Most investment firms showcase their portfolio with big financial wins. Some amplify their CEOs and founders with podcasts, press releases, and blog posts. But very few take the initiative to profile their portfolio leaders with photography.
Decisions about photography are usually driven by the practical constraints of time: busy CEOs, packed schedules, and a certain timidity around asking. Although, with a little planning and creative strategy, it’s possible to showcase your leaders without relying on the same old corporate headshots.
Plan from Your Core Principles
Kamini Ramani, VP of Marketing at Mayfield in Menlo Park, wanted case studies on their key investments to really stand out. When she hired Albertson Design to overhaul how these would be packaged for web and social, we built our strategy around their motto of people-first investing. By focusing on the person, rather than the product, we were able to make a study in character that reinforces Mayfield’s unique view of the people they back.
Hire The Right People-Oriented Photographer
Our first choice to take on this assignment was Marla Aufmuth, a corporate portraits and lifestyle photographer with decades of experience, and a deep history of collaboration. We knew she could get us the look we wanted, and had a strong opinion on how to get it. “I wanted to create an eye-catching photograph that would differentiate Mayfield; sculptural yet intimate, larger than life, yet accessible.”
To make everyone comfortable, we decided to shoot in Mayfield’s conference room rather than in Marla’s studio; a compromise that presented us with a tightly confined space, but presented practical solutions. There’s a lot to be said about the subtleties that make CEOs feel comfortable.
As Marla says, “We wanted the hands and face in focus, so I had to get creative with lighting. I was either sitting or lying on the floor working with the subject in various poses to capture the moment.”
Styling choices were also extremely practical. “People are most comfortable in their own clothes, so I ask that they bring at least three options.” Regarding hair and makeup, it’s essential, but can be kept “very minimal”: “That tiny bit of powder always adds an extra oomph to the final photograph.”
A Unique Image Supports Your Vision
The work isn’t done once the shoot is over. After capturing various poses, expressions and maybe even a wardrobe change or two, selecting the final photograph requires a good eye. For Mayfield, which has been around for half a century, we wanted a classic magazine look, like you might see in Fortune, Forbes, or Fast Company. Marla harkened back to her pre-digital days: “Kodak Tri-X was my film of choice and that’s the grain structure I applied to the portraits digitally. Black and white photography is timeless and everyone looks great.”
The resulting series of portraits function as a brand campaign for the firm, emphasizing their people-centric philosophy, and giving them an edge on claiming their stake in this territory. A lot of investors might say that it’s all about choosing the right leader; this series of photos literally shows you that Mayfield turns a curatorial eye on their portfolio.
To see more of Marla’s work, visit her website here.