the results, and I have recently sent this image to current and prospective customers as part of an email marketing campaign.

Pro-Bono Shoot at Fort Hood, Texas

In December I was able to take part in a wonderful program underwritten by The Photo Imaging Manufacturers and Distribution Association (PMDA), called “Portraits of Love.” Photographers across the country volunteer to spend time, either at a base, or opening up their studios, to do family sittings for military families. Sometimes it is the whole family, other times maybe just mom and the kids, as dad is deployed overseas. We post the galleries of images through Shutterfly, the families get a code for 2 free 5X7″ prints, and can of course order more as they desire. Fort Hood is of course the site of the massacre two years ago, so it is kind of a special place to be able to go and provide some measure of comfort for the personnel. As a matter of fact, the building we were in was the actual site of the shooting, so there was an extra bit of gravity we felt just being there.

While our subjects ran the gamut, from eager to shy, and maybe a few little ones who were downright cranky, we were invariably thanked for doing it, and some even mentioned it was the first time they had been able to get the whole family together for a professional photo.

But I want to share the result of working with one delightful couple, who came prepared to play and have a good time. They brought props and fun clothes, and really turned their sitting into a great experience for me and my assistant.

We had so much fun, that, although I uploaded the basic files to Shutterfly, I couldn’t help doing a little more work on one of my favorites, and making a a good sized print to send to them.

Here it is…..


Although we photographed 29 different families on that Saturday, this was hands down the most rewarding, as they had really put some thought into what they wanted to do, and their planning gave us multiple setups to work with in the time we had with them.

Most photographers I know give back to the community in any number of projects like this one. “Flashes of Hope” is another worthy cause that I will highlight in another post soon.

Meanwhile, all of us involved that weekend in December are planning our return next year.