top of page

The Architects

The Client: Mass Architecture, York.

The brief: Outdoor headshots; indoor environmental portraits

Having taken on some new starters, York-based firm Mass Architecture was in need of some new headshots. The preference was that these would emulate the look of the existing members' headshots, which had been taken outdoors against the York Walls, so we ambled from the office on The Mount up to Micklegate Bar and, braving the cold, took our coats off (well, they did: I remained dressed like an Arctic explorer) to capture images including these, which were cropped wide just like the images on which they were based. The light was completely natural (and gorgeous).

As much as I love a good headshot, my absolute favourite way to show a client is with an environmental portrait. This type of image is shot wider than a headshot and shows off the subject's working environment too: it essentially tells their story. And luckily for me, Charlotte was in the market for such a portrait. Here's one of the shots I took.

Apart from being a good deal more interesting than a standard head-and-shoulders-against-a-plain- background, the idea of an environmental portrait is to show what the subject does.

I showed this picture to a friend and asked "What do you think Charlotte's job is?"

"Architect," he replied. Job done.

For composition reasons I wanted to show the window in the shot and so moved Charlotte from her own desk to that of a colleague on the side of the office that has windows. However since the window was behind her in the shot it was necessary to light Charlotte using a flash diffused with a white shoot-through umbrella angled diagonally towards her from her left. I invariably light subjects from one side because of the depth this creates. I then ensured that the foreground featured items that screamed "architect" and made sure that these papers were subtly arranged so that the corners of the pages pointed towards the subject. Did you notice? Photographer tricks.

Lighting and composition set up, I shot Charlotte from a number of different angles in both landscape and portrait, some posed and several more not so. I edited these in different crops according to the client's needs, with a 1920x1080 crop to be used as a website banner image as well as some 1080x1350 images that are the perfect size for Instagram. I'll always ask a client what their photos are to be used for, because I've often seen images on websites stretched beyond their natural crop ratio to the point of distortion, and it's a surefire way to ruin a good photo. It's no use having great images if they're not fit for purpose, so before you have any shots done, have a think about how you'll use them and let your photographer know.

For more examples of environmental portraits see here.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page