Offer More: How to Become a Corporate Photographer
Corporate photography is the unsung hero of the multimedia world. Wedding photography gets splashed across glossy magazines; newborn photography gets hundreds of likes on Facebook and food photography shines on Instagram with its perfectly placed food crumbs and shot-from-above displays of deliciousness.
Sterile office spaces lit with fluorescent lights and projector screens? Not so much. Corporate photography, while clearly less glamorous and exciting than other fields, is arguably the most flush with untapped work opportunities for photographers.
It’s easy to write off corporate photography as the stock photos that memes are made of. But with an endless number of work opportunities, it can actually become a nice addition to your income. On top of paying your bills, taking corporate pictures, which some would claim are limiting and uninspiring, can actually challenge you and make you become more creative and versatile as a photographer. When you are forced to take beautiful pictures in less than ideal lighting situations and in bland settings, you will also be contrived to think out of the box and learn to utilize your equipment to the maximum of its potential.
Feeling inspired? Read on for tips on how to tap into the corporate world and come away a winner.
What do corporations use photography for?
Corporate Photography is a broad term that can encompass any photography done for the purpose of use by a company. Here is a list of some things that corporations use photography for:
Conferences and events Big companies are always having meetings and conferences. For the bigger, more important ones, they will often document the process and use the images in newsletters, on their website, or in follow ups to attendees.
Conventions and trade shows These are where a group of companies in the same field or industry come together to share information, knowledge, or products. Just like conferences and meetings, they provide another great opportunity for photographers. There is usually at least one photographer on hand to document convention happenings and share the images among participants.
E-learning and training Many companies have some type of e-learning system for employee training. They often want to make that training personalized and visually appealing through the use of company-branded photos and videos.
Marketing and branding material This can be everything from images that highlight the consumer experience of using a company to images that capture the company’s office culture – both to be used in a multitude of ways.
Corporate headshots Many companies want images of their employees all photographed in the same style for use on their website.
What do corporations look for in a photographer?
Companies, broadly speaking, are risk-averse, looking for a safe investment and hoping to maximize the output of the money they do spend. Whereas with other fields of photography you may want to emphasize your creativity and uniqueness, when working with companies, it’s more important to emphasize dependability, experience, and professionalism.
One way to show that is with a sharp photography website that showcases corporate-inspired images of people working, meeting, listening or interacting in a business environment. Make sure the “About me” section of your site emphasizes not only your work history, but what kind of service a client can expect to receive when working with you.
The process of submitting an estimate, budget, or contract is especially important when working with companies. Even if you don’t have an official contract involved when booking the gig, make sure that the terms are very clearly laid out, including the agreed upon budget, date of delivery of images, how images will be delivered, and the number of images included.
Everyone appreciates a fast delivery of their images, especially with social media in mind. Take the extra step of offering a same-day delivery option for some of the images in order to stand out and impress your client from the start.
How to get more corporate gigs?
Start thinking as a professional photographer and treat this like a job search; depending on your location and network of contacts, choose an industry and then network like crazy. Start by creating a photography business plan and don’t wait for companies to find you. Make contacts within a company and send them pitches tailored to their company for services you can provide to them. If you are at the beginning of your career and looking to gain experience or expand your portfolio, offering a barter agreement may be a good option. Find a company with a large following on social media and agree to take pictures for them in exchange for them promoting your work. Need some help? Here's everything you need to know about how to reach out to brands.
Another approach is to build relationships with the people and places that cater to companies such as hotels, conference venues, PR firms, or trade show organizers. Once you become established with them, they can recommend you to companies they work with. Often, venues will even have a set of “vendors” they work with and recommend their clients to use. Establish yourself as one of the main photographers for a big conference venue or vendor and you will have no shortage of opportunities coming your way.
An excellent website that turns up in Google searches will always work to your advantage. Companies from around the world often hold events or meetings in locations outside of their main hub; they will turn to Google to help find a local photographer in the area of their event. Wix has the tools to maximize the SEO potential of your site. Take the time to adjust your site so that you show up at the top of a search for corporate or professional photographers in your area. Our guide for local SEO for photographers has got you covered on that one.
How to prepare for shooting a corporate event?
01. Get ALL the details
Just as you would ensure the terms of your work scope are clear before starting to shoot, make sure you are also clear on what the company wants to use the images for. Do they want posed or more documentary style images? Are they interested in including specific posters, products or other elements in the photos? If your images are going to end up on a website, make sure you know if they prefer horizontal or vertical images, or any specific size dimensions they foresee using the images in. Like in a wedding photoshoot, go over the list of the most important people to capture. Once an event or conference begins, the people that hired you will often be too busy to give you detailed directions on who and what to shoot. Set yourself up for success by getting all of those details beforehand.
02. Be the first to arrive
Prepare to show up early and plan your important shots before the majority of people arrive. The lighting in an office or conference venue is almost always less than flattering. Expect to see a problematic variety of light sources with lots of harsh oranges or blues. Arrive early and figure out your lighting game plan for different areas of the venue. If there will be speeches or presentations as part of the event, scope out the area beforehand and mark a few places where you want to stand to capture that. In most cases you will need at least one off-camera light source so prepare accordingly!
03. Go into invisible mode
Now you’ve booked your corporate gig, done all of the prep work and are ready to get to work. My last piece of advice to impart on you is to fade into the background. Dress conservatively, don’t be loud and don’t draw attention to yourself. Let the focus be on the event and not on you. Banter with people as necessary, but try and limit it to helping you bring people together for a smiling group image. Be fast and efficient and allow your clients to forget you were even there. They will be all the more thankful to remember you when you send you them over a batch of classy, beautifully lit and captured business-appropriate pictures.
By Tracy Levy
Tracy Levy is a professional photographer and videographer. You can see her work at www.TrayLev.com.