a mini branding session at Amber Shumake Creative | dfw branding photography

Around 2017, I began to offer branding photography mostly for people who were starting their businesses. What’s been beautiful over the past four years is to see how these images have helped them build a beautiful brand with their websites, social media, and newsletters. This past year, I found a beautiful studio space to call home. With its windows and skylights and white walls, it’s essentially a bright blank canvas. I work in this space every day, so I have design elements like desks, tables, chairs, plants, etc. So, I can create a scene that’s unique and authentic to your brand in a snap. Because I don’t have to schlep my equipment across town to sublease a space, I can offer these sessions at a lower rate than I once could. Whether you’re just starting your business or you’re pivoting your business model or would just simply like to hit refresh on your photos, I’d love to help. These sessions last 45-60 minutes allowing for 2-3 scenes and yielding about 15 images with the commercial license to use these images in ways that elevate your brand. If you’re interested in discussing or booking a session, you can do so HERE via my online schedule. Previous clients can enjoy 20% off. 

Planning Your Corporate Headshots and Employee Portraits | Dallas Fort Worth Commercial Headshot Photographer

Corporate portraits are integral in communicating the image of your company. It’s important to consider the message you are attempting to convey and dress in alignment with that message. For example, is your business culture formal or more casual? Do you prefer to appear more serious or candid? Portraits help to humanize your business and provide prospective clients and people within your industry a way to “meet” you and place a face with a name.  

Types of Corporate Photographs / Headshots:

A. Environmental Corporate Photography: These portraits occur at your office, either inside or outside or another location overlooking the city or a prominent place central to your business. This option ensures that your images are unique to your business culture. Because of the variables of outdoor weather and lighting, it’s important to consider the timing to ensure the consistency among all team members’ portraits. One option is for me to photograph the chosen location and then place people on the background in post processing through Photoshop. This ensures that the backdrop remains consistent without having to have all of your employees at the location at one time.

B. Studio Headshots: I have a studio, and I can also bring the studio to your office which generally makes the process convenient and efficient for your staff. While options for backgrounds are endless, I generally suggest classic white, gray or black tones unless you wish to use company colors for branding purposes. If you have several offices and are updating your employee headshots and portraits companywide, determine whether you prefer studio consistent photography that can be replicated or if you want various offices displayed through environmental photography.

Both environmental and studio photography are excellent options. Discern which aesthetic works better for what you seek to accomplish. You also may decide to do a mixture of both where your company’s headshots may all be shot on a consistent background while your company portrait is shot in or around your office building.

What should I wear?

Think classic. I believe there are few hard, fast rules about what not to wear. With patterns and designs, however, ensure your selection is timeless. Otherwise, in a year, you may feel your headshot is dated. To increase the longevity with your portraits, When you choose timeless clothing options, you increase the longevity of your portraits over time.

Selecting clothes that fit well is paramount. Sometimes people choose baggy clothes in an attempt to appear smaller in body, and I have seen that backfire. Alternately, clothing that is too tight does not photograph well. Prior to choosing what to wear for your session, try your clothing on in front of a full length mirror to see how it moves. In many cases for headshots, you sit. Therefore, take a seat to determine how your clothing lands and clings to you. 

Additionally, please iron your clothes. Sometimes a seat belt can wrinkle certain materials, so it may be preferable to hang your photo session clothing and change into it immediately prior to the session. Layering tops (i.e., a blouse with a sweater or a collared shirt with a jacket) can create a polished look and add dimension to the photograph. 

What colors photograph best?

Again, exceptions to the rules exist. What color do people say, “Wow, that color looks beautiful with your skin and eyes?” Generally, select a shirt color that contrasts against your skin tone, rather than one that blends into your skin. You might also consider the undertones of your skin. 

Your skin’s surface tone is not the same as the undertone. When you’re looking for clothes to match your skin tone, you’re actually looking for clothes that complement your skin’s undertone rather than the surface tone. These articles linked HERE and HERE offer some additional insight into undertones and how to dress for your skin tone. 

A word on black and white and neutrals: I don’t want to discourage you from wearing a crisp white shirt. White reflects light so it naturally brightens your face. With photography, white is the brightest color in the composition and therefore, the first thing the camera and viewer sees. If the background is dark, this can be a stark contrast from the background. If the background is light, the subject (i.e., you) can get a bit lost. Additionally, white can make some complexions appear washed out. Black, on the other hand, will naturally shift the attention to your face. With fair skin tones and light hair, however, the outcome can feel a bit severe. Neutral colors like navy and gray tend to be a bit less harsh. 

Don’t forget to accessorize. 

For an environmental portrait, accessories might not be as important because the background has some visual interest. WIth a studio portrait in particular, consider a pop of color with a pocket square. Add a lapel pin to help communicate who you are.

Select jewelry that is subtle and classic. If on a daily basis, you enjoy flashy statement pieces, it is perhaps acceptable to wear for a headshot. What you don’t want to do is wear a piece of jewelry that steals the attention away from your face. As mentioned before, trendy jewelry can age your photographs.

What about hair and makeup?

You want your portrait to be easily recognizable and you don’t want the make-up to overpower the portrait. With that said though, the camera reads makeup a bit lighter than it actually is. Pictures are not three dimensional so makeup will create depth and definition in your face. People who wear makeup should apply make-up a little heavier than usual. At the very least choose a neutral cheek and lip color, and mascara for your photo session.

I frequently collaborate with professional hair and makeup artists whom I trust. They are available to come to your office and be on-set at an hourly, half-day, or full-day rate. Or, I can help you arrange hair and makeup with them before the session at their studio. I can eliminate stray hairs in post processing. If you color your hair or have other beauty treatments that help you look your best, I suggest making those appointments a week prior to your headshot session. 

Additional Things 

If you wear glasses but do not want to wear them for your photograph, take them off about 20 minutes early so you will not have indentations on your nose. You are more than welcome to wear glasses for your portrait. Especially if you wear glasses daily, your portrait should look like you being you. Glasses that have heavy prescriptions that magnify the size of your eyes or transitional lenses can be challenging. In these cases, when possible, it’s optimal to wear glasses without a prescription in them. I understand this is not always possible, and I have extensive experience photographing people who wear glasses, so just give me a little extra time to adjust my lighting if needed. 

For some portraits, only the head and shoulders are in the frame. For others, your hands may be visible. Clip your fingernails or get a manicure. If you wear nail polish, ensure it complements the rest of your attire. 

Beyond Headshots

In addition to providing  corporate portraits and headshots, I am a full-service photographer offering product and interior photography for all of your marketing content needs. If there are places in your digital presence where you are utilizing stock images, I’d love to create something relevant and authentic to your business. I have a guide HERE that could help. 

If you have questions about how photographs could elevate your digital presence, I’m here to help. Send me an email via the contact form, or you can book your session or phone call directly at bit.ly/ambershumake.com


In music, are you more interested in the notes or the space between? Do you listen first to the vocals or the percussion? It’s fascinating how as individuals, we can hear the same thing, so differently. 

I might be entirely wrong about this because I don’t always know what I don’t know, and I certainly am frequently too close  to see myself objectively; however, when people hire me for branding photos, I believe they’re hiring me because they want something unique to their brand and different from the norm. I say this because everyone has a camera at their fingertips, and you probably know at least three photographers. 

I created these photographs with Rich Malloy , and on our initial call, he said, “I love what you did with Lauren.” I swallowed. At once, I felt full of pride and also fear. Pride because I absolutely love that set I created with her.  Fear because I never quite know if I can replicate my artistic process in a unique way that’s relevant to each person. Perhaps, that fear is just imposter syndrome. Or, maybe it’s that I feel invested in  the product and service that I’m offering to people. 

So, I do it scared. 

I knew I wanted to use layers of shadow and  light, texture, motion via long exposures and double exposures to bring to life the undertones that percussion brings to life in music. And, I overshot the session because the weather was gloomy which is par for the course in mid December, and I was in Rich’s incredible studio, but that means I don’t know the lighting in the way that I do my own studio. As usual, I awaited the film scans with about as much patience as a toddler waits for Christmas. When I received them, I was blown away. So was Rich. 

This feels like an exceptional session on which to end such a strange year. 

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