Being a corporate photographer has brought so much diversity to my life that I can only be thankful. I meet interesting people, discover new ways of thinking and get to shoot all kinds of pictures, sometimes even all across Europe.
It is a bizzare thing, very rewarding in the sense that you are usually challenged by the conditions but then the position you are in is misuntderstood: not fully considered an artist but expected to create the amazing for your client.
I know that my corporate photography will not go down in history as for example the work of HC Bresson or Avedon, but I shoot more then a lot of photographers and have to be very skilled in all kinds of photographic disciplines, probably more than a colleague that is very specialized.
Ususally you have to shoot the location, the conference set-up, the decoration and details, the food, the speakers, the people, group pictures, portraits and also manage to create some kind of generic image bank looking pictures. Images that are generic and branded at the same time :)
Sometimes you can even improvise a little studio set-up to give some extra souvenir to the client and attendees.
On company events you need to give energy and can’t miss shots that the PR-Department will need to communicate on. When you do portraits of an important person in a company and have only 1-2 minutes, preparation, posing, interaction and self-confidence are key.
When your clients trust you and there is some kind of friendly relationship that has come due to working together over the years, it is the best.
In the image above, I was shooting group pictures of the complete management board and had an idea in mind to go outside, but one of the chief officers said he wouldn’t want to do that, so I had to (very) quickly reasses, improvise and show full confidence in what I was doing.
Working with reflections usually works well in this field of photography. Also, as it is usually for publication purposes, you have to get the colors on point when you add additional light.
An aspect that is often underated in this field is appearance, in other words how you look and how you present yourself. Sometimes wearing a clean white shirt and elegant shoes, whith a fresh shave can go a long way to be hired again by the client. There is nothing more frustrating, and I have been there and will be there again, when clients really like your work but think you look too artsy or not clean-cut enough. Same with gear, arrive with two or three arranged bags and you look like a pro, arrive with your tripods in hand, batteries in your pocket and the background half hanging out of your car, you look like a mess. People, as bad as it is, judge you based on how they see you the first times they meet you.
Last but not least, turnover is also key. Delivering a couple of images straight after the event or the same day of the shoot can be seen as the fact that you know how things work in this world. In general I agree with clients that they will receive the complete job within 1-3 working days, which is short when you have shot a conference for 8h and have 6000 images to cull and edit. If this is not possible, I communicate with my clients, I tell them how things are and they reply with their needs and we find a solution together.
“Underpromise and overdeliver” - F. Swennen aka. Alohafred