Categories
Writing and Publishing

Seven Tips to Get a Headshot You Can Use

Last week I asked, “Do you have a professional headshot?” and urged you to take care of this now and not put it off. Here are seven tips to have a successful photoshoot, many of which I learned the hard way:

  1. Hire a professional: A friend with an expensive camera won’t do; a professional photographer with experience taking headshots is essential; ask to see their portfolio before committing.
  2. Envision the results: What look do you want to achieve? Will it be professional or casual, an inside setting or outdoors, playful or pensive?
  3. Plan extensively: This includes hair, wardrobe changes, possible props (a pen, coffee cup, glasses), setting (a desk, table, park bench, trees), and ideas for poses. If you see author photos you like, show these to the photographer and discuss how they apply to you.
  4. Prepare to pay: In my experience, cost tracked directly to quality and usability. Yet we must also balance this expense with our budget. As a starting point, expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars, likely more. Consider the cost of senior pictures; our author headshots are more important.
  5. Trust the photographer: A professional will likely twist and contort our body into the most uncomfortable and awkward positions, but usually, the results are good. Be compliant, willing, and flexible; do what they say. Go with it and don’t object; they know what they’re doing. However…
  6. Know when to say no: When a photographer asked me to remove my glasses, I objected. If I’m not sleeping, I’m wearing my glasses. I never take them off, don’t twirl them, or push them onto my head. A shot without glasses may look good to someone who doesn’t know me, but it won’t be me. If I show up at a book signing wearing glasses but my book and publicity shots don’t include them, readers will feel the disconnect.
  7. Relax and smile: It takes a while for a photographer to coax some usable shots out of my non-accommodating self. Knowing that I mentally prepare to be as easy to photograph as I possibly can. (When they say, “Ooh, these are some really great shots,” I know they’re actually trying to loosen me up.)

With proper planning, having a headshot taken can be an enjoyable time and produce great results. Then we can enjoy the process and expect great photos.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Do You Have a Professional Headshot?

In “Every Author Needs a Bio,” I said the best time to write our author bio is now,before we need it. The same holds true in getting a professional headshot. Not only will we need one for our book jacket, but we’ll also need one prior to publication for PR, marketing, online profiles, promotion, and even business cards.

Don’t put this off until the last minute because a good headshot requires planning: finding an experienced photographer, scheduling the photoshoot, locating the right setting, determining what look we want to achieve, and fine-tuning our appearances, such as hair, makeup (for the ladies, but maybe men, too—seriously), clothes, and accessories. While a great photographer may help guide these decisions, many will not; they’ll set a date and start clicking.

Twice, I’ve tapped a friend with a nice camera. Although the results were good, they weren’t good enough for a book cover—both in terms of the quality of the picture (resolution, lighting, and background) and the quality of the pose. While I did use them for social media, websites, and other nonessential situations, they weren’t acceptable for professional marketing.

Three times I’ve hired professional photographers. The results directly related to cost. The one that charged the highest sitting fee produced the most usable shots. These photos had the quality to appear on a book jacket. I used her pictures for several years, but with a change of glasses and a few more gray hairs, I eventually had to update them.

The second photographer, at half the price, produced a couple of usable shots. I used one for my websites, business cards, and book proposals, even for an e-book, but it wasn’t quite good enough for a printed book.

The third photographer, the cheapest of the three, produced no usable pictures. I wasted my money and time. (She did do a few retakes, which I used for online publicity shots.)

Give some thought to having a professional photo taken; next week I’ll share seven pointers in getting the most out of your photoshoot.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.