A composite corporate portrait

February 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Monticello composite 4Monticello composite 4 The above photo is one of the more interesting corporate assignments JFP has taken on in a while. And, ironically, when our client proposed the job (a black and white group portrait with spot coloring, and a composite photo at that), we weren't super enthusiastic.

You see, there can be bit of a negative attitude in the professional photography community regarding black and white photos with just a splash of color. They are sometimes frowned upon by other professional photographers. They can be considered outdated or amateurish, and photographers will occasionally say things like, "You need to educate your clients better so that they won't want images like that."

Fortunately, we are not driven by what other photographers think. We are driven by our clients' needs.

At the end of the day, a large part of our job is to execute our clients' visions to the best of our ability. Sure, we are often considered the creative experts and -- in that scenario -- we get paid to come up with and deliver on what we think looks best. But we also need to be respectful of others' creative ideas.

So, when our client told us he wanted a group photo in this style with himself and seven of his employees, we listened to his why (he wanted us to make a photo that -- when used in print, social media and on billboards -- would stand out in the competitive real estate market). We then put aside our initial lukewarm reaction and began working on how to make a picture that would meet our clients' needs.

Our studio space is not large enough to photograph eight adults at once, and we wanted to photograph each real estate agent individually anyhow, to focus on making each person look their best. We set aside an hour on a Saturday morning to photograph the eight subjects on a white background. We set up our four studio lights to achieve consistent, even lighting, and we put our camera on a tripod. We then placed pieces of tape on the floor to mark where the lightstands and the tripod were placed. If anything got bumped into, we needed to be able to put it back in the same exact spot. Everything needed to be consistent.

Here's what one of the original portraits looked like out of the camera (we used the same focal length for each image, so that all eight subjects would fit together cohesively in the final composite):

Monticello composite-174Monticello composite-174 We sent the client a link to an online proofing gallery, so they could choose the best image for each of the eight subjects for us to work on. Once those images were selected, we sent them to our retoucher, whose primary role was to extract the subject from the white background and place them on a transparent background. (We try not to spend time doing tasks that we don't love and/or that we are not talented at.) We asked for a total of 16 images back -- a color version to provide to the client as a bonus from the shoot, and a black and white version with a splash of color (the colors each person wore as a tie or jewlery were coordinated in advance).

Monticello composite-174Monticello composite-174 Monticello composite-174_copyMonticello composite-174_copy Once we had the black and white photos in hand, the task of building the final image in Photoshop began. We started with a transparent background and placed the portraits one at a time, moving them to fit the space and image the client had in mind.

It's kind of funny that, when we started this project, we were simply aiming to make our client happy. We ended up being fired up about the job. From the planning to the shooting to the production work, it was fun to take on something a little different. And we can't wait to see the images being used!

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