Shooting corporate headshots with a medium format camera

I hope you’re all well and surviving this strange purgatory we currently find ourselves in. Since lockdown has relaxed here in the UK I’ve found myself shooting a few corporate headshot gigs, which I always enjoy.

I’m not sure if people are increasing their marketing efforts, or just want a fresh look for their website post-covid, but it’s given me a chance to play around with shooting some medium format portraits of some people other than my family or friends for the first time since I heard the dreaded ‘c-word’.

The shots in this post are all from a shoot I did with Lucy from Method Marketing, and were all shot on Portra 400.

Pros

Shooting medium format film on a corporate shoot has a couple of advantages:

  1. Medium format cameras (at least the Bronica SQ-A) are big and alien-looking. Clients ask what the camera is and then we go through the usual questions about shooting film. This breaks the ice a little, and gives me a chance to talk about why film is still so nice to shoot. It tends to help clients relax a little, as they’re listening and engaging in a subject that isn’t just about what they do, how business is doing etc. I’ve found, at least in my shoots, that questions around these topics tend to put them into ‘business mode’ and can lead to people putting on a more formal front rather than relaxing.

  2. The results are fantastic.


Lucy Mowatt-11.jpg

Cons

I would share one big caveat though – I’ve not trusted the process quite enough to shoot an entire client session on film. I make sure I’ve got the shot in each location on my digital camera, and then bring out the Bronny. I’ve had blank rolls come back from the lab in the past, albeit with different cameras, and if I was relying on that roll for a paying client I’d be very uncomfortable.

Advice

If you’re looking to try this yourself, I have a couple of bits of advice.

  1. Try both a waist-level and eye-level finder. They’re quite different perspectives when you’re taking portraits, and personally I found the results I got from the eye-level finder far superior, as I tend to do most of my portraits with the subject standing up.

  2. Experiment with shooting on a tripod and shooting handheld. Again, this is likely personal preference, but I really value being able to move around while shooting a subject, and I’ve found that a tripod is yet another thing that can unsettle a model. They’re easily spooked!


Lucy Mowatt-7.jpg

What’s next?

Next up for me on this is to shoot some black and white portraits on the Bronica to see what sort of results I can get. I’ve still only shot colour rolls through it, so I’m interested to see what sort of details I can get with a decent monochrome roll.

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