Creating the Best CEO Portraits in NYC

Handling all sort of corporate photography – headshots, portraits of corporate executives, corporate events is what our photo studio in New York City does best.  Working with some of the largest law firms and banks in the country we deal with every level within the organization.  Each year we photograph hundreds of bankers and new associates entering their first jobs out of school, mid level executives who are getting a promotion, people celebrating at various events and people transferring laterally between firms.  The name of the game here is a high level of consistency, as a rebrand is rare and costly our clients trust that the person they send in for a portrait this week will look consistent with someone who was photographed 5 years ago.

The next level of all of this is when these companies need great photos of their C-Suite executives or managing partners, these are the people who run the ship, their time is valuable and they never have enough of it.  This is when our expertise and experience really comes in to play.  A handful of times each year we are called in with the request of creating a portfolio of portraits for a CEO or other corporate executive for them to use over the course of a few years. Below is some insight into what goes into a shoot like that and how we maximize our time while minimizing the amount of time we need with the executive.

Find out more about our executive portraits.


1.  Take a walk through the space

One of the first things we will do when discussing doing portraits for a CEO is visit with the person who is setting up the shoot and walk through the space and discuss what we should aim for as a final result.  This allows us to start working on a plan for the shoot of how to get the job done both efficiently and effectively.  We try to ask for at least an hour of time for the executive photo session but always strive to finish ahead of schedule so that they can return to their duties.

2. Building a Shot List

Once our walk through is complete and we have an idea of what type of portraits are needed we start building out our shot list and planning how we will execute the photoshoot.  We realize that time is valuable, so we strive to have the CEO portraits done efficiently and build our schedule very tightly while still offering as much of a diversity in images as possible.  This often includes having a variety of ties and jackets on hand to switch things up throughout the shoot, though if they have a ‘uniform’ that is not necessary.  Our goal is to come away from the shoot with at least 4 or 5 unique shots that can be used as needed without much repetition.

This is our starting shot list for a CEO Portrait Session in NYC:

  • Portrait to match the brands internal style(usually on white or grey)
  • Environmental Portrait in Office
  • Casual Portrait
  • Working Shot(in conference room or at desk/table)
  • Additional Environmental Portraits in another nice area

3. Research the subject

This isn’t a deep dive into their life or cyberstalking them, if you are handling CEO portraits for someone who is at a high level they will likely have a interviews or editorials about them, it’s nice to find a hobby of that you might be able to bring up during the shoot to help build a level of comfort.  Talking about work is fine and all, but you are more likely to get genuinely good expressions when talking about their favorite golf courses, islands or resorts.

Have a CEO that is in need of a new portrait? Contact us and let’s make it happen!

Shoot Day

1. Arrive Early and Ready To Work

We like to arrive at least an hour before the first shot is scheduled to go off.  This gives us a chance to get into the building and to the executive floor.  Once there the crew does a quick walkthrough to get the lay of the land and then we begin unpacking and building our sets.  It’s not uncommon for us to have 2-3 different sets ready prepared at once so that we can quickly move between shots as our time progresses.

2. Have a Great Crew

On high value shoots like this we usually have at least 4 people on hand as we are crutching a day full of work into a very shot time period.  Having a crew that works together regularly and knows each others strengths is just one more thing that keeps the ship sailing smoothly.

Our crew consists of:

• Lead Photographer

This will be the person who is directing the shoot and be the person behind the camera.  They will have done the walk through and will see that the plan that is laid out gets followed through.

• Second Photographer

A second trained set of eyes will watching the shoot on a laptop tethered to the camera reviewing images in real time, making recommendations to the lead photographer for additional angles to shoot or adjustments to be made with the lighting and also directing our assistant on what needs to be setup for the next shot.

• Assistants

To keep the flow of the shoot moving we bring along at least one assistant who will usually be working on preparing for the next shot.  Moving equipment and lighting throughout the area where we are working and helping to keep things dialed on on schedule.

• Make Up Artist

Having a MUA on set ensures that everyone looks their best and is another set of critical eyes watching for any out of place hair, wrinkled sleeves or any shine on the face.

3. Bring The Proper Equipment – Lots Of It

There is never a good time for a piece of equipment to fail, there are only bad times and even worse times.  The day of a high level executive photo shoot is probably one of the worst times.  We pack twice as much of everything as we think we will actually need, and our assistant is always prepared to run back the the studio or down to the rental house/store if things do go really sideways.  Fortunately it is rare for things to go wrong as we go through our equipment regularly and have any necessary services taken care of.  We understand that when working with an executive there is no option to reschedule tomorrow because of an issue and if we postpone the shoot by 45 minutes, we are essentially cancelling the shoot.  Things have to get done on schedule, while we know CEO portraits are more important than ever in the digital age, we also recognized how tight schedules can be and that deadlines have to be met.

4. Using experience

Nothing can beat showing up with the knowledge only gained from experience.  We regularly work with executives at all levels and have deal with numerous people in the C-Suite every year.  Each time we walk in, we have our plan of action and how to get things done in an effective manner.  When it comes to time, we realizes that to executives in the C-Suite, time is invaluable so we are sure not to waste any of it.

Post Production

Once the shoot is over, post production begins.  We carefully edit down the amount of shots so that we can deliver a reasonably sized gallery for selections.  We do a basic exposure and color correction then process out the images and upload to a web gallery.  We then will pass along a link to our client for review, once they make their selections we will bring the raw files back into Photoshop for any necessary retouching work and polish them up before delivering the final images that will be used both internally for the firm websites, annual reports,  externally for various publications and even for their Wikipedia profiles.