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  • Writer's pictureAnastasia Sucitu

Mastering Company Initiatives Photography: A Guide to Shooting with Professional Kit

People often say a photo is worth a thousand words, and that's really true. Photography is an art form that lets us keep memories of both important and everyday moments in our lives.

A good photo can make you feel an emotion or a certain vibe, and take you on a story journey. But besides these artsy parts, which help us creators share our ideas with viewers, there are also some technical and how-to details we need to think about.

Mastering photography with a professional kit

So, today we're sharing our experience from Thunder, talking about one of the biggest topics in photography, which is corporate/business photography. This includes all sorts of photos like ones for websites, product photos, event photos, and more.

Corporate photography has become really popular in recent years and keeps getting bigger. There are many good things about taking community photos. They help in showing off your brand's personality and focus on differences that can make positive changes and impact society.

The process of making photos is super important. It usually involves coming up with the idea, getting ready, and then actually taking the photos.

With that in mind, we've developed a practical way of shooting moments, especially for capturing key moments at events you're organizing, for internal projects, or just to stay up-to-date with what's new in the world of photography.

Table of contents:

How To Make Avatar Photos for Websites

Nowadays, websites are a must for almost all businesses. What makes a website look great are the pictures we use on it.

The most important pictures are in the 'About Us' section, showing the whole company team, and how these pictures are made is really important.

A profile picture tells a lot about your personality, energy, work experience, and what you do. You should plan your photo session once you have a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like. Here are some steps to follow when you're taking portrait photos for your website.

Overall Picture

Before you start shooting pictures for your website, it's super helpful to think about what you want to communicate with the pictures you'll pick for the section. The message you want to send to the public needs some details figured out before the photo session.

Decide Where to Shoot

Here, it's important to think about whether you want to take the photos indoors in a studio, or outside. We suggest taking photos indoors because it lets you control the light, the background, and the conditions of the shoot.

Mood and How You Make the Subject Feel

This really matters and can make a big difference between great photos and not-so-great ones. It's all about conveying the personality of the person in the photo beyond just the screen and picture.

Avatar photos for employees

Background Used

The background should be simple so it doesn't distract the focus from the person in the photo. White or black backgrounds are professionally recommended as they're really popular and can guarantee great results, no matter where the photos are posted.

Even though we suggest using a simple background, don't be afraid to try something different to stand out. Be original by using a welcoming background that fits the culture your company promotes.

Key Light, Fill Light, and Back Light

If you're going for professional, high-quality photos, it's a good idea to use 3 lights: a main light, a secondary light, and a backlight. Lighting is really important, especially when telling a story through photos, mixing clear shapes in the light with deep shadows.

The lights vary in how strong they are and where they are placed compared to the main person. The key light is the strongest and is placed at a 45-degree angle. The fill light is from the side and not as strong. The backlight is behind the person, outside of the camera view, to separate them from the background. 

Key light, fill light and back light in photography
Types of Lights

Three-point lighting can be done in lots of creative ways, depending on the lights you use. Just experiment with the distance of the subjects, change the light intensity, and look for cool angles.

Professional Camera or Phone

Using a professional camera is recommended because the quality of the photos can affect the way your website looks. The better the quality, the more people will see your website as an outstanding one, developing your brand identity and giving the audience an insight into who they’ll be dealing with. Of course, you could use your phone, but those photos might not look as professional, which might not be what you want. We'll talk more about the technical details of the cameras later.

Position The Camera Correctly

When you set up the camera on a tripod, it's essential to position it neither too high nor too low. The height at which the camera is placed can have a significant impact on the perspective and how we want to convey the message about our subject.

The camera should ideally be positioned at the eye level of the subject. This helps in capturing the most natural and flattering angles of the person. When the camera is aligned with the subject's eyes, it creates a direct and engaging connection with the viewer of the photo.

Positioning the camera at eye level also prevents distortion. For instance, if the camera is placed too high, it can make the subject look smaller or give an unnatural emphasis on the top of the head. In contradiction, if the camera is too low, it can make the subject appear larger and can distort facial features, often unfavourably.

How to Shoot Event Photography

Event photography isn't just about taking the usual pictures of people sitting at tables and talking. It's more about how to capture the exchange of experiences that occur during the event, the connections that form between people, and the thread of stories that create personal or professional links among the participants. The images taken are valuable material through which we manage to transmit some of the event's vibe. These can be used for promotional purposes, or why not, just to keep the beautiful memories of the event.

Choose The Right Equipment 

Good equipment is vital when we prepare to take pictures at an event.

Some examples are:

Professional Camera

Try as much as possible to use a professional camera. At events with less light, try not to use flash. Instead, you can use a higher ISO (image sensor sensitivity) so as not to bother people in the room.

What is ISO? ISO represents the camera's sensitivity level to light. However, be very careful about how you use it, so as not to degrade the image quality.

High ISO or Low ISO? When setting a high ISO, noise might appear in the picture in the form of grains, and these grains increase as we raise the ISO values for light sensitivity. This grain effect can be reduced when processing the pictures, but don’t rely on this aspect and try to make the pictures as clean as possible from the start.

How to use the ISO setting
Grain Effect in High & Low ISO

In practice, the ISO value depends on the exposure time. Thus, if we photograph in the dark, it is necessary to have a high ISO value and a long exposure time. Or there's the option to use a low ISO and a tripod. With its help, we can avoid image movement at a slow exposure time.

Also, it is necessary for the aperture to be as open as possible to allow as much light to enter the lens. We will discuss the aperture in detail below in the following sections, but for now, all you need to know is that the aperture represents the iris opening that determines the amount of light that passes through the lens to the sensor.

Camera settings for ISO
ISO Settings on a Camera

It would be recommended for the technical ISO value of the camera to be able to go up to 3200, in necessary cases. But from my experience, I can say that everything that goes over 1600 is undesirable because it produces image noise.

In cases where you photograph in darker environments, it is recommended to select an ISO starting from 1600 to 3200. Be careful that the aperture does not drop below F2.8, as it would be difficult to make the photos focused. For group photos, it would be recommended to select F/4 values because it helps us capture both the center and the side parts of the group coherently.

The Lenses

At an event, it would be necessary to have a telephoto lens. With its help, you have the possibility to capture subjects located at greater distances, having the framed zoom option. They represent a real help when the speaker is at a considerable distance from us, or when you do not have access to capturing closer frames with the participants.

Generally, the great superpower of telephoto lenses is to capture intimate frames, smiles, and sincere emotions that can be diminished when you let them know you want to take a picture of them. Of course, these telephoto lenses are divided into categories and differ depending on their focal length and aperture.

If we explain in technical terms the focal length, it represents the distance between its optical center and the camera's sensor. Usually, these values can be found written on the lens. All we need to know is that the focal length gives us the zoom. For example, if we use an object with a fixed focal length, it will be a single number, such as 24 mm or 135 mm. On the other hand, if we use a zoom lens, this means that the focal length varies. It will be a range, such as 15-35 mm or 24-70 mm.

The aperture represents our lens' iris, regulating the amount of light that reaches the sensor, and depending on this, the depth of field changes.

Now that we understand better the operating principles of telephoto lenses, let's see what lenses would be okay to use.

The ideal lens for event photos is 24-70 mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8. These lenses have the capacity to capture everything related to ensemble photography, group photography, close-up photos, and photos with the speaker while delivering the presentation. Keep in mind that zoom lenses have a variable aperture, which means that the aperture you set is different, depending on the position the lens is set.

For example, a 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM (ultrasonic motor - used for a quick and easy focus) lens has a maximum aperture of f/4 at the 24 mm end and f/6.3 at the 240 mm end. When purchasing a zoom lens, I advise you to opt for a maximum aperture, such as f/2.8, as it will offer you excellent stability between the benefits of a large aperture and the flexibility of different focal lengths.

Of course, if you have a limited budget, then you can manage using a fixed 50mm f 1.8 lens, which is much more affordably priced. Lenses that have a fixed focal length have the best apertures, being a perfect choice for low-light photography, as well as creating a reduced depth of field.

Pay Attention To The Lighting

Before the event starts, it is necessary to ensure how the room is lit. Light plays a crucial role when we want to capture good pictures, being absolutely essential.

It would be recommended to arrive earlier at the location and try to observe what kind of light you have. In case you have natural light, then you can use it, and if not, then it might be necessary to bring some lights or be careful from which angles you can get well-lit frames. Ideally, you should use all the light sources you have, both artificial and natural.

Make sure that the shutter is not set to small specifications, as it can cause blurriness in the picture, the pictures will be blurry and moved, this effect being caused by handshaking.

Use A Tripod

In many cases, it is necessary to use a tripod or, why not, a gimbal (stabilizer), if you have the possibility. Using it helps us significantly in stabilizing the image and the way we capture the ambient frames.

It is recommended to have 2 tripods on hand, one to be placed behind the scene, and the other to be placed on the side of the stage. In this way, we will have an open perspective on the speakers on stage, and of the room, capturing the enthusiasm, connection, and concentration of people on the speakers' speech.

Take a Lot of Shots Before the Event Starts

This tip will help you a lot in post-production, making a recap video, or simply for posts in which you want to capture the work of the entire team that contributed to the event. I call them behind-the-scenes frames.

These behind-the-scenes frames represent the story of the entire event, conveying authenticity, starting from the idea of conception, the preparation process in which the entire team is involved, to the moment of its unfolding. A good tip would be to capture frames with the team while they prepare the stage, the sound, arrange the decor, and prepare small gifts for the guests. Simply, be ready to capture the entire team in action.

Event's behind the scenes photos

When you take the frames, be careful of the emotion, enthusiasm, every detail that can tell a story. Let people express themselves in their own way, don't tell them to smile at the camera or to prepare in a certain way for the pictures, or even worse, to position them in a certain posture to stand still until you take the pictures. Besides the fact that the person in question no longer behaves authentically in the picture because they have to stand in a certain way set beforehand, you also torment them by making them wait until you take the picture. Avoid such practices.

Let everything happen as authentically, as realistically as possible, everything should flow naturally. This is where the originality and charm of such pictures lie. Don't try to control everything. Even if the pictures don't come out right the first time, no problem, this can be remedied over time once you start practicing constantly. And don't forget that failure is the best teacher.

Shoot in Raw

Shooting in RAW is a great way to process your photos after you've taken them. Why? Because RAW format keeps all the important details of your pictures. This means you have more flexibility when editing, allowing you to make more dynamic changes to your photos.

In RAW, you can even rescue overexposed (too bright) or underexposed (too dark) areas in photos that have both very bright and dark spots. The JPG format lets you view and send your photos online more easily, but it doesn't keep the same quality as RAW does.

Remember, it's all about what you prefer and what you're used to when taking photos.

But I suggest giving RAW a try for easier editing and better color quality in your photos. If you're new to this, a quick search on YouTube or Google can show you the differences between editing in these two formats. Don't just stick to what you know – explore and learn more to make your photo process more efficient.

Oh, and whichever format you choose, don't forget about memory cards!

They are super important for storing the photos you take. It's best to have a card with a large storage capacity, reasonable speed, and compatibility with your camera. 

If you want to dive deeper into the technical details of memory card specifications and compatibility, just let us know – we could develop this topic in a more technical article.

Pay Attention to the Background

The background in your photos can play a big part. It can really enhance your picture by harmoniously framing all the key elements, especially at events.

The importance of the background in event photography

When you're taking photos, focus on the main subject, but also leave some space for other secondary elements in the background. These secondary elements are important because they show the direct interaction, connections, and variety of moments as participants communicate and react to messages.

By following all these tips, you can be sure that every image you take at an event will be unique and creative, while also considering the technical aspects. With a little planning and creativity, you'll definitely capture amazing photos at any event you organize.

Team Building Photos 

Capturing the perfect team photo is a delightful challenge, especially in a dynamic work environment like ours. As our team grows, the task becomes more engaging. It's key to strike a balance, ensuring the photo is vibrant and captures our spirit, without becoming monotonous or losing sight of its intended message. 

Photos Taken with a Smartphone

Taking photos during a team building doesn't always require special equipment. You can also use a smartphone. Using a smartphone for photography can be simpler and easier because you don't have to worry as much about technical aspects.

Pay special attention to light and focus. It's important to capture the whole team engaged in various group activities, the joy and the connections being made among participants. Try to use different shooting angles, both from a distance and up close.

Group photos in teambuildings

Of course, using a phone can be even easier when we want to quickly take a selfie or a random photo with the whole team at a certain location. You don't need any special equipment, just use whatever you have to support and stabilize the phone so that the picture comes out clear. So, choose the right angle, set the timer for 5-10 seconds, everyone needs to be in position, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... and voila, the photo is ready. 

That's how the photo below was taken with the entire Thunder team in Abu Dhabi.

Group photos taken with timer

Also, just think about this - there are places where you can't really bring a camera, maybe because it's tricky to carry it around or it's not suitable for the activities you're doing with your team. That's where your phone comes to the rescue. Using it to snap photos can be a real lifesaver in these situations.

Just like what happened to us when we all went on an ATV adventure in the desert. It was totally impossible to bring along a camera, so we ended up taking all our pictures with our phones.

Photo taken with the phone in teambuilding

In addition to all these benefits mentioned, a superpower of the phone that solves a quick problem is the ability to edit photos directly on the phone, and they can be quickly uploaded to social networks. Whereas with a camera, the process is much more time-consuming, as it takes time to download and edit the photos. 

Photos Taken with a Professional Camera

Initially, it's good to know the location of the event. It could be indoors, like in an office or workshop, or outdoors, like in an adventure park, for example.

When you use a professional camera, you might find its technical parts a bit complicated. I said earlier that it's important to use one, but you really need to know these technical parts well. This helps you manage any kind of photo situation, like when you're taking pictures of a group.

In this process, it's essential to understand how to correctly use the aperture, which helps us control the amount of light passing through the lens and the depth of field, which refers to the range of distances from the camera.

Pay Attention to Depth of Field and Aperture Opening

Shallow Depth of Field

The depth of field in a photo refers to the size of the focused area. Essentially, the focused part of the image is called the focal plane.

A shallow depth of field is when the aperture opens wider, increasing the depth of field and capturing only what is in the foreground in front of the camera, meaning the depth of field is just a few millimeters.

Photography with a shallow depth of field
Shallow Depth of Field — Aperture F/2

Larger apertures produce a shallower depth of field, so if you want to take close-up photos of subjects with a blurred background, you'll have a wide-open aperture.

You can also adjust the aperture and change the focus range or blur the background using the A mode (Aperture Priority) on your camera. Once you select A mode, you'll set the desired F value (aperture opening): a lower F value means the subject is in focus but objects in front and behind are blurred; a higher F value means the subject, foreground, and background are all in focus. The shutter speed will automatically adjust to get the correct exposure.

Deep Depth of Field

A deep depth of field has a focal plane several meters wide, meaning once the aperture closes, the depth of field increases, and the background becomes clearer, allowing you to distinguish everything in the background.

Photography with a deep depth of field
Deep Depth of Field — Aperture F/22

For group photos, it's necessary to have a wide focal plane to capture the entire group. But be aware, as the aperture narrows, F values increase (f/11, f/20), and the amount of light entering the lens decreases, so you might need to slightly increase the ISO. But be careful not to get noise and blur in your photos.

The F numbering can be a bit tricky to understand due to the inverse relationship. The smaller the F number, the wider the aperture, and vice versa. So, a large aperture (f/14) lets in more light to the sensor. A small aperture (f/22) reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor.

Camera settings for aperture
Aperture Settings on a Camera

Remember, F values refer to the aperture opening. A smaller aperture narrows the focused area, allowing you to fully focus on the subject and blur everything in front and behind (reducing depth of field).

Larger F values narrow the aperture and expand the focus area, allowing you to capture all objects in the frame, blurring the background (increasing depth of field).

To experiment with depth of field, I recommend using this simulator: With it, you can easily visualize what happens to the depth of field as you adjust different features like focal length or aperture. This kind of tool is really helpful in understanding how changes in these camera settings can affect the sharpness and blur in your photos. It's a great way to see the practical effects of these adjustments in real-time. 

Shutter Speed 

It's like a dance of light and time. Shutter speed is all about how long your camera's shutter stays open when you snap a photo. Think of it as a tiny curtain in front of the camera sensor.

Camera settings for shutting speed
Shutter Speed Settings on a Camera

Slow Shutter Speed 

This is like opening your window on a sunny day; lots of light floods in. When your camera's shutter opens up for a longer time, your photos can get super bright, sometimes even a bit too bright (overexposed). It's great for those low-light situations or when you want to capture that smooth, dreamy look in moving objects.

Fast Shutter Speed 

Now, think of it as a quick peek outside. The shutter opens and closes in a flash, so less light sneaks in. This means your photo might turn out darker. Perfect for those bright days or when you want to freeze motion, like capturing a bird in mid-flight.

Remember, shutter speed isn't just about light; it also plays with motion. Slow for blur, fast for clarity. We'll dive more into these magical effects in our upcoming articles, where we'll explore the wonders of shutter speed in more detail.

Background Blur

From the above discussion, we've established that for group photos, the aperture should be closed to capture everything, making a clear background.

But what if we want a blurred background? The secret is to place the group at a greater distance from the lens, which will give you a soft and blurred background. However, pay attention to composition and distance from the background. In short, a blurred background makes objects appear clear without needing to change the aperture.

From my own experience, when taking group photos, I start with the aperture set at f/8, then adjust based on distance and image. But if photographing a group of 50 people, I start with the aperture setting from f/11, placing everyone in the same line and at an equal distance from the lens.

Merchandise Photography

Taking merchandise photos can be a challenging task, as it requires a special setup equipped with specific equipment and techniques.

The setup for merchandise photography
Setup for Merchandise Photography

Use a Tripod

Using a tripod offers the possibility to take aligned pictures and maintain the same framing from one photo to another. The tripod can be an essential tool for creating the clearest and most professional photos. At the same time, it helps us to fix the camera on a stable surface, which gives us the possibility to adjust its position through easy movements of the top part of the tripod.

Choose the Right Background

The background used should be as simple as possible and not stand out, providing value to the final image. Here it would be advisable to choose an image style that best suits the brand of the products you are promoting and depending on the purpose of the photograph. As ideas, you could use a black wall, light gray, or white. In general, the white background is the most used because it is neutral, and in this way, it does not color the subject through light reflection. Most e-commerce websites display their products on a white background.

Merchandise photography

Another recommended background is green and blue chroma, which are practically used for quick clipping of the subject in photo processing and placing them in a specific setting. It is an efficient and easy method because these two color shades are the least encountered on skin, clothes, etc.

Also, for product photos, you can use photo tables specifically designed for this type of photography, but it is not mandatory. Be creative and use various types of backdrops made from different products: cardboard background, canvas background, PVC (plastic material). A tip to follow is related to blurring the background, and this can be done by reducing the aperture.

Shoot Close-Up

Close-up photographs present the product in an attractive way, highlight its features, and contribute to creating a visual brand identity.

To take close-up photos, use a lens with a focal length of 50mm/ F2.8. A cheaper alternative to macro lenses or the use of close-up filters. These can be used on any type of lens, fixed or zoom, without affecting the quality of the photographs or distorting them. Thus, depending on the proximity distance, the image can be magnified up to 10 times, having values between +1 and +4 for diameters between 49mm and +10 only for 49, 52, and 58mm.

Use Artificial Light in Indoor Spaces

Light can play an essential role especially if we take close-up pictures, in a closed space. The positioning of the light is essential because it will give the final visual balance.

Overall, if the object you are photographing is angular, it will represent a stronger contrast between the areas where the light reaches and those it does not reach. And if you photograph an object with rounded edges, its structure will allow the creation of fine transitions between the bright areas and the darker ones.

For starters, you can use a single LED light with moderate light intensity if you have objects with fine transition zones. To illuminate angular objects, you can use multiple light sources, placed in different positions, to highlight every detail in the area of incidence.

Main Ideas

In summarizing the diverse photography techniques discussed, each context necessitates its distinct approach and equipment to achieve the best results, extending from event and team building photography, to merchandise photography and creating avatar photos for websites.

  • Profile Photos for Websites: Creating avatar photos involves focusing on clarity, simplicity and capturing the essence of an individual's personality or brand identity. These photos are often close-ups, so lighting and background are critical. A neutral background helps keep the focus on the subject. Soft, diffused lighting is preferable to avoid harsh shadows. The goal is to create a professional yet approachable image that resonates with the website's audience or aligns with the brand's image.

  • Event Photography: This style is all about capturing the lively interactions, connections and stories that unfold during events. Utilizing professional cameras with the right ISO and aperture settings is key. Mastery of depth of field and lighting are critical in encapsulating the event's atmosphere.

  • Team Building Photography: Here, the focus is on capturing team dynamics. Both smartphones and professional cameras can be effectively utilized. For professional cameras, understanding aperture, depth of field, shutter speed and the importance of using a tripod for consistent and stable shots is essential.

  • Merchandise Photography: This type requires a more controlled setup. Using a tripod ensures precision and consistency in shots. Selecting the right background, such as a simple white backdrop or chroma green for easy post-editing, is crucial to emphasize the product. Techniques like close-up photography and the use of artificial lighting, particularly in indoor settings, are pivotal for highlighting product details.

Combining all these elements, from lighting and background selection to camera settings (like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed) and equipment usage (such as tripods and lenses), is vital across these diverse photography fields. 

Each genre requires adapting these techniques to meet specific needs, whether capturing the essence of an event, the dynamics of a team, the details of merchandise, or creating a professional avatar for website use. The overarching goal is to produce visually compelling and purposeful images that align with the intended use in each photography domain.


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