Are corporate headshots art?


Capturing a corporate headshot

I´m hanging over the armrest of a massive dental chair, squashed in under the heavy steel beam that carries that bright light they use for interrogating our teeth. I´m trying to expose. My camera accessories are easy to reach on the little handy swing tray where you usually get served a turquoise mouthwash after drilling (must get one of these for my next studio). There´s always a new situation to adapt to when doing corporate portraits on location and you have to use your creativity and imagination to make it look like art!

I smack off a shot to test my lights. I´m not even holding my camera in position. I´m not looking at the object, Endodontics Specialist Sameena. But something happens in that shot and I don´t want to erase it. And after the shoot, everybody who sees it loves it. It´s shot in a small dental examination room, a dentist tucking in her collar under the tunic, it´s the moment just before the real photo is supposed to happen. But this becomes so much more real.

Studio headshots with a white backdrop are perhaps not the most creative assignments a photographer can get, the ones we see on LinkedIn etc, but for me, this too can be art. I want to be able to look at every photo I take – and feel some sort of joy. Joy for the person I´ve depicted, pride for my skills to capture them. And looking at something you´ve created and feeling joy, that for me should be the definition of art.

If we look at the black and white world-renown portraits we admire, they are stunning shots; the tone, the way they´re lit, the composition. The whole feel in the photo is magical and you know there´s someone behind the camera who´s got an open channel to the photo gods. We´ve lost a little bit of that through the explosion of digital photography. We now call it headshots, not portraits. It carries a sign of swiftness, a bit of rush. I´m sure the same amount of great portraits still are produced by talented photographers, there´s just an abundance of mediocre smartphone selfies going out online every day, where art isn´t the first thing that springs to mind.

I´m sure Dr Sameena looks at a repaired tooth and feels joy too. Her skills have created a beautiful result for a person who will carry her filling with pride – a piece of art in their mouth!

See my portraits here:

The photos were taken at the beautiful Covent Garden Dental Spa in London.

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