By Douglas Gritz
This week I got a call from Ernst and Young to create a last minute corporate portrait of one of their Denver-based executives. It needed to happen at their Denver office. Was I available? Absolutely!
A lot of my work comes with very little advance notice. It comes with the territory. So I packed up my photography gear and headed to downtown Denver.
Ernst and Young has their Denver office in a high-rise on 17th street. My contact, who works in an Ernst and Young office in another city, gave me explicit instructions to not shoot the photograph in a conference room. I had no problem with that — conference room photos are boring and have been done to death!
However, that leaves few other areas available around an office. The lobby area is my usual go-to first. Unlike conference rooms, lobbies vary in look and appearance, which helps for creating unique portraits.
When I arrived on site I found that Ernst and Young occupies several floors of the high-rise they are in. None of the lobbies were big enough for creating a corporate portrait photograph. Great.
My on-site contact showed me a few alternatives, which were all small offices that were unoccupied. Those, unfortunately, were not going to work either.
What I did notice were the hallways. On one side of each floor the hallway was long with interesting color and architectural elements. I asked (pleaded!) if I could set up for the business portrait there. Length is always a great asset as it allows me to separate my subject from the background. That also allows me to make the background blurry, and with interesting architecture that can lead to a colorful and pleasing background.
Fortunately, they were OK with me using the hallway. I only had one person to photograph so it helped that I wasn’t going to be there long. And I did my best to “keep it simple” so I could move more quickly. I place one my LED lights directly above the eyes of the subject and shot underneath it with a telephoto lens. I placed a second LED camera right behind the subject to give her an edge light, which helps separate her from the background. Next I dropped an Arri 650 light in the background below frame and directed it on the painting you see in the top right corner.