Our latest post (and video) is more of an advice-based thing for anyone who may be getting their first professional author headshots done. Whether that’s for their new website, for a social media or digital marketing campaign, or whatever. Anyone who may have no idea where to start… I urge you to read on…
This year, I branched out from my usual photographer, Patrick Čermák. Instead collaborating with new friend Jamie Webb of JKW Media on my latest author headshots, which were taken outdoors.
First bit of advice, before the Top 5 list – get yourself a photographer that you get along with. Meet them for a coffee or something first. I was fortunate to know and have worked with Patrick for many years before he started photographing me. Meanwhile, I had actually interviewed Jamie for a couple of features on HQB News earlier in the year.
Both photographers come highly recommended and you’ll find links and so forth at the end of this article. But before you do any of that, I recommend you consider the following points.
1. MAKE SURE IT’S ON-BRAND
I brand myself as someone quite smart, professional, elegant some have said… usually in shirts and trousers, often with the waistcoat, pocketwatch, etc.
It wouldn’t really do for me to have promo shots in T-shirts, hoodies… informal stuff, in other words. Unless your campaign is deliberately saying something about challenging your brand or doing something different, then obviously do what you like. But otherwise, consistency is the key in this business. Right down to how you look.
2. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR BACKDROP
If you’re indoors, try to get your writing space into the photos (or maybe even the places around the house where you don’t work). Or parts of the house that suit what’s on show. These photos of the books were on an elegant, arguably period-looking dressing table, for example.
Outdoor shoots open up so many other avenues. I come from Bournemouth, which has a number of remarkable sights of which to make use, plus a rich literary heritage. Try to draw on similar things if you’re having your promo photos done outside.
3. MAKE SURE YOU’RE COMFORTABLE
I tried an outdoor shoot last year and, ultimately, I could only really use four or five of the end results. The reason? I was not remotely comfortable being photographed in public, and it showed in the photos. To put it bluntly, I looked like I had sat on something very sharp the whole time.
If you’re having your author headshots done in a public place, I’d recommend finding a photographer who uses discreet equipment. An LED light stick, for example, as opposed to a full-blown light box. Draws far less attention from the general public.
I know it may seem obvious to say, “Well if you don’t like being photographed outdoors, just stick to indoor shoots”, and there’d be nothing wrong with that. But it can run the risk of your content going a bit stale after a while. Having a mix of indoor and outdoor photos adds to the variety.
4. HAVE SHOTS OR CAPTIONS IN MIND
As many of you may know I’m a planner with a vengeance. But on this last shoot I did, I was asked to let the photographer know if I had any ideas shots-wise, and apart from knowing I wanted half with me and the Bournemouth backdrop, and half with me and the books, I had nothing. More ideas came to me as we were doing the shoot, and then I could imagine what captions were going to go with which photo and so forth.
Of course, it also depends on what you want to use the photos for. My experience aside, it definitely helps both you and the photographer to go in with some concrete ideas in mind. You’re more likely to get the most out of your shoot, which are not always the cheapest things.
5. DON’T REPEAT YOURSELF
In the interest of keeping your content fresh, try not to go for the same poses, expressions, backdrops, outfits, hairstyles, etc. That may seem like an obvious point, but I know I am guilty of making more-or-less the same face in some of my photos, for example.
With this point in mind, I say it helps to work with only one or maybe two photographers for your author headshots. As opposed to getting different ones every time. The more you build your relationship with these people, they’ll become more familiar with your brand and, most importantly, what’s been done before. Not only by you, but by other people in the same or similar field.
Jamie Webb has an extensive photography and videography portfolio and range of experience. You can find the pages for his company, JKW Media, on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, plus its website. In addition, if you’re interested, find out more about Jamie, his work and his views in these HQB News articles:
- Jamie Webb, Videographer & Photographer (Q&A article)
- JKW Media: New Documentary Aims to “Help Students Realise They Don’t Have to Drink to Fit In…” (News Article)
- How to Become an Influencer in 2021 (Feature with opinions and advice from various Bournemouth-based influencers)
Patrick Čermák is an experienced event, fashion and portrait photographer originally from the Czech Republic. Visit his website for more information.