Why having a professional photo is good for your blog

Nikki Parkinson Life 50 Comments

Most of you know that I was a journalist before I became a blogger and a business person.

I was used to having my photo taken. My headshot appeared every week in the magazine I was editing – and it was updated pretty regularly … as I, umm, *updated*.

As an editor I was also regularly asking people featured in stories in the magazine if they could supply images of themselves. Professional, high-res images that were of magazine standard for publishing.

Not a “selfy” on a camera phone. (Actually, people weren’t doing selfies back then because 1) phones didn’t have cameras and 2) gen Y were too young for Facebook 😉 )

What I’d often get sent was a happy snap that was out of focus, pixelised and unsuitable for publication.

Those images were also showing off that person’s brand (personal and business) in the worst possible light.

So, when I started my business – and this blog – in 2008, getting professional photos was high up on my list of priorities. And I’ve updated them every year since.

Why you need a professional photo:

1. Your blog is your brand.  Show that brand in the best possible light.  And be consistent with how you show that brand.  You don’t have to have all your photos matching across your social media channels but they should be consistent with the blogging brand you’re putting out to the world.

2. Media and online websites may ask for your photo if they are profiling your blog or your blog’s niche and want to include you in that. If you have a professional image available that sums up your brand and you can email it immediately, you have more chance of being included in that story or post if your image is publication ready.  Yes, media will sometimes want to take their own photos for a story but more often than not (and this especially applies to smaller publications) they don’t have a budget for it.

This year, I’ve been inundated with requests. If you check out my media coverage page, you’ll see just how many times I’ve been asked for photos. Luckily the photo shoot I had this year featured two different outfits and quite a number of different lifestyle shots as well as my head shot, so I’ve been able to vary what I’ve submitted. Looking at this page also demonstrates that I need to have new photos done soon as these ones are already over-exposed. Keeping it fresh, keeps your brand fresh and dynamic.

What makes a good photo of a blogger:

1. A good photo should show the real you but a little bit more polished. Don’t worry, we’re not talking soft-focus, glamour photo here. We’re talking a little bit of prep work on the hair and makeup plus some thought as to what you want to wear. Because I’m a style blogger, I also pay to have my hair and makeup done before my shoot.

2. A professional photo will also be shot in the most forgiving lighting conditions – whether it’s an outdoor, indoor or studio shot. Trust me, this is worth every cent.

3. Make sure that apart from the standard headshot, that you get a photo that links you to your blogging niche or your work as a blogger. For example, I had some taken with my iPad as well as in a friend’s walk-in wardrobe (a wardrobe that was a way better back drop than my own … she only owns black, red and white clothes so it was nicely colour coded for me!).

4. We want to see your personality – because that’s what readers want to connect with. Choose a photographer that respects that and knows how to best bring out that personality.

Things you need to keep in mind:

1. When you’re searching for a photographer, ask around for recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of their work to see if their photography style is a good match for your blog and your personality.

2. Ask about copyright. Ideally, the photos you purchase are copyright and watermark free. You want to be able to supply them to media so they can be freely used. Photographers will either include the copyright license with their fee or as an add on.

3. The cost will depend on the photographer’s level of experience, what they will offer you, how many images and time for the shoot. Expect to pay between $300-$650 for a professional shoot that includes multiple images supplied to you copyright free.

Do you have professional photos of yourself for your blog and/or your business? What tips do you have for others looking to get some done?

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Comments 50

  1. I agree completely, professional photos are a must! I don’t usually like my photo taken all, but I consent to it for my website and publications. Thank you for your insightful look at professional photos, Vanessa

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      No problems, Vanessa … and yes, I totally get how having a photo taken is not something that most people like – it is much better when you find a photographer that really fits your personality and knows how to bring out the best in you.

  2. Thanks for the reminder Nikki. Yes this too is on my to-do list. You always look great in your photos. I do believe it is quite important as your business grows to have professional shots.
    I look forward to sharing when I get mine done.
    Have an awesome week.
    Dee 🙂

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      Do it, Annabel. The photographer who did my photos this year lives up your way. Can send details if you’d like? And that fabulous wardrobe belongs to my fabulous friend, Min Swan, who owns and runs White House Celebrations, the amazing event company behind some of the best events on the Sunshine Coast and beyond. She’s no longer in that apartment but her wardrobe is still the same. Her business branding is black and she lives and breathes her brand, adding in a flash of red when appropriate!

  3. I feel so much more confident having a professional photo on my website. Time for a new one soon as my hair gets lighter. Thank you for the reminder 🙂

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  4. Very timely post. We have been thinking of professional photos for our blog, especially now that other type of work, like speaking gigs are coming up for us.
    However, because we are a travel blog we have been concerned that professional photos might not really fit who we are and what we do. What do you think Nikki?

    I’m definitely leaning more towards we should

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      With the right photographer they could definitely work – location photos outdoors would be great but for the speakers circuit you’ll also need headshots with plain background.

      Whenever I’m asked to speak, I’m asked for a bio and a headshot photo by the event organiser. These are used at the event and in promotion.

  5. I think it’s really important to have a great photograph of you that really represents who you are. Professional is fabulous – particularly if you’re a blogger who has her blog attached to her business, you need to present a professional image. If you’re a part-time or non-business blogger I don’t think it has to be professional, but a lovely photo really helps people relate to you.

    I’ve found that some photographers really don’t do digital photos they want to do pictures, others are happy to supply you with a disk and the rights to use them. So ask them before you go along what their deal is. I’ve got a great photographer in Melbourne if anyone would like his details.

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      Definitely ask what you get in the package and copyright restrictions – you want to be able to use and distribute them anywhere.

      Even if your blog isn’t attached to a business, media may still be after you for a story and having an image ready is a big plus.

  6. Photography is definitely one area where it pays to go to an expert! I had a photo byline back in journo days that used to make me cringe, now I look back I can see that it was a great shot.

    Oh, and PS – you looked like Christina Applegate in 2009 🙂

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  7. Love this blog post Nikki. So true and hard to believe many people dont see the importance of this.
    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous and you look every bit the Style Queen that you are!!!
    A great representation of your brand.
    Beautiful.
    Sue xxx

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  8. Totally agree. Scored a free photo shoot off notanotherfuckingcoupon and have been using the shots from that session – not ONLY on my blog – but for CVs and the like as well. Totally handy.

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  9. Great advice Nikki. Pity Busichic is in Melbourne. I would’ve taken her up on her offer. I’d love some great profile pics. Just wondering, is there any reason why you chose a black outfit for each photo? Also, a lot of blogs, some of the more popular ones, never have photos of their creators on the blog, rather having graphic images. I know you’ve got your photo in the banner. Would you just have it on your ‘About’ page if you didn’t want it in the banner? Sorry for all the questions. You’re just always such a great source of information. Have a great weekend Nikki. (Did you get any of that storm this morning?)

    Anne xx

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      I heard the storm, yes! I chose neutral colours for my outfits so it would give me longevity with use of the shots and work with my blog’s theme colours. And yes, having your photo on your about page is perfect!

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  10. Interesting to read this post today… I’m in a quandry. I’ve found myself in the position where I need to make some income, but need to be able to do it from home. I read lots of blogs (as most of us do) and the buzz around the blogosphere is about how to make money from your blog.

    I haven’t decided yet what to do. And for that matter if it is within my mental means to even persue such an avenue. When I started blogging I did it for me.

    That said, I love your input and tips of the trade. All things for me to consider.

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  11. Hi Nikki,

    My topic!:D

    Similar to yourself, I come from an industry (professional services) where we needed to have a set of professional photos which were used in proposals to seek work from clients. These images were shot in a uniform way across the organisation that was consistent for the brand image but gosh, rather awkward and unflattering for the individual!

    Through my blog photographing business streetstyle, I noticed that people I’d photographed started using my photos as their “online faces” for their their social media accounts like Twitter (oh my shock when I realised that a gent I’d photographed was also someone Id already followed on Twitter for some time!), LinkedIn and their personal websites. As such, these days I’m proud to offer a professional profile photography service for photos where the individual blogger looks like themself:) My work has featured in Grazia, The Age Online, Australian Cyclist magazine and not to mention, numerous blogs!

    I also charge less than a professional photographer as I recognise that I’m not one and find my rates suit those with smaller budgets! That said I’m also seeking training to up my skills so if anyone’s interested, gget in quick- more details under the “Services” tab on my BusinessChic.com.au!

      1. Nawww THANK YOU Nikki!

        I much appreciate your support:)

        Ps: as mentioned by the earlier commenters; gorgeous photos of yourself and interesting indeed to see the evolution of your style over the years- commendations to your photog and stylist;)

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  12. your totally right! but i think also these pro photos could be taken by yourself. i have got an entry-level DSLR camera and i purchased a tripod, so i only have to set up the timer and choose a good background. so i can take very good photos of a good quality on my own.

  13. Great post – you are spot on! You are sooooo photogenic Nikki, they are all great shots. Interesting to see how your style has evolved over the years. Our wee team got photos done earlier this year for our soon to be relaunched website and I hate mine. Good quality shot, but makes me look 10kg heavier which I don’t need! Thus far I am refusing to give it to anyone. Bad decision or just plain stupid vanity?

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