I live in Calgary, AB and the corporate culture here is huge. Many of the largest Canadian oil companies have chosen to call downtown YYC home, erecting massive buildings brandished with their companies logo. The wealth and power that flows through this city is really quite incredible. Over the past year I've started working with a lot of these companies to produce portraits of their top level executives for products like their annual reports. It doesn't have the glitz of a fashion style gig with awesome styling, or amazing hair/makeup, or gorgeous models, but I think that's what initially attracted me to the work. It's far more honest.
For this particular shoot, I was hired by an agency out of Toronto to photograph the new CEO of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. for their annual report. The catch to this job was that another photographer had already attempted to take these portraits, and for lack of a better word, failed. I was shown the previous photos supplied to the agency by the other photographer where the CEO just basically looked uptight and uncomfortable, neither of which being an even remotely accurate representation of who he really is.
A huge part of being a portrait photographer is creating a level of trust between you and your subject so that they can get out of their own head and stop thinking about every shitty photo they have seen of themselves. You need them to trust you to create something better than what they have previously seen, and that trust will only come from an ability to relate to them, and treat them as you would a friend, not as some random person in front of you camera. How you do that is up to you. For me, I always have a conversation going, finding out more about the person in front of me, telling them about myself, sharing a few laughs, and getting them comfortable to the point where the camera isn't the focus anymore, it's just part of what's happening. That is when I start shooting. Lighting is important, but trust is key.
Here are a few setup shots as well as the resulting photos.
Thanks for reading. As always, if you have any questions, sound off in the comments.