For years we shot these headshots on location in and around London and were open to whatever the weather would hold in store for us and the unfortunate client.
We now offer a service where we have a large collection of London cityscapes and we can drop them in behind your corporate headshot. This means we can eliminate the worry of the weather and dragging clients around London. We can shoot your headshot in our studio space or at your office. This adds the benefit of studio lighting, and with clever balancing, your headshot can look natural, professional, and interesting.
Corporate Headshot with London: St. Paul's Cityscape
Background added with Photoshop. Make sure you blur the background image so it looks like it was shot on a long lens.
Corporate Headshot with London: The Gherkin Cityscape
Careful to balance the light levels so the person appears to be in their office or boardroom with the background a little lighter.
Origins of This Process
For many years we had been shooting the headshots with a London backdrop on site. Clients often wanted to be associated with where they worked, and having the London cityscape behind their LinkedIn or company website photo was a perfect way to do this.
This was interesting work for our photographers, but often we had to postpone or cancel the shoot due to bad weather which, in London, is very frequent. Our favoured area to shoot was looking back to the city from the view on the south of the Thames. This gave us a good background using St. Paul's or the city skyline. This is a public area, so no legal problems taking photos there, but also, this is a very popular area for tourism, which made it sometimes unsettling for the sitter.
It was one commission in particular that gave us the need to add a London backdrop. This case was a guy who wanted to show he was in London but did not want the shot to look too touristy. He asked us to make the background very blurry, ie; out of focus, which was something we often did, but he insisted he wanted it very blurred. On looking at the results, we thought that they were, in fact, too blurred, and that the background was now not identified as London. We sent him the shots and he agreed and asked if we could resolve this for him. He was traveling abroad for a month and unable to reshoot, but needed the headshot for his presentation.
We revisited the London location and shot the background less out of focus, at the standard we would have originally planned.
It was now my job to lift the old headshot off the poor background and drop it onto the new one. For many years I had been doing this process in Photoshop, but normally from a studio shot on a white background, but this was going to be harder, as making the cut out look 100 percent natural was critical, otherwise the whole process would be flawed. After spending many hours on YouTube looking at different workflows, I put a request on linkedIn asking if any photographers had any suggestions. One of the guys I had worked with for several shoots came up with a process we now still use, and it allows you to feather the edge of the cut out, which gives the headshot a near perfect clipping path.
Now, when a commission comes in for a London headshot background, we always suggest the cut out process. We have a large library of pre-shot London cityscapes which we allow the client to choose from. We often blur these in Photoshop to attain the perfect match with the headshot. This does take extra time per commission with the added post-production, but the benefits to the client are massive and, at the end of the day, it's all about giving clients what they require.
Photoshop Cut Out Sample
This last image is a great example of the cut out process. Look at the hair and how it looks against the sky.