I work in the entertainment industry and am looking to produce friendly looking images of our employees (sales managers, customer support people, and so on) to put on our company's website.

  1. What things should I be considering in order to get the best pictures possible?
  2. I have a "canvas" of 203×227 (width×height) and image on canvas would be 152×157. Currently I have different sizes of images. What would be the best way to make images that fit well into that image size, aspect ratio with respect to the image size (i.e. 152×157)?
  3. What should the background/lighting of the image be?
  4. Any advice, hints etc.?
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Muhammad, I tried to clean up your question a bit in order to make it fit better within the guidelines of our site. It's important to note that this is not a critique site, so I removed that aspect of your questions. Also this site works better with specific questions, and some of yours are quite general in nature. This will put your question in danger of being voted to be closed as 'too broad and therefore unanswerable.' I'd recommend narrowing the focus of your questions (especially #1 and #4) in order that we can better help you ... \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2011 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Taking a look at our sites FAQ: photo.stackexchange.com/faq may also help you to better understand what is on topic here and also help you to reshape your questions to be more focused. \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2011 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jay, thanks for editing my question. I have also removed pics because that was not making sense now. Thanks for the help. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kashif
    May 6, 2011 at 6:32

5 Answers 5


For a standardish "head and shoulders" business portrait, there are a number of conventions you might want to consider. As ever, these are guidelines not rules and will probably make your images more conventional which may not be the look you are after.

Aspect ratio

For a "business portrait" you probably want an aspect ratio of between 1:1.6 to 1:1.2, depending on the layout of your website. I'm not sure I understand your constraints regarding image size, so you may have to work this out yourself. But if your maximum image height is 208 pixels you probably want to consider an image width between 132 and 175. The golden ratio of 1:1.61 is considered by some to be aesthetically pleasing.

You may also want to consider where you place the subject in the frame. Generally, you have the face centred in the frame with the eyes two-thirds of the way up the frame.


I would advice looking at different styles of lighting to see what suits you, and probably vary these depending on the subject. However, the one constant is that you will want off-camera lighting, whether it is natural or artificial. Lighting styles you may wish to investigate include:

You probably also want to ensure your subject have a twinkle in their eye or catchlight.


This is a stylistic choice in terms of colour, but you generally want to avoid a skin-toned background. Probably the most important thing when it comes to background is that it is neutral and uncluttered. Positioning your subject a good distance from the background massively improves portraits, whether the background be black or white. Portrait photography is much more difficult if you do not have sufficient room between the subject and background.

Other "tips"

Focal length

The "classic" portrait focal length is 80mm to 135mm on a 35mm camera, or 50mm to 85mm on a 1.6 crop sensor. If you choose a focal length that is much wider than that you risk distorting the subjects features.

Depth of field

As you are focusing on the head and shoulders, you probably want a narrowish depth of field to blur out uninteresting background details. Consider an aperture of f/2.8 - f/4. How much of the face you keep in focus is a matter of taste, but make sure you always focus on the eyes.


Unless your colleagues are exceptionally handsome, you might want to consider posing them on a slight angle to the camera.

It might take you awhile to get the subject comfortable enough with being photographed to start looking natural and comfortable, so take your time, chat and be prepared to take lots of shots you will delete later.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Apologies for the numerous edits, I was compiling this slowly on a dodgey connection, not trying to "bump" the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – fmark
    May 6, 2011 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries fmark, the result was excellent! \$\endgroup\$
    – awe
    Jun 17, 2011 at 12:12

One of the simplest and rather pleasing employee photo styles is this style. I've used this for formal portraits and it makes most people look appealing and friendly.

A fill / key light through a large modifier on a slight angle to the camera, and a secondary light from 90 degrees or more on the opposite side, preferrably through a modifier. It's three dimensional but is well lit and is not too dramatic in terms of shadows and such.

It's also a cheap and quick setup, and if you can find a white wall, then you don't have to worry about using a backdrop.

enter image description here enter image description here

  1. Use a decent camera, not your cell phone.

  2. Bring lighting equipment to properly and consistently illuminate your subject. Know how to use it to produce the best result.

  3. Have each person pose in the same way. Usually at a 3/4 angle to the camera with their head turned back towards the camera. The light should be at either camera left or right and aiming at a 45° angle to the subject.

  4. Pay attention to clothing, hair, glasses and all those little details that people will groan about later on.

  5. If possible, have the sitter review the images on a larger screen than the one on your camera. If anything catches your attention or theirs, fix it immediately.

  6. Use the same camera settings consistently. Nothing looks worse in a set of portraits when the background is soft on some and sharp in others.

  7. Make sure that the team knows the photos will be done before the day of the shoot. They need to have a chance to prepare and be presentable.

  8. Shoot ALL portraits in the exact same spot every time. It looks weird and makes the viewer subconsciously uneasy if the location changes from one portrait to the next. This could be omitted if a moveable backdrop is used.

  9. Make sure the white balance is consistent and correct in all pictures. Your subjects should not be green. Ever.

  10. Try to have the sitter emote a genuine, but not overly energetic emotion. A casual smile is much better than a forced one. Again, have them review the images and together with the photographer, pick the best one.

    portrait of female employee within auto dealership

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Mike, welcome to Photo.SE. Nice answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:23

I'm assuming you are looking for shots which will be put on a site to promote your company, rather than for internal use.

You might want to look at stock photography sites to get ideas, as there are many thousands of great photographs of happy employees in a variety of poses and lighting conditions. Example stock sites are Shutterstock and iStockPhoto.

Currently the most popular results on those sites are brightly-lit portraits with white or light-blue backgrounds.


I'd prefer shots (depending on the business, and the intended viewers of course) that are somewhat less staged than a studio setting.
Take a camera into the workspaces and shoot them at their desks, at the coffee machine, in the carpark :)
Less clinical that way. Unless of course you want the photos to double for use on things like building passes, in which case a single standard look is preferred.


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