Men’s style – photographing your Board

posted in: Style advice | 8

It’s the annual report time of year and it will easy to find pictures of your company’s Board – arrayed in dark business suits for the investor or customer to appraise. Getting six to 12 people to look like a team can be a challenge for the professional photographer hired for the occasion. It can be a bit of a minefield for him or her. How to deal with the hierarchy (CEO, and the others), how to deal with the height and weight differences, where to put the women – at the back (thereby minimising their contribution) or at the front and risk making them a token? Do you include furniture – the iconic board table or the comfy chair? Do they perch or a table, or knee down?  if you don’t have props you have a long single line and that is not good for publication. Here is random selection.

I work for the Notting Hill Housing Trust, where we are governed by a Board that consists of Non-Executive (people who have other jobs but spend a day or two a month governing the organisation) and Executive (the full-time, staff leadership team) members.  We too have to conform to the practice of including photographs on our website and in our annual report and accounts. It’s not a bad idea for customers and investors to be able to see who they are buying from or investing in.  So here is Notting Hill’s Executive Board photograph.

Six senior executives in business wear (one female)
The Executive Board of Notting Hill Housing

Taken by professional photographer Richard Townshend , it shows that we don’t all wear jeans at Notting Hill. To an extent we are all dressed up. We don’t all wear suits and ties everyday, but knowing we were going to have our picture taken, we all chose our most “professional” outfits.

Let me introduce the senior team, left to right,

  • Paul Phillips (looks after the money),
  • Andy Belton (looks after our commercial portfolio),
  • Mark Vaughan (looks after our social portfolio),
  • me (the boss!)
  • Andrew Muir (looks after the organisation),
  • John Hughes (builds new homes).

I was quite surprised to see this photograph. We are all around the same height, and of apparently medium build. And with four blue suits (one is nearly grey),  five white shirts and three red ties you might wonder why we are all dressed the same. In case you are interested we all have cool colouring, except Andrew who is light and warm. I know this as I work closely with them, not because any of them have had their colouring analysed! We are quite a “blokey” team.

Could this team look just as authoritative but also a little more individual?

  • Andrew is wearing grey, albeit a blue-grey, and his shirt is a little muted. He could wear a slightly lighter grey or blue suit if he wanted, and maybe try a more adventurous tie – a pattern, or more orangey, or a narrow vintage tie perhaps.
  • John is the “trendiest” on the team and his suit is really a nice shade of blue. He has chosen a strong blue-red for the tie which works really well. But as John suits deeper shades and I think he could have chosen a darker shade of the same blue for his shirt, and worn it without a tie. Or even worn a Liberty print shirt in deep colours (blue and brown for example).
  • Mark is wearing a black tie which I find odd as I associate a black tie with going to funerals. Mark could choose a deep tie in a more interesting colour – deep red or purple perhaps. As a younger man I think it would be fine to leave the tie off. I like to see the shirt cuff showing, and this looks good on Mark.
  • Andy looks smart in a grey blue suit with a subtle stripe. This is a very traditional, reassuring look and Andy has chosen the right scale of pattern in the suit and tie – fairly bold but not too big. Andy’s cool colouring can stand more contrast and brighter elements and the tie John has on , for example, or any bright colour, would be  a bit more interesting.
  • Paul has quite light colouring and might reflect this by wearing a lighter colour of tie – light cool yellow, pink or purple for example, silver cuff links and maybe silver framed glasses.

By making a few small changes the team could achieve a more differentiated look, and still appear as professional and capable as they most definitely are.

And me? I am wearing two self-drafted items. My VW-inspired jacket, and my curvy pencil skirt. I am wearing a Hobbs silk blouse that I got in the Shelter shop in Clitheroe, with a pink belt and blue shoes.

In the following photograph we are at our Annual October Awayday at Ashridge with our nine Non-Executive Directors. Here we are dressed in what you might describe as “smart casual” or possibly weekend wear. It looks like a composition in blues and browns.

Board of Notting Hill Housing 2013
The Board (with non Executives) at our last Awayday


8 Responses

  1. amaryllislog

    This is really interesting, more so the color study! I find it interesting that black tends to flatten and dark blue has a sense of depth. I do love your pop of blue (professional photo). Back in the day, my color theory teacher called that a zinger!

  2. fleurdecarotte

    I have to say I hate work wear! Today I was wearing black skinny trousers with a smart jacket and high heeled shoes, which to me was a summit of French elegance but was told to not wear them anymore! I do not think I can handle horrible M&S polyester work trousers nor a dull fully black outfit. Or the other side I saw someone wearing a bold print dress with black boots on bare legs… She looked less smart than me but it ticked the boxes!

  3. Stephanie

    You look like the boss! Awesome! 🙂 I clicked over to your pencil skirt link and I couldn’t believe how similar your skirt is in colour (and with the pockets) to the one I made up recently. Neat that you self-drafted both the skirt and the jacket. I could definitely take cues from your excellent combination of professional and individual.

    Fortunately no one ever takes photos of me. Phew! When I go to important meetings I usually put on a pale grey suit with a long pencil skirt as the bottom and then some kind of a different pin-striped blouse in a contrasting colour and interesting shoes. When I go to medium-important meetings or get pulled into meetings without advance warning, I can get away with more. I had an important (spontaneous) meeting on Monday and fortunately was wearing a muted purple short-sleeved sweater with a navy skirt – sufficiently presentable! 🙂 I’ve been thinking though about what you said the other day about dressing for the job you want to have, so I’m going to continue to try to “up” my game a bit, probably with more jackets which I hardly ever wear. Great post! (Oh and love your glasses in the more casual photo!)

  4. Joyce

    I am going to have some fun , commenting on the photography. I really don’t care for the first top left hand corner, those tea cups just make it all kind of silly. They are selling tradition, and thats about it. My biggest complaint, not a smile on one of them—– ekk if I had choices I’d stay clear of them!
    The next photograph, I like enough, except (and its easy to be critical of other people’s work)… is the male and female couples in the back row…because of the spacing they look like married couples, then then, we have additional couples that are men, so that just doesn’t work for me.
    The next is my favorite. Smiles, yippiee, and the composition is pretty darn good (however I don’t like the crooked cane in the middle and the hand behind him is distracting) but in general this is very impressive. Tradition, wise men, friendly , colourful ties, and they appear like they all work together nicely. I love the one. The photographer has really worked the location, and lucky for him those ties balanced out the one beige jacket. Well seen I’d say!
    I don’t really like the big and small in the next composition, and it appears they are shoveling the more mature man in the background. In fact that one man looks like a “cut and paste addition!
    The last is just terrible, won’t even go there. How boring.
    Really like your first group photograph, except for the cropping. Not good to be cut off at the knees, and it feels like the photographer perspective is coming from below. If he straight on I think it would be better, or from above (making your heads appear a slight bit bigger – smarter) You look fabulous in your blue, and non boring jacket. Love it! Nice natural smiles. I totally agree with your suggestions to dress up the boys a little differently.. maybe for the next one? ha ha
    I do like you last casual one. (maybe not the most creative, but good enough) Nice natural lighting always helps everyone. Again, with the cropping! Its not good to cut of people feet. Mr. Trendy has his eyes shut too, which is just kind of fun, and that helps with the story. You, look fabulous as always.
    ok, well, I”ve likely said enough, so I’ll end here for today.
    I don’t work in an office and I would likely have a total snit fit if someone told me I had worn something inappropriate to the office (and likely get fired….but that’s why I don’t work in an office………..I don’t think I could survive. haha.
    have a great day .

  5. Richard Townshend

    I used to be very involved in men’s fashion in the eighties and have kept my interest since, particularly as I photograph so many portraits. I think an individual look for a man is quite tricky to achieve without looking like they are trying too hard or dressing too young but good style should be quite attainable. Fortunately as you know there is a world of difference between dressing fashionably and dressing with style. Usually the best a businessman can do is wear a well cut suit (I agree about the cuffs) and the rest – shoes, tie, shirt, handkerchief etc are subtle details that won’t necessarily register immediately. For what it’s worth I thought the gentlemen of your exec board scored well on all counts 🙂

  6. Helen

    As an unusually young Chair, my lovely members commented that on our photo I looked liked their carer on an OAP day trip!!

Leave a Reply