Portrait and wedding photographer, Robert Pugh, always knew that a desk job just wasn’t for him. Photography had always been a huge part of his life growing up, so it was only natural that he would choose it as a full-time career. Having left the armed forces in search of a new adventure, Rob channelled his love of travelling and meeting new people into pursuing a future in photography.
But Rob entered the world of commercial headshots out of necessity to begin with, but Rob avoids looking at any of his photography as a job or a chore; loving everything that he creates equally. “It started as a gap filler,” Rob admits. “Weddings were only on weekends, so I needed work Monday to Friday. I started taking headshots for client’s LinkedIn profiles and quickly realised that it was big business.”
Yet even what appears to be a simple job can be unforgiving. Despite the demand for high-impact, corporate headshots, the genre is extremely fast-paced and needs to fit in with the often equally hectic schedules of the clients; presenting a number of challenges for the photographer. “The main difference between shooting commercial headshots and portraits is the time element,” Rob says. “When you’re shooting regular portraiture, the customer likes to spend more time in front of the camera, but with corporate photography I only have my client for such a short period of time and, even then, they’re often still trying to organise meetings or respond to emails on their phone.”
A seemingly basic shot can make a lasting impression, and commercial headshots help businesses, freelancers or job-seekers differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. “Every shoot has its obstacles,” Rob says. “And with each commercial shoot it’s making sure my client is relaxed as they’re often not used to being photographed. A good headshot looks professional but approachable, so I spend a fair bit of time engaging with my client; asking them about their day or talking about something they’re interested in.”
For such a high-pressure, fast-paced environment, Rob needs to remain agile as he moves from client to client. Keeping his gear robust but lightweight, Rob travels with various Rotolight LEDs to illuminate his subjects. “I keep my setup simple, but even then, I spend more time setting up my shot than I have to shoot my subject,” Rob says. “I like to have that freedom of being able to rely on the battery power of my lights and not need to be bound by mains.”
As well as High Speed Sync flash capabilities, Rotolight’s range of LEDs offer a powerful continuous output. Enabling Rob to shoot exactly what he sees, continuous lighting has streamlined his workflow: “Rotolight’s continuous lighting meets all my needs. I can work quickly, and make any adjustments as needed,” says Rob. “I’m able to use my iPad to show my client the final shot because, using continuous lighting, they’re ready straight out of my camera.”
“I usually use three lights for my corporate photography,” Rob explains. “I have an Anova PRO 2 on a boom arm that acts as my key light because it’s the most powerful. The AEOS is then positioned on the ground using a floor stand to fill in the shadows on the face. The NEO 2 is then small enough to position behind the subject to illuminate the background and create some separation.”
“Lighting can easily change from client to client and shoot to shoot,” Rob concludes. “Just think! If I were using flash I would have to meter every job beforehand.”