I used to get so nervous and sweaty photographing high-level executives on their home turf. Now, I just get sweaty.
During a shoot the subject depends on me to make them look their best. In this situation, I’m the expert. Top-level CEO or not, they need me to call the shots. This, to me, means moving furniture, lightening the mood and taking the reigns.
“Remember,” photographer Arnold Newman famously said, “photography is 1% talent and 99% moving furniture.” I never did the math on that statement, but I certainly have moved a lot of furniture (hence the sweat). It’s part of creating a great image. I take books off of bookshelves, pull couches away from walls, reposition lamps, and clear off desks. This is usually happening right in front of my subject. I’m looking to remove distracting elements and frame the subject.
Lightening the mood typically starts with the furniture moving. I’ll say, “I’m going to take apart your office today,” or “I hope you remember where all this stuff goes.” I know this is a break from the norm for them, so I acknowledge the absurdity. I’ll probably make fun of myself for working up a sweat so soon. I’m usually having to dismiss claims of being un-photogenic with a smile. We’re going to get through this and you’re going to do great.
Taking the reigns simply means that I’m giving this super-busy man or woman a mini-vacation from their day-to-day. It’s more for me than for them. I try to remember to take my time and do the work. The shoot is important and they’re not going to regret the few minutes they spent with me.