13 tips for professional business photos

Nikki Parkinson Life 63 Comments

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.

13 tips for professional business photos | Styling You

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.

Nikki Parkinson of Styling You. Photo by Sarah Keayes www.smok.com.au

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.

Nikki Parkinson of Styling You. Photo by Sarah Keayes www.smok.com.au

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.

Nikki Parkinson of Styling You. Photo by Sarah Keayes www.smok.com.au

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.

  • These are some great tips. Thanks for sharing x

    • You’re welcome Kate … have been doing this since I started my business 7 years ago … so essential.

  • I wish I had this post a month ago before I had some images taken; it was my first time on the other side of the camera; I used to work as a stylist BUT seem to have missed the memo for styling myself for the photo shoot…boxy jacket – tick, shirt that cut me in half – tick – oh well, best to learn from our mistakes…x

  • Super tips and very timely! I’ve been thinking its well time to ditch the selfie. Thanks Nikki!

  • Such great tips, thanks Nikki. I like the idea of getting shots done together with some other bloggy friends to keep costs down. Seems so obvious now!

    • Most bloggers have those connections so it’s a win-win for both of you! Good luck x

  • This is so helpful Nikki and very apt for me as the photo I see beside this comment is at least 4 years old… and I’ve aged!!

  • Mine are about 18 months old so probably time I got them re-done …

  • I will be needing to update mine as the last ones I got I was pregnant with Phoebe and looked fuller in the face. 🙂

  • I always freak out when I get my shots done. I’m always super excited and do the hair/makeup but seem to become a cheese-ball. Slowly but surely i’m getting the hang of it. Agree with every one of your tips- people will save a tonne of money by following these. I’ve realised a shoot will never be perfect or myself for that matter at the end of the day- even Cindy Crawford has belly flab!

    • So true Nat … and it’s about presenting ourselves as we are to the world!

  • Thanks Nikki – great advice!!

  • You look gorgeous Nikki. My favourite is the one on the verandah. The yellow top really suits you. Thanks for sharing your tips x

    • Thanks Sarah! The yellow/citrus colour really worked – even in the headshot it makes it stand out.

  • This is such a great post, Nikki! I never thought of having a range of different poses and backgrounds available, definitely makes sense! And of course, your photos are lovely 🙂

    • It does as the photos do start popping up here there and every where – having a mix means that you can offer a variety to media and online.

  • sydneyshopgirl

    I love these photos of you, Nikki!

    SSG xxx

  • Petra

    I have always had a passion for photography, and I love these shots of you Nikki. I like the one with the window shutters behind you -that’s probably the most “professional” of the lot imo! I don’t need professional shots for anything but I can certainly see the point of having up to date/current ones, and a selection as well. I think yours really reflect you, your happy personality and the fun business you’re promoting 🙂

    • Thanks Petra … there are others I have on file too … great as some require more relaxed images than others so I’ve got a mix ready to go!

  • This is exactly the kick up the bum I need! I’ve been putting off having images taken because – to be totally honest – I didn’t really know where to start. I’ve since connected with a couple of potential photographers (one professional, one who isn’t but takes beautiful photos), I’ve started a Pinterest folder of pics in the style of images I like… now all I need to do is just book the damn session in (and hair and makeup of course – you know me!). Thanks for these brilliant tips, Nikki. Love all of your images. They are perfectly you. x

  • Emma

    I’ve been meaning to comment on your updated images on the blog! They look really fresh and bright. I love your colour selections in the outfits, as well as the outfits themselves; they work really well with the “location”. So pretty.

    • Thanks so much Emma … just switched over after getting these last year! Better late than never.

  • Kelly

    In my industry professional photos are very common. There is also a big move away from the corporate head shot to more of a lifestyle vibe though both still have their uses. My biggest tip – if you can, take some photos of yourself with your hair and make up done and the outfits you are going to wear before your session with the photographer. Sometimes, the mirror and the camera can show things differently and it is better to sort them out beforehand. Of course a professional photographer will have you pose better but you can sort out things outfit patterns, length of dresses, are you wearing too much or not enough make up. Great tips Nikki!

    • That’s a great tip Kelly … I’ve found #everydaystyle outfit posting does help weed out the outfits I thought were great for me but really weren’t!

  • This is GREAT Nikki. Although I have loads of photos of myself thanks to the outfit photos for the blog, this is something I don’t have. It’s a real missing for my business. Great tips! I’m going to get organised. I’ll let you know how I go!

  • Trina McLellan

    Congratulations, Nikki, an excellent array of inspiring suggestions. I’d like to add one, post-shoot tip: If your gorgeous promo photos have worked their magic and you’re going to do a TV or video interview, don’t wear stripes, especially close stripes (or busy patterns such as herringbone), as these sorts of cameras struggle to distinguish smaller areas of visual information and your material’s pattern will seem to ‘dance’ around, distracting from your intended message/s. This, for any fellows reading these comments, goes for ties too! Have a great week.

  • Great Tips Nikki! I totally get the whole feeling conceited thing, I struggle with modelling for Mojo big time (especially alongside that gorgeous daughter of mine), but have had my friend and awesome photographer over the last 3 years Angie Branch taking my shots…. she is a magician… http://www.angiebranch.com.au/ It certainly pays to have someone who knows what they are doing and of course professional hair and makeup – I use Tina Kristen Hair on the Gold Coast
    https://www.facebook.com/tinakristen they are amazing.
    You have got me thinking though that I lack profile pics for promos- yours have inspired me to have more of those taken next shoot. You look as amazing as ever in yours. Love it!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I don’t think it is up yourself to get new photos done Nikki!
    I must say you are a very photogenic woman I love them all,you’re one very stunning woman Xx

  • Johanne Taylor

    I just had new corporate photos taken at work. We have our corporate images on the emails we send as well as using them for publications, the website and when we speak at conferences. That means you do have to look at them a lot.
    The office in Sydney is pretty strict about using current corporate images, but some of my colleagues in Asia use 10 year old glamour shots and it really is a bit jarring when you meet people face to face and they look nothing like the photo on the email you’ve been corresponding with!

    • Oh exactly Johanne! The disconnect is immediate and that’s not what should happen!!

  • Love all your photos NIkki. I need to get some done stat. I am thinking I will ask my daughter to as she is really good at photography as she has done a few professional stints for others. V x

  • Excellent and practical tips. Love how casual yet polished your look is.

  • merliyn

    all good tips here thankyou nikki!
    professional photographers are great! they know what they are doing and are trained!
    my daughter did photography at art school and mr m chose it as part of his bachelor of education! so I just have to tap into the expertize!
    may I plug a local young person with talent and a fantastic portfolio and eye!
    45 the strand pt Elliot s.a.
    nikki is that snake going from your page? I’m freaked out and paranoid hun!
    love m:)X

    • Thanks for the recommendation! And snake? Sorry I don’t understand? X

      • merliyn

        it was on around the web ads it’s not there now! … love m:)x

  • Bek @ Just For Daisy

    Such great tips! 🙂 Thanks Nikki

  • Christina

    Great post. I had mine done last year by Amanda Waschevski at Salt Mama Studio and the result made me tear up. I highly recommend her work for all you brisbanites. http://www.saltmama.com.au/#!contact/c1et

  • Great tips, thank you Nikki! And I love your pics. I really need to get some updated photos. Thanks for the nudge 🙂

  • Love these photos and thanks for the great tips to. Getting some fresh photos has been on my to do list for a while and you’ve articulated the Why perfectly! x

  • I’m not yet at the stage where I have a budget for professional photographs for my blog but we do have a photographer come to the farm each year to take some photos of our family (that I’m actually in!) These past few years I’ve asked her to snap a few extra pics of me that are suitable for headshots etc.

    (That said, my current pic was taken by Rachel Devine from Sesame Ellis at Problogger last year. Choosing backgrounds etc was fun!)

    • Love Rachel’s work and very smart to get your photo taken at PBEVENT. And getting some extras on the annual family shoot!

  • Kathryn

    I don’t think it’s conceited or up yourself at all. Rather good business sense. I love the photo where you are wearing the striped dress, you look capable, stylish, approachable and just right for a style blog. And the wardrobe shot of course. We have our photo taken every year at work, and I always make sure my hair looks better than normal and I wear more makeup. Lovely post Nikki 🙂