Selling headshots from the back of a rusty white van isn’t the most glamorous job in showbusiness but for photographer Doren Gabriel it was the start of a career which would see him go onto picture some of our best known faces. He launched mobile headshot business image 1st in 2002 offering corporate style portraits for just £20 a pop on the streets of the City of London. He later developed the business into entertainment photography and, after opening his own luxury studio in London’s Farringdon in 2006, went on to shoot celebrities including boyband JLS, reality TV star Louie Spence and the Strictly Come Dancing cast.

Selling headshots from the back of a rusty white van isn’t the most glamorous job in showbusiness but for photographer Doren Gabriel it was the start of a career which would see him go onto picture some of our best known faces.

He launched mobile headshot business image 1st in 2002 offering corporate style portraits for just £20 a pop on the streets of the City of London. He later developed the business into entertainment photography and, after opening his own luxury studio in London’s Farringdon in 2006, went on to shoot celebrities including boyband JLS, reality TV star Louie Spence and the Strictly Come Dancing cast.He also offered makeovers and portrait photography sessions and by 2009 he was able to open a second studio in Miami and take on a further six staff – making a total of 12.

The recession saw a slight drop in demand for portraits and “feel good” photography. However, as websites such as LinkedIn emerged, this was balanced by a huge increase in demand for corporate style headshots.

Doren launched new brand DG-Corporate.co.uk to cater for this market and it now accounts for around 80 percent of group turnover – which is expected to come in at around the million pound mark in 2011.

Doren firmly believes a perfect business headshot can help generate new business, build relationships and even help you gain a promotion.

His firm has already worked with a variety of high profile organisations including Gallup and The Cherie Blair Foundation and Doren says returning to the business market has proven the correct decision.

He explains: “I’d always enjoyed the corporate shoots and after the recession hit and the entertainment work dried up I decided it was the perfect time to go back to where I’d first started all those years ago.

“What started out as a ways to make a bit of pocket money out the back of a van has grown into a serious business thanks to the demand for headshots created by websites like LinkedIn.

“Jobseekers are now posting their CVs online and need a professional headshot to get themselves noticed. It’s good news for us.

“It’s hard to be unique in photography and when people ask what sets our pictures apart from another firm I tell them it’s the same as what sets Frank Sinatra apart from Robbie Williams. Both are singers but one is a legend and one is just ok, it’s all about how much panache you deliver the goods with.

“We’re able to visit a company’s premises or for them to come to our studio, which means no job is

Before I launched the firm I realised just how important social media was becoming and just how useful it was to have a great image to accompany your online profile...
too large of too small for us to take on. We’ve done shots for one man bands right through to huge multinationals and our rates vary from as little as £125 for a single headshot to £10,000 for a full day snapping a large corporate team.”

He says a rise in the influence of social media sites such as Facebook was one of the biggest factors behind the decision to return to corporate photography.

Doren, 35, says: “Before I launched the firm I realised just how important social media was becoming and just how useful it was to have a great image to accompany your online profile.

“Many people now meet solely through the internet and we believe a strong and clear image is essential for any business. People trust people and if you don’t have an image which conveys this then how can you expect anyone to do business with you?

“We’ve had several clients say that thanks to a new headshot they’ve been able to win new business, even get promotions, which is great to hear. One of our clients even said since they changed the headshot images on their homepage new business has increased by 78%, which is fantastic.”

He concludes: “The corporate market is massive and in the next few years our view really is that the sky is the limit. We hope to break the million pound barrier next year which is a long way away from taking £20 headshots in the back of a cold, rusty old van.”