Executive and team portraits for companies can to be a bit of a drag. From the boring “Hey! It’s me in front of a wall!” shots to the corny “Look at us! We’re so fun!” kind. Often constrained by what has come before, they tend to be unimaginative and lack in personality. But there is good news. They don’t have to be!
An increasing amount of companies realize that it’s wise to insert personality into staff and executive portraits. Depending on your industry, there are various approaches to avoid creating a boring or ineffective team page. The smartest companies dedicate true focus to this process and ensure that the team page is one of their main recruiting and culture tools.
Below I’ve shared a set of portraits shot for various clients with varying degrees of editorial aesthetics based on a conversation we had about their goals and company culture.
For my full portfolio visit wesley.co including portraits shot for Wired, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, and other publications.
There are situations in which simple and straight forward is the most appropriate aesthetic. When founders and executives are asked to speak at conferences and need to submit a photo, when operating in a more buttoned up industry, or when a publication asks for a picture to accompany their news story are good examples. A conference booklet is often not the right venue to show off your more artistic flair, so for these shots we went for clean and straight forward, while still maintaining a quality level far above the basic boring head shot in front of an office wall.
In order of appearance: Benjamin Habbel (CEO of Voyat), Jesse Hertzberg (CEO of Livestream), Alex Poon (Founder of X.ai), and the Berger-Forh team.
A uniform and clean background works especially well for larger team pages. Traditionally companies will choose for a white background and a standard smiling portrait, but I generally recommend considering switching it up. One example could be using a black background and adding a bit more individual personality by letting me as the photographer bring out something a little different for each person. The strongest teams are those rich in diversity and this can be reflected in the style of the team portraits as well. Below are a few examples from a 50-person staff portrait shoot for the wonderful creative agency ustwo.
Raj Kapoor (Chief Strategy Officer, Lyft), Howard Roffman (General Counsel, Lucasfilm), Joshua McKenty (VP, Pivotal), Michael Dell (Founder, Dell) with Rob Mee (CEO, Pivotal).
Some businesses lend themselves for a more editorial, magazine like approach and look. In those cases we get to have some extra fun and insert even more personality into each photo. These shoots are tons of fun and we get to play around with the company culture and the image the subject wants to broadcast internally and externally. Even when our main goal is a simpler shot, I will often make sure to get at least one of these editorial shots in the set. Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you actually get to see it.
Benjamin Habbel (CEO, Voyat), Cheryl Day (baker and cook book author), Fola (creative), Courtney Webb (owner, Hey Rooster), Brad Lande (CEO, Live In The Grey), Jack Cheng (author), Mackenzie Kruvant (sr. editor, Buzzfeed).
When pure love and compassion is at the core of your organization, as it is with many non-profits and companies with a social mission, we choose to really bring that out in the portraits. Below are some examples from a staff and students shoot for the Chefs Culinary Training program for homeless people in San Francisco.
Get in touch and let’s chat! I’d love to work together to translate your company culture into the best possible set of portraits for your team. View more portraits here and find my work in Wired, Saveur, Fast Company, Travel + Leisure and more.
I’m currently shooting in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York from August through September, and am always ready to travel to where you are. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org