David Brent inspired Corporate Photography Do’s and Don’ts!

Ricky Gervais as David Brent attending the world premiere of David Brent: Life On The Road at Leicester Square, London.

(Ricky Gervais as David Brent attending the world premiere of David Brent: Life On The Road at Leicester Square, London.)

It has been over 12 years since we last saw Ricky Gervais as David Brent from cult British TV series “The Office”, but this month he’s returned to the big screen in a spinoff movie titled “David Brent: Life on the Road”.  Not only is David Brent now a sales rep, he is also a singer-songwriter and is on tour with his band, Foregone Conclusion.

As I left my house this morning I was confronted by a huge10ft by 20ft advertising billboard poster of David Brent; smug faced, wearing a cheap beige suit, straight from the 1990’s, and carrying a guitar and it reminded me of some of the more woeful attempts I have seen at corporate photography over the last few years.

You don’t have to have the abs of David Gandy or the legs of Gisele Bundchen to exude an air of professionalism and friendliness in equal measure, and in fact, as a photography director with over a decade shooting fashion models, it is probably best not to show much flesh at all as photos can be very unforgiving to our minor insecurities!

We all can feel self-conscious when having our picture taken but the process need not be as stressful as assumed.  I recently blogged on ‘squinching’, the technique of softening the eyes and looking into the lens, so here I will offer some additional tips for your corporate photo shoot.

Tip 1:

“I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first, boss second. Probably entertainer third.” – David Brent

If you have a senior role in an organisation, wearing a sharp suit and tie or figure defining dress is totally acceptable. Go with block colours; purple, blues and grey translate well in print.  Avoid ties that your mother gave you at Christmas with the elves on it, and leave the killer crocodile heels and plunge neck party dress at home. You need to identify the norms for your business and understand your customers and what they would expect.  Brief your junior members of the team, and make them aware of the dress code, for them it may be more acceptable for a casual look, but still go for crisp shirts, skirts, dress blouses and avoid wearing distracting jewellery, flips flops or baseball caps.  As you are head of the company – dress that one step beyond your team – even in the media business when casual attire is the de-rigueur, it gives you an opportunity to go find a slim fit suit or head to a designer shop and burn the credit card.  Remember, you will invariably have to live with this picture for a couple of years on your website and social media so don’t wear anything that defines a particular fashion trend.  And please, don’t sling a guitar over your shoulder like Brent…

Ricky Gervais attending the world premiere of David Brent: Life On The Road at Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday 10th August, 2016. See PA Story SHOWBIZ Brent. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire.

(Ricky Gervais attending the world premiere of David Brent: Life On The Road at Leicester Square, London. Press Association photo. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire.)

Tip 2:

“People see me, and they see the suit, and they go: ‘you’re not fooling anyone’, they know I’m rock and roll through and through.”  – David Brent

Forget a moody photo shoot against a brick wall in Shoreditch.  Go for fresh locations with floods of natural light, or if using your pictures on multiple platforms online, head to a professional studio or ask your photographer to bring a clean backdrop to your offices, they are quite used to being portable in this regard.  Many people adopt a moody face, which might work if you’re a budding superstar DJ or in the undertaking business, but a friendly smile can be your secret to success.  We all use the fake smile in business settings when we don’t really feel an emotional closeness to those around us; the real smile is reserved for those we truly care about.

There’s no doubt that the “best” smiles are genuine.  They light up your face, crinkle the corners of your eyes and produce positive physiological changes in your body temperature and heart rate.  Some research findings suggest even if the smile is mechanically produced, positive feelings still emerge. The answer to a long lasting business impression is the smile.

Tip 3: 

“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” – David Brent

Your corporate photography shoot definitely needs planning.  Once you have found your photography team, plan your day and ensure all members can attend – in fact enforce it. Having one person missing is very annoying and may lead to increased cost. Find a photographic style you like and brief the photographer. A decent photographer will need a maximum of 15 minutes per person for the individual portraits and allow 30 minutes for those important group shots.  Come up with options for locations – planning your team photo on your uber-cool roof terrace requires a backup plan in case it rains – so try for 2-3 locations if possible for your group shots.

Our team of expert picture editors and photographers offer a unique corporate photography service. Contact Craig Gunn, Photography Manager at TNR, or click here to find out more.

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This blog is brought to you by Craig Gunn, Photography Manager at TNR.