Tabita Cargnel

loves taking pictures of you


At the moment there is a strong demand from young to experienced people looking for new application pictures. People need current pictures that display their personality and show their skills. No matter if you are amateur or photographer, here is a guide which shows you how to create the perfect business picture with a good eye and a reflector on location.


How your perfect business picture looks like varies greatly depending on the sector you want to work in. If you already know that branch, the rule present yourself like you would go to a meeting with the customer could help you.

If you don’t have any idea yet, you should definitely go on the webpage of your company of interest and their competitors, to specifically see what kinds of photos they use online. Linked in is also a very popular platform for this. From these pictures you can learn about the styling used; what kinds of clothing, hair, makeup and accessories. Cut out the accessories if you are not sure about that. The same rule applies to makeup, keep in mind that usually less is more. And don't forget that you might need to iron your clothes before.

keep in mind that usually less is more

The weather. Sunshine is always good. The brighter the day, the more surrounding light you have. In case the weather is not good enough, consider choosing a different date or use a studio. If the weather is bad and the sun is not shining, you won't be able to get the same natural look - even if you are very experienced with using flash light.

Time. Before shooting on location, you must scout out your location to know when, where, what and how to shoot there. In Europe, the best times to shoot in summer are between 3pm and 7pm, where the light is still neutral before the sunset happens.

If you shoot in the afternoon, there will be enough time in the morning to try on all outfits, do the styling etc. In case the light is still too bright from the mid day sun and your subject is squinting you can still wait for the right moment later on. It can take between 2-3 hours for one picture including styling and post production.

How to find a proper location. For business portraits, glass backgrounds are always a good choice. Clearly structured, but simple surfaces are also valuable. Thick metal frames distract from the subject. Brick walls can also look good as long at it stays in the background and is not too colorful.

simplicity can be the key to giving a person an outstanding presence on the photo

But most important is the light: The model should stand in the shade and the background also mostly be covered be shade. In case the area around eyes turns too dark, take a silver-reflector with you. I highly recommend spots under small roofs or short tunnels. In general, the colors blue, green, white and grey have a neutral and modern effect for a business photo.

Don’t forget to take a third person for assistance with you!


The most important thing during the shooting is, that the model feels comfortable. His or her smile is the most significant component of the photo. Just try out different kinds of smiles - big ones and little ones, and decide afterwards which one fits best to the job you're applying for.

Laughing out consciously aloud and or giggling can help to relax and get away from fake smiling. Having fun is the key element to natural photography

Also while taking the pictures keep in mind the principal „present yourself like you would go to a meeting with the customer“. It might sound weird to you, but it helps to silently tell yourself, how you want to present yourself. For example by focussing on specific qualities, such as „I am able to be a competent and convincing consultant“, but also general statements like „I am a self-confident and open minded person“.

The details of the picture should be set beforehand. Do you need a vertical or a horizontal format etc.. When you found the right spot, make sure that all lines in the picture are going upwards. If that‘s not the case, then try a different spot or take the photo facing in a different direction.

falling lines (we read from left to the right, so when they fall to the right) subconsciously imply that in future things won't go that well for you

You can place the person in the middle of the picture, but mostly it appears better if you use the golden cut (if you don't know that yet, google it!). Beginners often make the mistake to leave too much space above the head. If you are not sure about that, the photographer can go a step further away and set the picture detail afterwards in post production.

The photographer should also keep an eye on wrinkle-free clothing, makeup and hair (don’t forget to change the hair during shooting).

After you found the suiting location place the model within 2-3m in front of the background and the photographer should be standing in the sun. That way, the model will be automatically facing to the light and the photographer uses the right light. If possible the camera settings should be set in the manual mode M. To let the background disappear a little and to put the person in the foreground, choose a little aperture - F 3.2 or even F 1.8 for example.

the more distracting your background is, the smaller the number of the aperture should be

If it is a sunny day, ISO should be set on 200 and the exposure time should be adjusted accordingly (on the day we shot it was particularly bright, so 1/1600sec. was a good exposure time). Often the picture looks better when its a little bit too bright at first, but that could cause problems afterwards in the post production, because white spots don't have any structure anymore.

Another tip before you take the photos: first set the position of the camera and then set the position of the model. At our location there were pillars and a statue in the background. Of course the statue should not be on the picture, therefore I told the model where to stand, so the edges of the pillars (that create the areas in the picture) would be in a nice proportion. Another basic-rule: If the person is standing on one side in the picture, its body should be either frontal to the camera or slightly turned to the center of the photo.

One thing I love about my job is teamwork. For the photographer that means: communicate with the model and show them the photos, because two different pairs of eyes always see more than one. Let the assistant look too, allowing more opinions to ultimately capture as many good photos as possible. Of course there can be different opinions, but if you are not sure, just take a photo of both ways and let the applicant choose afterwards.

The camera is set, the model knows its position and you are ready to work together as a team. The next question will be: how do I hold the reflector? This question should be directed at the model - if the silver reflector appears to be lighter than the floor to the model (it still should be in the shadow so it won’t blind the model), then the light reaches his or her eyes. I usually keep asking the model if the reflector still looks bright. That way, the light is set.

After about half an hour up to around one hour you should have the photos you need and can load them on to your laptop - to check out the pictures.


When you have found your favorites, you can go through the basic rules again (here are some additional rules to look out for):

  • Is the picture aligned? Are the lines going upwards?
  • Does the makeup look natural, is the hair styled? -> erase spots if needed. No blur! (Even if you are the super-blur-pro, I highly recommend to not use it here, because it looks unnatural very quickly and you don't need it.)
  • Correct red areas around the nose (color- correction)
  • Lighten up the teeth for a bright smile (really just) very slightly and delete the yellow color (desaturate or work with a blue color) Lighten up the whole picture a little, it is going to look more positive
  • Form a S with to points on the graduation curves, this is gives more contrast and intensifies the colors

I would not work longer than 30 minutes on a business picture, because the danger of making it too artsy and destroy the natural appearance is too big. At the end, the picture will probably only be displayed on a very small scale, so little spots won't be seen.

Have fun with the photos and good luck with the application!!