Last year, I had the pleasure of photographing Caroline, a children's author. Before we met, she explained that the local landscape was a strong influence for her writing. It seemed obvious that her photographs should be outdoors to reflect both Caroline and the environment that she draws upon.
Most of my headshots are taken indoors. It's easier to use studio equipment to control lighting and there's no worry about the weather! But working with Caroline helped me to think about the particular advantages of taking a 'shoot outdoors. So here are my top seven reasons:
1. I'm no Desk Jockey!
We don't all work at a desk and maybe the space outdoors is your day-to-day workplace. Garden designers and landscapers are obvious examples. If you are in this industry then a portrait within a beautiful garden will provide visual clues to your areas of expertise. Or perhaps you work in sports or fitness? Posing with a running track receding into the background will reinforce your brand whilst providing a strong image.
2. Lifestyle matters
A studio setting is great for capturing the classic head-and-shoulders business portrait. But what if you don't want to be seen as overly traditional? You prefer casual clothing, your business promotes messages about working differently from the 9-to-5, you're often emphasising the importance of a work/life balance? Your ideal client aspires to blending productivity with quality of life and has an image of themselves working effectively from a laptop whilst enjoying the outdoor sunshine, and a great cup of coffee. So maybe your website should include some pictures of you in exactly this situation?
3. Wellbeing is Green
There has been a lot of research into the benefits of being outdoors for our health and wellbeing. Natural green spaces lift our mood and help us to feel more at ease with ourselves. This makes them a good choice of background for those in a health or wellness profession. And the great outdoors offers lots of choice. To suggest tranquillity and calm look for placid lakes and wildflower meadows. Or if activity and excitement is more relevant for you, how about mountain peaks or cliffs and crashing waterfalls?
4. Urban & Cosmopolitan
It doesn't have to be about the natural environment. Even if you spend most of your time indoors and work in a resolutely urban environment, outdoor shots can still say something about you. Choose a location that reflects the sort of business you are (or aspire to be). You're not obliged to go to London or New York – a carefully chosen angle outside your own local offices can work just as well. As long as the focus remains on you, even a busy street is worth considering as it can suggest energy and activity.
5. Locally distinctive
It's not just greengrocers that have got local roots (oh, I do like a pun)! Even if you don't sell goods that are associated with the local area, you are probably part of the local business network. Your company may sponsor local charities, your employees' families will be part of the local community. Even if you sell internationally, the local connections are part of your business DNA, so why not draw on it? Including images that show you in your local area help to show that you are proud of where you're at.
6. A more relaxing shoot
Remember those wellbeing benefits of being outdoors? If you're one of those people who takes a deep breath of relaxation as soon as you step outside, then an outdoor shoot may be an easier experience for you. No need to stand in a studio setting hemmed in by lots of unfamiliar lighting. Let your photographer do the work – you can enjoy the fresh air and listen to the birdsong!
7. It's all about the Light
As I mentioned earlier, working outdoors gives the photographer less control over lighting. So you may need to be prepared to move around to find the best spot, which varies according to the time of day and the amount of cloud in the sky. But once you're in the right place, natural outdoor illumination can provide fabulous soft lighting, which will make you look great!
8. The Elephant in the Room
Ok, so writing this in June 2020, there is perhaps an eighth reason to add to my list of seven. As we are currently adapting to the impact of coronavirus, working outdoors makes it easier to ensure social distancing.
Whatever your reasons for considering an outdoor headshot or portrait, get in touch to have a chat about how I can help you.
All photos: Caroline England, photographed near Glossop. Caroline will soon be launching Featherbed Tales - a new series of digital picture book stories for those who love sharing stories but can't be there to read them.