Ever since I began doing corporate photography several years ago, I get calls all the time from busy human resource managers and executive assistants to set up photo shoots for their company. If you’re faced with the job of organizing an executive photoshoot it can be no small task. Just finding a day when all these busy, important people are in the office is hard enough, let alone pulling them out of their day for 20-30 minutes each to get their photo taken. And since this scheduling conundrum is the main thing that most people focus on, many forget a vital component of coordinating a shoot. Beyond choosing the right business portrait photographer, there is another key component that I believe is ultimately the most important part of the process. And what is this mistake that so many highly functional organizers make? Coordinating wardrobe.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “I am an administrative assistant, not a stylist!” I am not asking anyone to work outside of their gifting or even their job description. But many people completely underestimate the power of visual identity in photos, especially with regard to corporate portraits. If you are able to coordinate wardrobe you are much more likely to ensure that the overall style of the shoot ends up producing the desired results of the organization. Making sure that everyone is wearing the ‘right’ thing might feel nearly impossible. But consistent and cohesive clothing usually leads to a polished look on the company website and in client proposals.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that everyone should wear exactly the same thing. Instead I am proposing a somewhat consistent style across the executives. This allows any company to indicate to its current and potential clients that while they are all specialized in a particular area, they are all clearly on the same team. I also don’t think that your “team” should wear a uniform, matching ties or suits. For a young tech company your solution might simply be that everyone is wearing something totally unique to their personal style or perhaps t-shirts with slogans- the wilder the better! But for a consulting or law firm a more polished line of clothing choices might be in order.
Although this discovery process is going to be different for every company, there are a few questions to ask yourself and your marketing team when informing employees about what to wear for their photoshoot. These 5 questions can take your company’s next photoshoot (and subsequent promotional materials) to a higher level.
1. What is the purpose of these photos?
You might make different decisions if the photos will be used for the company website, attached to proposals, for key note speaking engagements, or the company intranet. Perhaps you will want two different looks from each person: a formal and a more casual look depending on the purpose of the photo.
2. How formal should they be?
Does it fit for to have a suit and tie for men and blazers for women? Or button down shirts for men and blouses for women? Be sure to give very specific guidelines for both men and women. Just saying ‘wear something professional’ leaves too much room for interpretation.
3. Who will be seeing these photos?
It is important to think about the end user of these photos- your audience. If your clients are all based in the more casual SF Bay Area as opposed to being primarily international, this could help to determine how formal your executives should dress. The West Coast of California is one of the more casual places to do business in the world. However if the majority of your client base and outreach is in Europe, you may want to bump up the formality a little.
4. How important is consistency amongst the photos?
Will they be used side-by-side in print or on the web? If so, then you definitely need to give clear and specific instructions. If not, you most likely won’t have any problems with people choosing clothing that they feel most comfortable in.
5. Are there any colors that we want to focus on or avoid?
A pop of color can look great in an executive headshot, but if everyone has a different pop of color and all their photos are right next to each other it can be distracting. It’s not that everyone has to wear exactly the same color, but perhaps sticking with ‘blues and purples’ or ‘warm tones’ can be enough to tie the photos together.
And remember, you need to be as specific as possible when telling your executives what to wear. They are busy and have many other things occupying their minds. I highly recommend sending a reminder a few weeks out and then again a day before the photo session outlining for them exactly what the clothing guidelines are. If you do this I’m quite certain your group photoshoot will go exactly as planned.