Business Portrait Theory

Throughout our site you’ll find a number of classes covering how to photograph business portraits. These cover techniques such as lighting setups, camera settings and equipment choice, but what about how to organise a business shoot, how to put a nervous person at ease or how to choose which images to present to the client?

In this class, Karl provides a wealth of information about the more ‘theoretical’ elements relating to business portraiture. Starting with pre-shoot considerations such as call sheets, Karl also explores important considerations such as how to put your subjects at ease, how to pose your subject, what to look out for when working on location, what level of post-production is needed and how to select which images to present to the client.

In this class:

  • What are call sheets and how to use them
  • How to pose subjects for business portraits
  • How to put clients at ease before a shoot
  • Selecting which images to present to the client
  • What to look out for when shooting on location
  • What backgrounds to use for business portraits
  • Recommended focal lengths for business portraiture
  • How much post-production is required for business portraits

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

Tips for photographing business portraits

1. Use a call sheet

A call sheet can be a useful tool for communicating important details about the shoot.

Login or sign up to download the “Business Portrait Call Sheet”

2. Make your subject feel comfortable

There are many reasons people may feel uncomfortable having their photos taken. Take the time to talk this through with your subject and help put them at ease.

3. Idle hands make for awkward photos

If your subject doesn’t know what to do with their hands, give them something to do. This could be simply holding a pen or putting putting them in their pockets.

4. Don’t get caught out on location

Shooting in location comes with far more challenges than working in the studio. Take the time to look around the location, understand the light and find where the shot works best.

5. Don’t neglect the post-production stage

Business portraits don’t require heavy retouching, but taking the time to fix stray hairs or remove pimples will always be appreciated.

To learn more about business portrait lighting setups, visit our Portrait section. Or, alternatively, watch our ‘Business Portraiture and Headshots‘ live show replay.


  1. Your best lecture so far, the technical details can be master with study and repetition, but the ability to resolve the multiple issues in dealing with human sensitivities can not be taught. I have been practice a highly surgical specialty, and still find your essay enlightening . Thank you.

  2. Excellent work and tips in the background as usaul! I missed you the classes because I was busy with issue that need my immediate attenched.
    Thank you,

  3. Hi Karl,
    As usual this was a very helpful session, especially these more in depth explanations. It’s all good and well seeing you do things, sometimes these more theoretical explanations can be very beneficial.
    I do have one specific question regarding lenses and focal lengths for portrait in general, not just business portraits. I’m using a Sony A7III full frame camera and own a 85mm F1.8 lens. This is not one of their top of the line GM lens, but still quite good. I’m still uncertain whether I should exchange that lens with their GM 85mm F1.4 lens, or add the GM 135mm F1.8, which so far every review has been absolutely glaring, but sometimes one has to be careful with these reviews anyway. Even if you probably don’t know these particular lenses, what would be your recommendation, change the 85mm to their top lens or add the 135mm?
    Cheers, Ralf

  4. Is the call sheet a give and take iterative process? It sounds like, for instance, you should scout the place if you are going to do location work and then make recommendations. Or, if the company gives you specifics on the style, where you are making recommendations of coordinating colour suggestion and avoidances.

    Much of what you are saying seems so logical. It is great to hear it articulated. Excellent Video.

Leave a Comment