Stop using white backgrounds for corporate and business headshots
I’ve started to move away from the ubiquitous white backdrop look for corporate and business headshots. When looking around at sites and seeing it in use, I’ve realised it means that people end up looking like commodities, like so many items for sale. They become homogenised.
Without a doubt, it’s a lovely, clean look but there are no other aesthetics involved. I believe people deserve and need to be seen in more context, even if that context is purely a coloured background.
A brightly lit white paper background is fundamentally real, but on a screen becomes screen white. It now doesn’t exist. It’s a cloak of invisibility, usually blending into the website white itself.
It’s great for isolating subjects, but then that’s also the problem.
It’s overdone. It stopped being special some time ago, and now it’s just a request from our clients waiting for another new idea.
White backdrops work for products. But it has much less relevance to humans. We spend barely any time in white spaces in real life, thank goodness because it’s like being bound in straight jackets and locked in a white room.
We ache for more. We want contrast, and we want more information.
Pure white is artifice. And anything artificial (especially in corporate contexts), these days, is quickly going out of fashion.
The frequent use of white backdrops is a result of the weight of the good things it suggests – like bright, airy, freeing, liberating and clean. Designers love it.
But seen in the negative context white is sanitary, boring, overly bright, inconsequential, absent, mediocre, and un-creative.
Photographers know that the brightest part of an image is where the eye goes first.
There is nothing brighter than white on a screen (which is the way we view most headshots). No human is more vivid than white. White competes.
So let’s throw the emphasis the other way. Make the subject (usually, and especially in our context of headshots, it is the face) the brighter part of the scene.
The neutrality of grey and black tones is liberating. We can add warmth or coolness to the background to create a hit of colour if needed, but on their own, it’s surprising how much more we see and notice the subject.
The subject pops out of the background, doesn’t bleed into it. The face grabs us as the highlight this time. Given how we photograph on a white background, it makes sense the human face is the point of difference.
Our corporate and business headshots now garner more attention for precisely that reason. The emphasis is deservedly you.
Discuss your requirements for corporate portraiture and headshots with us. We’re here to help you create a fantastic defining image of you.