joy marsden

Professional speaker portraits

12th March 2016


Here are a few of the photographs that I took during and after your speakers meeting on 12th March 2016. I hope you like them. I also wanted to explain how much thought went into them. A good speaker will know that a word in itself communicates very little. It is the context, accompanying gestures, the tone of voice and facial expressions that paint a more comprehensive story. The same goes for a portrait photograph. How you sit, your body language, the expression of your face and even the background say something about who you are. It is sending message to a possible client.


When I took the portraits I had all of the above in mind. When I photographed Robert, I talked him through how I would like him to pose. He said to me, “This feels really unnatural.”
“It will”, I replied, “but it will look great!”
I wanted him to lean slightly forward towards the camera. The same way you would lean into a person with whom you were having a conversation with in busy bar. It shows you are listening, they have your full attention and you are interested in them. The result is below.

Robert McPhun

If he were leaning back it would communicate the exact opposite. Shooting from slightly above made him look approachable and friendly. Any higher and he would look submissive. Shooting at eye level will portray equality.

Subtleties and details

If you look at the eyes, you will see a white area known as 'catch light'. These are the reflection of the light source/s and they add life to the eyes. If you removed them they will look less attractive and the viewer will not be drawn to them as much. Using studio lights ensures the presence of 'catch lights'.


You can see the catch lights in one to three o'clock position in Eva's eyes. This shot captures what is known as a three quarter profile so you can see flow of the shape of her face along right side of the photograph. It also makes the face look narrower.

Even the background says something. I am sure you have seen the bright white backgrounds that appear in some portrait photographs. This is fine for your passport and we all know how much we hate how we look in those. So why use it in your professional portrait? OK, there are no distractions and it is simple. But for me it is too sterile and unimaginative. I would rather have something there to break up monotony. A change in brightness is another option, a slash of light down background or even a splash of colour.

Derek Cheshire

There is nothing in the background that causes a distraction, but neither is it completely uniform. Who would not employ this man to be your motivational speaker?

Lee Jackson

Lee Jackson plugging one of his books in a studio shoot. It has completely different look and feel to the ones taken on site. There is a splash of light on the left side of his face as you look at the photo to lift it from the background. The background itself is not uniform with a gradual fade from left to right.

What I also hoped to achieve were portraits that had a natural look and effortlessness about them as if they were shot without any extra lighting. For those of you who saw my set up, I used quite a bit of kit to achieve that feel.

Pauline Tomlin

This shot looks very natural, but I am using a huge light modifier and two reflectors to bounce light back into the from the left and bottom of the photograph.

Catherine Kelsey

Again, very natural looking and there is no glare or reflection from the Catherine's glasses. Her eyes and shoulders are not horizontal. Her head is tilted towards her left shoulder to avoid parallel lines and create an extended triangle instead.

Mary Homes

Once again no glare or flash flare in the lens of the glasses, but you can see the catch lights in Mary's eyes. I had to perform a bit of post editing magic to remove a bra strap that photo bombed the shot.


I hope this short explanation show you how much thought goes into taking a portrait for a professional. That is even before I start on post processing. That is another story…. I will say I do quite a bit to add a little sparkle to the eyes and life to the hair. I do not post process my photographs to an inch of their lives. I hope you agree, they do not look like a lot of work has been performed on them, but there has been.

I can achieve a number of looks depending on your preference and requirements. Anything from head shots to full body portraits are available. Studio or out and about.

Joy Marsden

Joy wanted a slightly different look with her hand in the shot. Hands close the to face can cause a distraction because of the size of your hand compared to your face. By curling it into a backwards question mark shape, it looks small and does not overwhelm the photograph.

Your thoughts

Now that you have an idea of how much thought goes into one photograph. If you wish to book a shoot drop me a line and we will make arrangements.

Please leave any thoughts, comments, questions or just say, "Hi!" (not literally) below. I really do appreciate feedback especially if you one of the performers. E.g. What is your favourite photograph and why?

Your thoughts


Please leave any thoughts, comments, questions or just say, "Hi!" (not literally) below. I really do appreciate feedback. E.g. What is your favourite photograph and why?

A few more photos on Facebook.

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