Magazine Article


Taking Care of Business
Robert Houser puts a new twist on corporate portraiture with his "traveling conversations"

Robert Houser

Robert Houser

Robert Houser

Robert Houser

Robert Houser

"Then they wanted to shoot at 3:30 instead of 5:00, even though my makeup artist was still two hours away. So I powdered everyone up myself and ate the cost of the makeup artist.

"Then, right when I had figured out the symmetry of the shot with 12 people (plus one missing person I was planning on splicing in later), a 13th person showed up at the shoot. But in business, especially in the corporate world, they just want to hear you say you'll take care of it. If you just keep saying everything will be fine and figure out a way around it, then the next year, when they're reshooting the annual report, they'll call back the guy who made everyone happy."

Getting Down to Business

To market his work, Houser ditched low-end postcard campaigns and put more time into nicer print efforts and the online arena. "If I mail something, I want it to be an expensive, nice mailer," he says. "But I also decided to try Web-only marketing for a year. I'm trying to use,, Photoserve, and one or two others, and see how that goes for a year."

Houser sends targeted email campaigns monthly. "I had done a couple of email campaigns in the past and sent them out to thousands of people," he says. "I think all that did was put me on blacklists! Now I go after past clients and just remind them I exist. Every time I get a shoot, I keep the PR person's email. If I have to do head shots for them after they get an email from me six months later, it's perfect."

A blog has also recently popped up on Houser's website. "I wanted an arena online where I could regularly show new work," he says. "I didn't want to be changing my website every day, but I want people to see my new images. Blogging is a good medium for that."

Houser also keeps busy as a co-founder of both Editorial Photographers and bigshotstock (visit for details). He also has embraced what he used to consider the drudgery of the corporate portraiture world: head shots.

"I thought it was mainly uncreative work until I had a client for whom I had to shoot nearly 90 head shots in two days. That meant doing head shots in five-minute intervals. The people I shot were from all walks of life and different countries. While the assignment wasn't creatively stimulating, it gave me good practice getting subjects comfortable quickly."

Once he saw the benefit of the shoot, it didn't seem like drudgery anymore.

"It's like stretching-I don't love sitting down and doing Pilates in the evening," he says. "I'd rather have a beer. But in the end, it's exercising some part of me that will only help me later on. No matter how challenging a job seems, just figure out what it will do for you."