RIVERSIDE, Calif. (Mar 29, 2014) Portrait of Gale Hammons, director of her own strategic messaging firm, Hammons Strategies. Hammons was the former op-ed editor at The Press-Enterprise. Portraits taken at University of California, Riverside. (Photo: Greg Vojtko)

I appreciate when business men and women go to the trouble to have a professionally-produced headshot or business portrait created of themselves. Recently, a former colleague reached out via LinkedIn as she set about organizing a new enterprise. We arranged to make a portrait of her to use in promoting her new business.

Not having a proper business location to use as an environment for her portrait proved only a minimal challenge. After discussing the issue, we opted to use the grounds of a local university, where she received her MBA. Scouting the previous day, I found this breezeway, with a veneer of bright red cold-fired tiles, and liked how their glossy surfaces reflected the surroundings. It also provided a location where I could control the lighting.

Shooting wide-open with a telephoto zoom lens made for a unique and non-descript background that looks somewhat like a watercolor painting. I used a single Nikon speedlight in a 24×24″ Joe McNally EzyBox Hotshoe Softbox at camera left, in a loop lighting pattern and just slightly hotter than the existing late afternoon light, as my one and only supplement to the existing light. The result is an image where the viewer naturally gravitates to the subject’s eyes.

I admire the look and style of business portraits that many Fortune 500 companies are using now; shot using long lenses, with out of focus backgrounds and lighting that merely augments rather than overpowers the existing natural light. The assignment proved a good exercise in creating such an image.

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