Every author needs a good, professional headshot to represent them to their readers in an accurate and positive way. Authors not only need an attractive and authoritative photo for the back cover and the author bio page of their book, they also need to use these pictures to give a consistent image of them on social media, their own websites, press releases, posters and other marketing materials, and of course when the media come calling.
How Does A Headshot Come To Look So Good?
First, your portrait needs to be in color and at least 8×10 or larger. It needs to be clear and sharp. If you publish e-books or print on demand books, you will also need a small, high resolution version of the picture for your covers. The same goes for your author page on Amazon.
Just having a great photo isn’t enough. It can be the best picture you’ve ever seen, but it still requires direction to come out right. This is where I can help. I can show you how to make the most of your photo sessions to come away with the best possible image.
Illuminating the headshot
Most of my headshots are done outside in natural sunlight but sometimes I use studio lights if I direct them to specifically highlight the best aspects of your features. Your clothing has a legitimate purpose, not just to look nice. Certain colors and patterns of clothing can help to highlight your skin tone, hair color, or other aspects of your appearance. Be aware that a photographer is naturally going to light your picture to best show off your features.
Make sure you select someone you feel comfortable with
With some people I have gotten along well and have had a great shoot, while other people could get along with a barn bearing down on them and still be tense. If you aren’t trusting and relaxed with your photographer, you will come out looking tense or uncomfortable.
Another element of not hiring the right person is simply a lack of experience. The bulk of my clients are professional writers so it’s a little bit of an education for them on how pictures are made. Your pictures will look better if you have gone through the process a couple times and have a fundamental understanding of what goes on. If you have never been in front of a camera before, you may be surprised with how quickly you pick it up after one or two shots. And if you choose to use a professional photographer, it’s always good to have at least a little experience behind you so you know when you may be overdoing it.
It’s now the big picture
Once your pictures are taken, they need to be processed and edited. This can be as simple as some post processing to get a good contrast and exposure balance, or it could involve multiple edits, using different tools to perfect the image. I’ll show you my tools and what I normally do with your pictures. My editing process is fast and easy. Because I make most of my living working on pictures, I have a lot of practice in developing my techniques. Once again, if you can see how your photos go from raw shots into useable images, you will realize what a magical process you are making use of.
Now that you have a photo of yourself with a professional image, you can start making the most of it. Many of my clients have no idea how easy it is to use your own headshot image. Now they have a great photo of you, and you can use it to your best advantage every time.
What Does Your Perfect Headshot Image Include?
In my experience, the most effective photos are headshots of you looking directly at the camera. You can have a person place you in the right pose, or you can do it yourself. To get the best results from you standing in for your shot, sit down and look at the camera from a distance. You’ll find that as you hold the pose, your head will naturally move into the right position. If you can, have someone place a tripod with camera on it in front of you and take a few full length pictures. This way you can see how you look from a higher angle. Having them take a couple close ups from different angles can also be helpful.
Having someone else take your picture lends itself to showing the details of your clothing. Make sure they pay attention to the details, like your sleeves and how you are wearing your watch. Many of the best professional shots will be up close and full body. Having your picture taken by a professional photographer will help you have a good reference when you want to shoot your own pictures.
What Kind Of Clothes Should I Wear?
The clothes you wear will depend on what the picture is for. If it’s a book cover, I have a certain formula that I always follow. It includes what shade and pattern of shirt you should wear plus what color you should wear for pants. If you don’t have an author photo on the back of your book, I will typically shoot you sitting down. If you have written a fiction or a romance, the color of your shirt should be something that is found in the book, either in the story or in your writing.
When choosing what clothes to wear, think about the main idea behind what you want to present. That’s typically what I make the picture for. So if you want to present yourself as a lawyer, you might be wearing a gray suit and blue tie, but thought about getting those colors to tie together to show that you’re a very professional but still non-threatening person.
If you’re creating author portraits of yourself, you can get your picture as close to your favorite author as possible. Most likely you will be trying to emulate an author who wears glasses or simply focuses on a certain style of clothing.
Getting Your Headshot Done
Finding the right headshot photographer can be a time consuming process. You could spend a lot of time trying to find the right person to work with. There are a lot of places to look. Here are a few:
- Your local photography associations
- Online at photography and modeling websites and social media sites
- Glamour shoots in your local area where professional photographers gather
- Any website or FB page that specializes in author photos
The above also represent a couple of ways to go about getting your photo taken. While the first three are the easiest and the most effective, if it’s your virgin photo shoot, and you aren’t too sure about the industry or what you want to get for your money, it’s always okay to have a friend take the shots. If you can have a friend or relative take some shots of you in different poses, you will be able to compare them and pick the best shots and edit them yourself. Doing them yourself is one way of seeing what you are doing wrong and how you can fix it.
What’s most important is that you feel comfortable with whoever you’re getting your pictures taken. While I mentioned a few other things to look for earlier, the one thing that is most important in your headshot is the personality behind it. The person who is taking your pictures needs to have the idea that they can show something in your personality through your pictures. You will be able to tell almost immediately if you feel like the photo session is going to work.
Working With Your Headshot
Working with your headshot image starts with choosing the right picture. If you have already chosen what you want to use as your author photo, you will be able to keep your eyes open for more photos you can use. You can use your own headshot, along with the author pictures you see online and even what the author has used in their books.
Some of my best pictures end up being the ones where I try to look my best. If you’re looking for your headshot to be used in a blog, you should look for the best photos of yourself. The same goes for photo books. Having a group of photos online is only as good as the best of the bunch. If you have a bunch of the same kind of picture online, you won’t be as memorable to the people who end up seeing your image.
There isn’t a lot you need to do to get the best out of your images. Choose your best shot, crop it in the middle, and sharpen it. If you have a professional photo that you’re shooting from above, it might be good to sharpen it, but try to leave it alone otherwise. When you choose your best shot, take a moment to think about how you want people to perceive you. Will they think that you have a poor personality or a great personality? What kind of book will you be representing? Are you writing a biography or a novel?
Getting Your Headshot Images To Work For You
Once you have your image the way you want it, you can resize them so they all look the same. This will help you use them across all the different social media sites. You can also use them in your blogs, and if you have good images you can use them in your back of your book. By having just the right picture to go with your book, you will be able to look like you’re an established professional and this will increase your marketability and boost your success rate.
Your headshot is the way people will recognize you when they are reading or see your book. It’s important to have a good one to go along with it. Taking your pictures from the comfort of your own home is one of the best ways to have good looking, professional pictures. Having gotten more experience with camera angles and positioning, I take about 100 pictures before deciding which one to pick.