Many of my clients ask for unique backgrounds for their headshots or group portraits that feature beautiful office spaces, venues, or homes. These backgrounds are popular because they draw attention and interest, but capturing business portraits in these spaces isn’t always possible for a variety of reasons (e.g. access, logistics, weather/lighting limitations, etc.). So another option is to produce green screen headshots (also known as Chroma key) in the studio and replace the backgrounds in post production.
After this was photographed, we chose a background of a beautiful residential space and placed his business headshot into the background with some Photoshop magic. The background was “blurred” to draw attention to my client. It also allows his graphic designer to drop in a logo and a title in the space on the right of the image. Alternatively, the photo can be cropped closer if just the head and shoulders headshot is needed for web advertising or business cards.
Another background was selected as well, and it was easy to place the headshot into a new space with little additional Photoshop editing required.
Some of the keys to making this all work are: the studio lighting placement, background selection, and colour grading. Knowing what the background will be in advance is important to making the final composite image look as realistic as possible.
Most of the backgrounds I prefer selecting have a brighter and/or generally muted colour palette, which helps to minimize the contrast between the headshot and the background. Knowing that the background is going to be generally brighter means adding some back lighting or rim lighting to the subject’s photo.
Colour grading or matching tones is another important ingredient. Compare the top image with the bottom one. Notice that the warmer skin tone of the top image fits better with the residential background due to the similar warmish tone.
Headshots from the green screen process rarely look as good as shooting in the actual space, but it’s an acceptable compromise when certain access or seasonal limitations keep us from shooting on location. One way to add fidelity to the image is to apply a tighter crop. This can usually help because it removes much of the background distraction, but includes just enough of the background to maintain context.
If you would like more information about producing headshots, group photos, or commercial images using this green screen technique, feel free to drop me a line!
This is a photo I produced for Dominion Lending Centre’s recruitment advertising campaign last winter for Metro Vancouver. This photo was produced on a frozen Como Lake in Coquitlam featuring one of their top mortgage brokers.
This photo was taken on a cold afternoon on one of the coldest and snowiest winters we’ve seen on the West Coast in decades. It may be one the last times we see a local lake safe enough to skate on while frozen.
If you would like help producing photos for your next promotional campaign, please get in touch!
Here are some sample images of Corporate Lawyer Headshots photographed on-site in downtown Vancouver. These headshots were photographed at my client’s office. We used the lawyer’s lounge for our lighting setup and used part of the window as the backdrop for these corporate portraits.
What makes these headshots stand out is the out of focus background, which puts the headshots in context, while placing my clients in sharp focus. The combination of soft lighting with a subtle rim light gives these headshots a clean and bright feel with minimal shadows and soft tones. All my headshots are edited in Photoshop, where a light skin retouch is applied, but the images are not overprocessed. If you are a business in Metro Vancouver and need corporate headshots for your website, social media, or for print marketing, contact us for more a custom quote and availability for on-site or in-studio sessions. Please ask about our group rates if you are inquiring for your company staff.
With the recent early winter snowfall in Metro Vancouver, there was an increase in the number of headshot portrait inquiries for on-site at my client’s offices. Mobile headshots services are a common service I provide to my corporate clients who need profile photos for their staff, but need the work to be done in a time effective way that won’t add any unnecessary work disruptions.
My mobile headshot studio normally consists of professional studio lighting gear that can fit into almost any space to produce professional looking headshots that appear like they were shot in a commercial studio. I often use boardrooms, lunch rooms, or even office lobbies – so long as there is space to set up my equipment, I can produce modern-looking headshots at reasonable rates.
These are the web profile headshots produces for a recent mobile headshots shoot for a healthcare software company in Vancouver’s Gastown district. The light gradient grey background was chosen in advance to compliment their branding and website colours.
These were shot in the company’s staff/meeting room, which was a medium sized room that accommodated the setup of a large seamless backdrop, and professional lighting gear for the main light and background light, along with the grip equipment.
Following the session, an online photo proofing gallery was set up to allow my clients to select their best photos. Their selected headshots were then prepared and delivered within a couple of days. So if you need a fast turn-around time, I’m more than happy to accommodate!
I offer excellent group rates for departments or businesses that need new photos for web profiles, LinkedIn, editorial stories, or for print marketing purposes. So if you are interested in producing custom headshots for your business at your office location, please contact us today for rate info and availability!
Adrian Verdejo had his musician headshot taken at my studio in East Vancouver this month. Portraits for musicians are a key part of promoting an artist in Vancouver and abroad. These musician headshot will be used for publicity on his website and other marketing materials related to his music and teaching.
We did a headshot session with a couple of different looks. For the casual look, a simple black turtleneck was the perfect clothing choice to focus the viewer on the artist himself, and his guitar. We did both a darker scene as well as a high-key look with plenty of negative space to the left of the frame so that text can be at a later time. A slightly more formal attire choice below presented a professional look. We chose to feature both the front and back of his classical guitar in this shot. The lighting perfectly highlighted the wood grain and its specific characteristics.
For more information about headshots to help promote your music or art, please contact us for get information on portrait rates for Vancouver sessions in studio as well as custom sessions on location.
These two studio headshots were photographed at the same session with two lighting setups for two distinct looks. The Studio Dark look on the left conveys a more dramatic look, while the look on the right is brighter with softer lighting.
Notice the difference in shadows around the face. The headshot on the left has darker shadows around the jawline, which helps to shape my client’s face. The headshot on the right has more even lighting across the face, and appears softer and brighter overall.
Although both these headshots were photographed at the same time of day, the configuration of studio lights, type of modifiers and reflectors has a big impact on the overall look and feel of the headshots.
If you are looking to produce two different looks during your photo session, get in touch with us for details on what type of headshot session would work best to meet your goals.
Here are some headshots for Vancouver business coaches I photographed at the studio against a seamless white backdrop. The headshots were produced for use on their Vancouver-based leadership coaching website and other marketing materials.
The clean white “high key” background was a good choice for versatility. The white backdrop produces headshots are simple, yet fresh and modern.
If you are interested in producing similar headshots for your coaching business, please get in touch with us for rate information and availability. Headshot sessions can be done at the studio or on site at your office.
A studio headshot mini session is the perfect way to produce a professional-looking portraits for Canadian medical residency applications (CaRMS). These session take 20 – 30 minutes in-studio and are photographed with professional lighting against a plain backdrop. The photographer will help you with posing in a relaxed environment that will help you look your best. All you need to do is come prepared with business casual attire, and hair and makeup done (optional, but recommended).
You’ll get to select the top two headshots for use in your application and we also provide custom cropping and file sizes for CaRMS applications at no additional charge. Turn-around time is usually 2 days, and rush priority service is also available. Special group discounts are available starting from groups of two or more. For current information about accepted photos for the residency matching service, visit the CaRMS website.
This year was my first trip to WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International). It is an annual conference and tradeshow that takes place at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada that brings many of the top wedding and portrait photographers and photography vendors from around the world all under one roof.
On this trip to Las Vegas, I brought along my wife and kids and we stayed at the Flamingo Hotel, which is a 15-20 minute walk from the WPPI conference. I only attended the tradeshow thanks to a pair of free tickets I received for being a Westcott email newsletter subscriber. I didn’t sign up for any of the WPPI workshops, but wish I had. Nonetheless, the tradeshow experience was edifying, which gave me an opportunity to see, touch, and try many of the photographic products and services on my wish-list.
Here’s a list of Las Vegas travel tips for anyone who has not attended WPPI before. I hope these Las Vegas travel tips will make your trip to Las Vegas enjoyable and budget-friendly. I compiled these tips upon reflection of my own experience attending WPPI, as well as learnings from past trips to Las Vegas.
1. Where to Stay in Vegas for WPPI?
If you want to stay close to the action, use the WPPI special rate discount to book your hotel close to the conference and expo. If being close to the conference isn’t a priority, there are a large number of other options.
Where you decide to stay depends on personal preferences and your budget. If you want to be near the central area of the Vegas Strip, consider hotels such as the Flamingo, Caesar’s Palace, Bellagio, Harrah’s, Paris, The Mandarin, etc.
However, if you’ve been to Vegas before, or you simply don’t care about the Vegas strip, I highly recommend looking at hotels that are off the Strip. Nightly rates can sometimes be better, and these hotel tend to feel a little less crowded.
One good option is the Westin Las Vegas, which is very central and just a block off the Strip. I didn’t stay there on my trip, but I went there to pick up my car rental and found the hotel to be very appealing, especially for families.
You may want to consider staying even further away if you can get a good deal on a hotel room. You can use those savings to rent a car and drive to the conference. With a rental car, you’ll be visit places outside the Vegas Strip as well. Parking is usually free at Hotels, but unless you arrive early in the day, you may be driving around the parking lot a for a while before you’re able to find a spot.
2. Taxi vs. Shuttle from McCarran Airport
This is one of the most common questions, so I’ve turned it into one of my key Las Vegas travel tips. If you don’t have a tour operator who has prearranged your hotel transfer, it can be a bit of a mystery what is the better and/or cheaper option to get you from McCarran Airport to your hotel.
The folks at WPPI usually offer prearranged discounts for conference attendees with one or more shuttle companies in Las Vegas (e.g. Showtime Tours). Although the rates may change from year to year, the cost is usually much less than a taxi if you are travelling individually.
So if you are travelling individually, your hotel is on or near the Strip, and you don’t mind waiting while the shuttle drops of other riders before arriving at your hotel, the shuttle will likely be the cheaper option for you.
When pre-purchasing your shuttle ticket online (which is how you get the WPPI discount), you may only see a limited number of hotels on the drop-off list. However, a quick email to Showtime Tours (or whomever WPPI is providing discounts with) will allow you to add your hotel to the list of drop off locations.
If you are travelling with more than two people (or even children over 3 years old), the cost of a shuttle will often be more than the cost of a taxi. You can get a taxi fare estimate for your transfer from McCarran airport to your hotel by visit the Taxi Fare Finder website. Note that by Nevada law, taxi drivers must always take the most direct route to your destination, so if you feel that your driver isn’t following the rules or your fare is looking way above this online fare finder, don’t be afraid to speak up. If your hotel is on the Strip, one way to avoid a bloated fare is to tell your driver “don’t take the tunnel” before you jump into the cab. That will give him or her the hint that you’ve done your homework, and you’ll be less likely to be overcharged.
One more note about taking a taxi from the airport. During busy periods, it is highly likely that there will be a long queue. When we arrived in Vegas, we were one of the last people to go through US customs (we flew in from Vancouver, BC), so by the time we exited the terminal, most of the crowd in front of us had already left. For us, that meant there wasn’t much of a taxi queue to deal with, which was such a relief.
3. Get a Monorail Pass
If you are not renting a car and want to travel around the Vegas Strip, get a discounted multi-day Las Vegas Monorail pass. As an attendee, you can save a few dollars off the pass, but it’s well worth it even at full price.
Be aware that there are a limited number of monorail stations. It doesn’t go to every hotel along the Strip, so if you’re not staying near one of the stations, you may be in for a long walk.
4. Save Money, Eat off the Strip or use a Food Court, Fast Food, or a Drugstore.
Let’s be real. Food in Las Vegas is expensive. Unless you’re getting Casino comps on a regular basis, the cost of restaurants and buffets can blow your budget in a hurry.
We rented a car on this trip, so we were able to have many of our meals off the Strip, where the prices seem a little more budget friendly. For breakfast, the Flamingo Hotel provided meal vouchers of up to $18 per day (or $9 per adult), which saved us a little (well, not really since we were also paying around $32 per night for their resort fee when we didn’t even use their resort facilities while we were there, but that’s a topic for another day). However, let me warn you that $9 per person for breakfast is not much – you’ll only be able to get a muffin and a large coffee for that amount.
For lunch, consider using the food courts, or find a Chipotle down the strip near Harrah’s. One evening, we dinner at the Fashion Show Mall food court, which offered good prices and was not as busy as some other locations on the Strip.
There are also numerous other restaurants far off the Strip, but you’ll need a car or taxi to access them. One evening, we drove to Chinatown and had a complete dinner for four for about same the price of one buffet pass at a Hotel on the Strip.
We saved a ton by not purchasing food items from our hotel. For water and snacks, we visited a local CVS (across from the Fashion Mall). There are many Walgreen locations along the strip as well, but CVS had slightly better prices on the things we needed during this trip.
This is one thing I wish I had been able to do on my first visit to WPPI. There are a long list of excellent classes and photo walks. Some of them are offered at a discount if you book them online before the start of the conference.
6. Plan to attend all 3 days of the Expo
There are over 250 exhibitors at WPPI, and several of them offer daily presentations and demonstrations, so plan to spend a lot of time visiting them all.
Some of the most popular exhibits in 2016 were the Canon Profoto, Nikon, and Sony. Some of the talks they scheduled were standing room only, so arrive early if you want to get a seat.
Some exhibitors gave away chachkas as well as useful items like Lowepro CF card wallets (thanks to Sandisk!), so be prepared to walk out with a lot of little goodies as well as reading materials.
7. Bring Your Camera or Lenses for Cleaning or Repairs!
Canon and Nikon had cleaning and repair technicians at the tradeshow, so if you need work done on your camera gear, you may want to bring it along. You also be able to talk to their technicians about your equipment, so bring your questions as well.
8. Wear Comfortable Clothes and Walking Shoes
The Conference and Expo take up a large area, and convention venues are often larger than they seem on maps or photos. You’ll be doing a lot of walking during the tradeshow, not to mention any Photo Walks you may want to sign up for, so bring comfortable shoes for lots of walking and standing around.
WPPI is usually held in the winter, so Vegas temperatures are mild compared to the boiling summer season. You won’t need to or want to wear sandals, and you may even want to bring a jacket along. Whatever you choose, dress comfortably, but also dress well. Remember that you represent your business, and you may even be rubbing shoulders with your favourite photographers and other businesses, so also keep that in mind as you pick your conference wardrobe.