Corporate portraits in natural light

Hard to beat some nice flat, natural, northern light for portraits

These are some images commissioned by the public relations agency, Maltin PR, to update the portraits on the website of one of their clients, a law firm in Clerkenwell. The brief was to create ‘modern’ looking images. Not stiff, stuffy business portraits. As with most shoots, it was a case of turn up and see what works. They had flagged up some portraits on my website, as a style guide, that involved Profoto lights and chimera softboxes and the use of the surroundings. So I took all these to the location. Only to find, once there, that a small meeting room had been allocated – most of it taken up with a large table – hopeless for pictures. (Despite the receptionist insisting that was where pictures are normally taken).

( A constant problem with shooting in offices in places like London, is the space. Small rooms, full of tables and chairs. Low ceilings. Downlighters in the ceiling that can’t be switched off, unless you turn off all the lights on that floor. Nasty mixed artificial lights that pulse out differing colours…)

Outside these offices was a perfect atrium of light and glass. It was a dull day (actually these images were taken over two days, but the weather didn’t differ much) but there was still a nice flat light. The only problem was that there was no permission to be able to shoot there. Certainly no setting up of big lights on stands. So negotiations on the phone by the law firm boss and permission was finally granted to shoot around the corner.

No lights. No lightstands. Even no reflectors. Just a camera, a lens or two and some perfect (if a bit dull) Northern light coming from some large semi-opaque windows by the elevators. Like a massive softbox, creating a soft, flattering light – perfect for modern-looking portraits. There is a reason why for hundreds of years, artist studios have always faced the light from the north. It may not be especially bright but it works. It flatters. It’s a look recreated in studios around the world with big, expensive softboxes and strobes.

Sometimes it’s not about loads of lighting equipment – it’s about the light that is already there, and using it to the full.

Plus a Behind-the-Scenes shot – that useful diffused glass window!

Natural light corporate portrait photography


  1. Martin,

    As always great pix, hope this is a cracking year for you.

  2. Spot on. You nailed it twice – the shots are first class; and your point that keeping it simple is so often the right path is so, so right.

  3. Awesome work Matrin! Thanks so much for posting this and sharing your work. I have to do corporate headshots for people at work next week and this is the look Im hoping to achieve, natural light. Thanks Martin

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