Late last year I coordinated and organised my own photo shoot. For the seventh time since I started Styling You.
Sounds conceited and up myself, doesn’t it?
Here’s the thing. It’s not.
If you’re a business owner, a corporate employee often called on for expert opinion, a blogger, a writer … anyone with a professional web or social media presence, then you need professional images.
Having a set of current photos available at the ready to distribute to media, event organisers and for use on your own social media networks helps you to present an image of your business that is true to you and what you represent.
It’s something I’ve made a priority since I started my business so I thought I’d share my tips for professional business photos in case it’s something you’ve been putting off or are unsure of where to start.
1. Having a library of photos will increase your chances of being featured in print media. As someone who has been on the other side, having headshot and portrait images of yourself available to email on demand, could mean the difference as to whether you’re quoted in an article or not. The newspaper or magazine may not have the resources to send a photographer to take a photo. You’re making the journalist’s work task easier. It’s a win-win.
2. Update your photos every year. Yes, it might seem comforting to seemingly defy ageing by submitting your professional business photos from 1998 but, you know, fashions change and so do you. You should be recognisable and not have people looking twice at the photo in front of them and then back at you. If you’re photos are asked for and published a lot in a year, your personal brand can get a little over-exposed – another good reason for a freshen up.
3. Ask around for photographer recommendations within your budget. For these photos, I happened to meet photographer Sarah Keayes while working on this campaign. Sarah was taking the photos for the job. I liked the fast way she worked so I asked her to quote on updating my images. She works in newspapers as well as her freelance work so she knew exactly what I needed and was very easy and efficient to work with.
4. Don’t have a budget but have a professional camera? Get together another person with a professional camera and do each other’s photo shoot. This can be a great way to get the images you need while still building your business. This is a far better option than using and sharing business images that are of poor quality.
5. Headshots (head and shoulders) are the most commonly asked for images but having images that include backgrounds or props that show what it is you do are great to have on file as well. I was featured in a couple of magazines last year and those images helped illustrate the feature.
6. If suitable, have the images taken where you do your work. For me, that’s at home so it worked for Sarah to work with different corners of our living room (yes, prepare for furniture moving!), my wardrobe, on the verandah and utilising a mostly plain wall for head shots. Other photographers may work in a studio. This is fine but do ensure you have props available to create the lifestyle images that illustrate who you are and what you do.
7. The photos should look like you … only polished. My last set of professional photos were taken as part of the photo shoot for my book, Unlock Your Style. I don’t think I’ve ever been made to look so polished! They definitely served their purpose but I was keen for this year’s to better reflect how I look most days, well on a good day.
8. Coordinate and plan to have your hair and makeup looking the best it can be before the shoot. You’re investing time and money in the images, spending a couple of hours before doing your own hair and makeup – or calling in the professionals (always a good idea if you have the budget) – will be an investment in a more professional result. A professional makeup artist also knows how to create a makeup look specific for photography (for this shoot, I called in Megan Braunberger from Latonas – Megan did my “unmakeup” for this campaign and I loved what she did fixing me afterwards with an airbrush). Stick with a hair style and makeup look like you normally would wear. Yes, it will be more polished but not in an unrecognisable way.
9. Plan for three outfit changes. This variety of outfits will ensure a good mix of images. Block colours are ideal for busy backgrounds. I also included stripes even though some would say they are a no-no because stripes are something I’m often seen in so it felt appropriate. Don’t overly complicate the outfit but do include an interesting accessory or statement shoe if appropriate. I didn’t wear a jacket or blazer in these photos – I’ve found in the past that the photos have been too corporate-y for what I mostly do. They may be a good choice for you. Just ensure the jacket fits you well around the shoulders without making you look too boxy. Whatever you wear, you need to feel comfortable in it. With that comfort will come confidence in front of the camera.
10. Trust the photographer. They might get you to pose in seemingly strange ways but they are only doing so because it better frames you in the image. Once you’ve specified what types of photos you need, hand over the creative control to the creative in charge – the photographer.
11. Ask to be supplied with high-res and low-res versions of the best images. Print media will want large, high-res images; smaller, low-res are for use in digital/web-based applications.
12. Create a folder on your computer and in a cloud-based app and store your images there. I have mine copied into a folder in Dropbox so that no matter what device I’m on, if I have a request for an image, I can quickly and easily email or message it.
13. Replace all your old avatars (web-based social media images) with the new ones. This keeps your branding consistent across all networks and helps people better connect with you as they’ll easily recognise that it’s you.
So over to you … do you need professional images for your work? Had fresh ones taken recently? What tips can you share for others.