Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.
Architecture and Design | head shots and portraits

Environmental Portraits for Creative Professionals

August 7, 2012
Tina - K. Marie Design - environmental portrait
Tina – K. Marie Design – environmental portrait

I am a firm believer that professionals should have a good head shot. For executive professionals the image is usually used for speaking engagements, annual reports, websites and newsletters. Most executives come to me because they need  a head shot. I think it is even more important for service-oriented professionals to have a great head shot.  Creative professionals tend to come to me because they want  a head shot. That was the case with Tina. She wanted a head shot for her new website and marketing materials.

Tina came across my work in an ad I ran in a local theater production. As opposed to using safe and family oriented photos, I used images that were unique, interesting and fun. Those photos got me noticed. Tina is an interior designer and professional organizer. She also grew up in a family of photographers and knew what type of head shot she didn’t want; she didn’t want a typically business head shot.  Business head shots are usually warm and presentable but very static. There isn’t a lot of room to introduce personality in that type of photo.  Tina wanted a head shot that showed her personality in addition to being warm and personable.

When we talked about the shoot we narrowed down what she didn’t want. That was easy. The challenge was finding the right balance of creative + professional + personality. In order to make sure we were both on the same page in regards to the final look, I pulled some images I had shot for previous clients as well as examples from magazines to use as a point of reference for what I felt she was asking for. Once I knew we were on the same page the next step was to scout the location. Tina works out of her home and has a studio space that she wanted to be photographed in. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts shooting in homes always has it’s challenges. The location scout was to make sure I was prepared for and could overcome those challenges.  In addition to seeing the space and the light I was able to shoot some test shots. The test shots allowed us to look at the photos and decide where to focus our efforts on the day of the real shoot.  Going through this process before the actual shoot saves time and also prepares the client for the real deal. They get a chance to see what they will look like on camera. It also gets them thinking about wardrobe, styling and about prepping the space for the real shoot. Trying to shoot tests in addition to preparing the space for a photo shoot on the day-of is a stressful situation for both me and the client. Not only do they need to worry about their appearance, but now they have to worry about cleaning, de-cluttering AND making decisions about which photo will suit their marketing needs.  By scouting the location and shooting some quick tests shots we have saved time and reduced stress.


Location Scout - test shoot
Location scout – test shoot – environmental portrait of Tina Studier. K. Marie Design


The location scout was early afternoon and she warned me that later in the afternoon the sun blasted through the west facing windows in the background of the frame.  As far as spaces go, the studio was perfect for the shoot; it showed clients her work-space and her personality. Her unique wallpaper is such a creative and fun detail in the room. You can paste pictures and inspirations to your heart’s content and have it look interesting and planned out. Since the wallpaper was new we both realized it would need to be filled-in more for the shoot.  We also decided that a landscape photo would show too much of the space and not feature Tina enough. The final shoot was a couple weeks later and we ended up with these two final images.


Tina had prepped the space using the notes we had made with the tests. She filled in part of wallpaper that would be in our frame and she switched out the lamp in the corner.  The coffee table was removed and we paired down the objects on the cabinet camera left.  We shot a couple different outfits but kept coming back to this jacket. In order to give my clients variety and images that will be useful across all of their marketing platforms I knew we also needed to shoot a traditional head and shoulders portrait. The environmental portrait would not translate well on websites where  the size of the image was limited.  A head shot will scale down and look great on sites like LinkedIn where you are limited to a one inch photo. We both were happy with the results.


Tina - K. Marie Design - head shot/ portrait
Tina – K. Marie Design – head shot/ portrait

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