Tag Archives: portrait

Kingston Chamber of Commerce New Board Members – Portrait Photography

Portrait photographs of the new members of the board, Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Elected at the annual general meeting, it’s an awesome weight of responsibility, but they held up well, at least for their first day!

Customer Facing Staff Need Good Portrait Photos

Motive8 Ltd understand the importance of presenting customer-facing staff in the best possible way, so they value good portrait photos. They’re a global organization, and established market leaders in the design & installation of residential and corporate health and fitness facilities. M8 have management contracts for many of the facilities they install, and every few months I get a call to photograph the latest set of recruits. I can always look forward to M8 shoots, the people are always lively and bright. As they’re also young fitness fanatics, that they’re usually beautiful as well, but of course that has no bearing on my enthusiasm!

How About Us? Staff Pictures on the Company Website

Getting a job is a little like being adopted. You enter someone else’s family with it’s different ways of doing things, different look and sounds, different smells. As time passes the strangeness fades until one day, almost without noticing you become one the gang, an insider, part of this no-longer-new family.

That’s why it’s so interesting to go into a company to shoot profile portraits of the staff. You’re never anything other than an outsider, but an outsider with a mandate to stare at each person and disrupt the routine. As a pebble tossed into an otherwise still pond, it’s fascinating to watch the ripples pass through the private world of the office.

While many quite enjoy the break in routine and an excuse to get away their desk, others just hate having their picture taken. I move each person on quickly after capturing a quick impression of them. It’s not really a portrait, but something to show to clients and customers to enable the process of engagement to begin, even before they’ve spoken to or met anyone. It reassures them them see that none one in the company has two heads.

My commission to photograph the staff at Receipt Bank on Fleet Street was a tribute to the power of networking. The call from Nelson came some four years after we’d attended the same group for about six months. I’m pleased to report that the staff of Receipt Bank have only one head each.

Corporate and profile portraits

Your Child is Leaving Home – Last of the Family Portraits?

Can there be a happier day in any man’s life than the one when his daughter’s born? Well, perhaps the one when she left home for University!

It was a sunny, Sussex, Sunday afternoon the day we took our eldest to begin her degree. Luggage-loaded cars jostling in the car park, everywhere families helping move bags of clothes, boxes of food, TV’s, loudspeakers and guitars as their 18 year-olds, buoyed with excitement and promise find their places in their Uni hall. A happy, happy day – the result of, and reward for hard work.

A few weeks before I’d set up my camera on a tripod to shoot a portrait of our family. It was someone’s birthday and we’d been to a restaurant for dinner. We got home at about 11pm a little the worse for wear. I wanted to get a picture after the style of a Vermeer painting, luckily I’d set up before we went out!

Five years on, it’s a lovely memory of a phase in our family life that was about to end – when we were still the parents of two children, unaware that we were about to become the parents of one child and a fantastic, independent, young adult. Best of all, who seemed to have decided she quite, liked us.

Trevor's family portrait photography Richmond Surrey London


Message or call me on 020 8977 2529 and let’s capture an image like of your family like these!

How to take a good portrait photograph

(This is based on a talk I’ve delivered to number of groups in southwest London. I took the pictures while doing the talk.)

On holiday or at a special event like a birthday party or wedding most of us are willing to have our photo taken – it seems appropriate because it’s special. Pull out a camera on an ordinary day and you’ll often be met with a wave of complaints, ‘I haven’t washed my hair’ ‘I’m too tired to smile’ ‘I’ve got a spot’! Mostly it never even occurs to me to take pictures of ordinary scenes on an ordinary day, but I’m determined to more.  I think it’s the portrait photographs taken, or just ‘snapped’ at home on that wet Sunday afternoon in October that in years to come may become some of the most treasured.

how to take good portrait - photographer Teddington Richmond London

Using the camera’s flash has made this image quite flat.

A good time for an arm-lock

It might take bribery or perhaps a threat, but you just have to take control. Make them do it and make them move, they’ll forgive you. Work out where you want to take the picture and if necessary move the furniture and open the curtains. Natural light makes the best portraits; a north-facing window can give a lovely, soft but directional light. With the subject placed side-on to the window the shape and form of their face will be nicely modelled without casting any harsh shadows. Consider getting someone to hold up a piece of white card to act as a reflector if the shadows are too strong.


So don’t get too flashy

advice on how to take good portrait - photographer Teddington Richmond London

bouncing the flash off the ceiling has softened the light but produced a big shadow under the nose

Keep it simple is good advice; don’t use a flash unless you want that hard flat light for aesthetic reasons. Many cameras have a ‘scene’ mode and ‘portrait is always one of them. This will tell the camera to automatically select settings that are more likely to produce a good picture. A narrow depth of field helps reduce distractions from the background. You need a large aperture or low ‘f ‘ number. Move back from the subject and zoom in. Using a wide-angle lens can give them a big nose. If they actually have a big nose no amount of zooming will remove it, unfortunately.

want to know how to take good portrait? Advice from the photographer in Teddington, Richmond, London

soft light from the window gives a much nicer, more characterful picture

Trevor Aston works in Richmond, Southwest London and Surrey as a portrait, event and editorial photographer.

How to dress for a profile portrait


you never know what ideas the photographer might come up with!

Apparently, we live in a free society. This must mean that the way we behave is really nothing to do with anyone else – so long as we hurt no-one. Part of our freedom of expression must be the freedom to offend – there is no such thing as the right to be unoffended. Luckily most of us exercise the right to express opinions that might offend with great restraint. Especially if we want something from the person who might be offended, especially if it’s something like business.

OK, so a website profile picture is unlikely to give any real offense, but sometimes people choose to take umbrage at the slightest thing, such as not conforming to their expectation of what you should look like. There is no ‘uniform’ for a photographer, I’ll wear a DJ to a black tie event of course, but if I turned up to a corporate portrait shoot dressed like a penguin they might think I was a singing telegram. So what should I wear in my profile picture to make people feel that I’m really just like them and they really ought to like me?

Well since I don’t actually know who ‘they’ are, let alone what they’re like the best I can hope to do is to avoid demonstrating that I’m definitely NOT like them!

I have to make sure there’s nothing about the image I project that someone can dislike. Unfortunately this means always playing it safe. Of course we should never ‘judge a book by the cover’ but the way we look does say a lot about us, whether we like it or not. If someone doesn’t care what they look like, they surely don’t really care what I think of them. If they don’t care what I think, then I might assume they don’t care about me. Why would I do business with someone who doesn’t care about me?

For a photographer, playing it safe means being smart enough, but not too formal. I’ve seen photographers wearing a tea-shirt or fleece embroidered with their logo, and they look good. It’s the sort of thing gas fitters and plumbers wear, but I don’t sell my craft skills. It’s how and what I photograph that I sell, not the act of photographing.

Of course the clothes to wear in a business portrait depend on the business. What do clients or customers expect and more importantly, what would put them off? It’s not always easy to see things from the perspective of the other person, but it’s important to try in order to define what a potential client expects to see. Then you can open your wardrobe to see what fits the brief, and hope that it still fits you!

You should always be the centre of attention in your profile photograph so choose clothes that won’t distract from you.  The clothes should flatter without being noticed. Solid, subdued colours work well. Longer sleeves look better then short, unostentatious jewellery is better than bling.
Have a think about those piercings. While you have every right to wear as many piercings as you wish, just remember that other people have an equal right to their opinion of tongue studs and people who choose to wear them.

There’s no doubt that it’s harder for women to hit the right sartorial note than it is for men. Women have a greater range of possibilities so it’s easier to get it wrong. Men tend to be less aware of being judged or just don’t care. It’s harder for a man in a suit-wearing profession to express themselves through the clothes they ware, the point is that the business photo is the place to create a good impression, not a platform for self-expression.

Dressing properly and dressing well can make you feel a bit special and a bit more confident in front of the camera, and that confidence can make the biggest difference to the impression the picture makes.

Blogs with some more sensible advice



Trevor Aston works in Southwest London and Surrey photographing portraits, PR, events, editorial 

Find the right photographer and you’ll look good forever


All you have to do to look great in a photo is to be relaxed in front of the camera. Simple!

profile portrait photograph Teddington Richmond Surrey London

No tie, casual shirt, unshaved. But doesn’t he look good?

There’s no real secret to getting a good picture of yourself. Just choose a photographer with a feeling for, and understanding of you. Then you can look good forever. Simple.

Almost no one likes having their picture taken, many people really hate it. But like a condemned man ordering his last meal, most people just resign themselves to it. They tell themselves, ‘It’s got to be done. I’m going to feel uncomfortable with the camera’s beady stare fixed on me, but it’s a necessity of modern life.’ As the book says, ‘feel the pain, and do it anyway’.

a good working portrait

looking away from the camera can make a portrait spear less formal

looking good in a profile portrait

some people just look good in front of the camera!

Nicola Hill of NC Media believes people should just get on with it. “After years of standing in front a TV camera I know there’s no flaw in me that a lens hasn’t found already.” Nicola was a reporter for Sky News before she set up her own business. “But I know how to look my best on camera. My advice is too make an effort in choosing your photographer, find someone you feel you can trust.”

Since most photographers spend time and money making themselves visible online, it’s never been easier to find one and see what they do. So here’s the first step towards getting a good photograph of you; get searching photographers’ websites and look for portraits that you wish were of you. You can’t look your best if you think the photographer’s a bit creepy, and many are. So the next stage is to work out whether you’re going to like the person you’re about to licence to gaze at you. Recommendations from people you respect are priceless, do you know anyone who has recently had new pictures taken? Web designers love good photographers, good photos make their job easier. Check out business networking groups and professional associations for their recommendations.

a great smile is always a winner in a good profile portrait photograph

a great smile is always a winner in a good profile portrait photograph

women sitting at a pieno

your photographer should understand what’s important to you

An optional stage before calling them could be to send an email and see how long it takes for them to reply. What’s the tone of the reply, is it spelled correctly? I’m not suggesting that all creepy people have bad grammar, but if they can’t be bothered to run a spell check over an email, will they bother to polish the post-production on your picture?

Compile a short-list and ring them all, it’s unlikely to be a long list. Anyone who immediately tells you how good they are should be crossed off your list. They should take the time to find out about you and what you want. Ideally they’ll offer some suggestions about their approach. Tell them what you want to do with the images and what you don’t like about your appearence. Their response will betray how well they listened to you, and that should tell you if you want to work with them.

Here’s a blog to help you choose a style for your portrait.
Here’s a blog about judging a photographer‘s work.

Make-Up for Your Portrait Shoot

It’s surprising how often people don’t make any special effort with their appearance before a photo shoot.

But most of those people are men. Most women realise that make-up for your portrait shoot is worth the trouble….

profile portrait photograph

even when you’re beautiful, it’s worth paying a little extra attention to your make-up

Writer and broadcaster Vanessa Feltz once asked me what I thought about the colour of her eye shadow. The make-up artist had just stepped away. I didn’t think anything, I had no opinions on any aspect of eye shadow or make-up in general but because I was directing this BBC film shoot I had to express opinions on this and anything else I was asked. “Well I think you look great Vanessa, but I can see why you’re questioning it.” I was playing for time, then the make-up artist returned and Vanessa asked what other colours she had. I helped choose by not saying much.
Having photographed hundreds of people I do now have opinions on make up, simply because my job as a photographer is much harder if the make up is wrong. I know how my lighting works with the flesh tones and face shapes as they’re hidden or exaggerated by make up. I’ve garnered my knowledge by being flattering.  It’s helps distract people so they forget about the camera.  I say how good they look and ask if they’ve used much make up, because I really can’t tell! So here are some of the general thoughts and  some specific bits of advice.

profile portrait photography

a portrait photography session is special occasion, why wouldn’t you make a special effort?

  1. Do make a special effort with your make-up for your photo shoot: it’s a special occasion.
  2. If you can get professional help; do. Otherwise do it yourself because you know what works on you.
  3. Look like you, don’t try anything knew but be the best you possible.
  4. Be restrained.
  5. Choose a foundation as close to your skin colour as you can find.
  6. Don’t use mineral-based cosmetics because the camera sees them as shiny.
  7. Line both top and bottom eyelids.
  8. Use mascara.
  9. Avoid shiny eye shadow.
  10. Putting lip stain under the lip-gloss will be more stable and is less likely to need touching up
  11. Avoid very glossy lips; less can be more in a photograph
  12. Use a hair spray with glue-like properties.
  13. Take a brush or comb to the shoot.
good profile portrait photographs

let your natural loveliness shine through by using make-up, but sparingly!

It’s hard to look your best in photographs if you’re not feeling good about yourself so it’s worth doing your best to look your best. Of course there’s more to feeling good than slapping on a bit of lippie, but it’s a good start!

Trevor Aston works in Southwest London and Surrey photographing portraits, PR, events, food and products, editorial, architectural and interiors

A Perfect Family Portrait

You Don’t Need A Perfect Family For A Perfect Family Portrait

Any idea how many pictures you have on your computer? How about on your phone? How often do you look at them? Most of us have hundreds of photographs of our family, but not that many can qualify as a proper portrait.
It’s great to snap away while your kids are small; once mine got bigger they stopped being quite so co-operative. Now I tell myself that one day I’ll sort through the folders and folders of photos lurking in every corner and crevice of my computer’s hard-drives. If not during the long winter nights then I’ll do it when I retire. Of course going through old pictures of your family is a sheer delight, a luxuriant bathe in nostalgia. “Oh look at this picture.” I’ll say to my daughter. “That’s a picture of you when you were nice.” And she’ll reply; “You should remember who’ll be choosing your nursing home in a few years!” If we take enough, we’re bound to get some good pictures. But just occasionally it’s worth investing a little more time to get a really special portrait of your family. It can be a lovely present for grandparents. For Mother’s Day or Father’s day a portrait of the children with your in-laws can make great presents for your partner. They’ll all love it, they have to!
So how to get that special picture? Firstly, get everyone’s co-operation. Bribery, blackmail and coercion are the most useful tools. Plan it for some time ahead so no one has to change a plan they’ve made to go to the skate-park or out with a boyfriend. Remind everyone of how much the picture will be appreciated by the receiver. Think carefully about where and when to stage the portrait. It should be done in the day to take advantage of natural light; it’s free, convenient and very bright. Although direct sunlight will look horrible with strong contrast and shadows, positioning people in or near a north or east facing window will give a wonderfully soft light that still shows the shapes and textures. Do include things like photographs of late relatives, souvenirs from holidays, tools of a trade, odd bits of sports or hobby equipment or anything that
represents your lives. These are the touches that will make the picture much more meaningful and poignant as the years pass.
You’ll need a camera with a shutter time delay or a remote control. A tripod is useful but you can balance the camera on a chair, table or even a stepladder. You could set up the shot and then get your daughter’s boyfriend to press the button; it’ll give him something to do!
This is a contrived image, but the more candid the shot looks the better. Keep everyone in position for as long as possible; as they get bored they’ll stop posing for the camera, then as conversations start and niggles begin to reveal themselves you’ll get shots that look much more natural. The portrait will show everyone interacting with each other and being a family. Of course small children won’t keep still for very long, so best to just let them move around, they’ll add some spontaneity and help distract from the camera. You can overcome some of the awkwardness by getting everyone to play the family’s favourite board game. The important thing is to keep shooting so you’ve got lots of shots to choose from, and save the bad shots for blackmail next time!

Trevor Aston works in Southwest London and Surrey photographing portraits, PR, events, food and products, editorial, architectural and interiors