Most people rank having their picture taken somewhere slightly above going to the dentist.

I get it.

But, hey, if you want to attract the right clients for your business, you need to show up, and professional pictures help you a long way into achieving that goal.

Let’s get you ready to rock this task and get pictures you will love.


Before you strike a pose

If you have come to terms with the idea of getting new pictures, there is some homework you need to carry out to make sure you have a great experience and get pictures you will feel confident to show.

1) What is what

Before you take your first step towards your new set of pictures, you must understand two options that are frequently mixed up (in our minds, that is) and make a choice: headshots & personal branding shots
Having this clear will help you find the right photographer for the task and agree on the assignment.


CarolineThangavelu portrait-2018


This type of pics focus on your face and expression and establish a relationship between the photograph and the viewer. These images are mainly used for social media profiles, CVs, bios and the like.

Photos top l&r and bottom left by Alice G. Patterson – Photo bottom right Rudy Wells

Photos by Alice G. Patterson

Personal branding shots

These type of pictures tell a story about who you are and typically result in a collection of formal and casual images in various environments. These are great for websites, social media posts and blogs.
Having this clear will help you find the right photographer for the task and agree on the assignment.

(Special thanks to Jen Liddy for posing)



2) Don’t overlook this

Once you’ve sorted out the type of images you want, it’s time to focus on the photographer.

Alice G Patterson, who specialises in women’s branding photography, explains: “Not all photographers are the same. You want to use a photographer whose style you like and feel their work can represent you.
Imposing on a photographer a style that is not theirs will not give you the results you want. You need to have the same vision.
This is the first step for a successful shoot, and many people tend to overlook it.”


3) Make clear agreements with your photographer

“If you haven’t met your photographer before, try to schedule a meeting whether online or face to face, so that you can get to know each other -suggests Luis Gómez, a freelance photographer and photojournalist living in Washington, DC.- This meeting will allow the photographer to grasp your personality and help you decide on the specific shots and pictures you want. At the same time, you can learn more about the photographer’s expertise and be in a better position to decide if you both are a good match.”

“I do always recommend if my clients are working with a marketer, a web designer, or they’re in collaboration of any kind, to talk to those people before our consultation, and see if they have any specific needs, such as neutral backgrounds, landscape format instead of portrait, or dramatic effects like light/shadow” adds Patterson.

Many photographers have a questionnaire they’ll ask you to fill in advance of the shot. Take the time to complete these questions as detailed as possible and provide the info timely; this will only help improve your experience and the final results, a stellar headshot.


4) If you want to love your headshots, communicate your expectations

Your photographer could create beautiful images that you don’t love, and that would be a pity!

When you meet with your photographer, discuss your expectations in detail.
Consider some of these points:
-what do you need the pictures for (websites, social media, profile),
-location (studio, outdoors, other indoor places) and the preparation required to shot in that place
-what you wish to communicate with the new pictures
-the level and type of touch up (not always included in the package)
-for when do you need the pictures ready
-date & time for the photo session
-what kind of props do you want to have, or if you want pictures with your pet.

When I prepare briefings for photographers on behalf of my clients after a (re)branding exercise, I also include:
-Details about the brand (whether new or refreshed)
-Look & feel, colour palette and explanation of the colours
-Aspects of my client’s personality from my perspective
-Technical specifications about the pictures when they are for a website

If you can’t meet the photographer or have worked with one in the past and you’re re-hiring, you can send the points above in writing.


5) Last but not least: the budget

Prices may vary from one photographer to the other and depend on the number of pictures you choose. While you may be tempted to err on the lower end, a professional portrait is an investment in yourself, and it has a significant impact on your brand and prospective clients. Factor that in when crunching numbers. ?

“All this preparation is crucial because it helps you feel more confident coming into your shoot. That makes the session easier & more enjoyable for you – reducing your stress & worry.
Once your photos are delivered, if you had a great experience during the shoot, then. “it’s easier for you to decide which headshots you’re keeping,” explains Patterson.

How to feel more confident during the shoot

A week before the headshot
-If you plan to have a facial treatment, or have your eyebrows done, make sure you do it at least five days in advance so any redness will have time to disappear.
-Have plenty of rest and hydration, and eat well
-Prepare your outfits, check for any stains or reparations needed (buttons etc.), and most importantly: wear what you feel and look great in.
-Avoid white, strident colours and busy patterns; you want the focus on your face.

On the day of the headshots

-Arrive on time and check beforehand that you have with you all you need: a make-up bag, outfits, props, etc.
-Trust your photographer! “I hate to have my picture taken! and What do I do with my hands? are the two most frequent things clients worry about,” says Alice Patterson. “No need to worry. A good photographer knows how to help a client get comfortable. Let yourself be guided.”
-“Do not sabotage yourself with negative messaging like I am fat, old, have a double chin, etc.- adds Luis Gómez. Photographers have plenty of tricks to make you look your best!”
-Enjoy being the centre of attention and try to have fun. It will reflect in your pictures!

A note about the make-up
If you are not good at making yourself up or don’t wear any make-up regularly, hire a pro.
Gómez recommends not overdo it, “go for a natural look, accentuating the lips and the eyes. A lot can be done with lighting and (soft) retouching.”

A high-quality portrait increases the overall perception of the value of your business. Good preparation will help you to get that stellar headshot you dream of. 

With special thanks to:

Alice G. Patterson  is a brand photographer and educator located in Syracuse, NY. She is changing how female entrepreneurs show up in their social media marketing with monthly photo sessions; and helping other brand photographers shift their business model with the invent of her group photo membership called Loving My Company LLC. Alice is currently accepting applications from photographers for her BETA training. When she is not working, Alice can be found cooking vegan food, bird watching, and enjoying the company of her rescue cat. You can follow Alice on Instagram at @lovingmycompany and @alicegpatterson. Check Loving My Company and Alice G. Patterson Photography

Luis Gómez is a freelance photographer and photojournalist living in Washington, DC. During his 35 years as a photographer, he has travelled the world collecting images for work and pleasure. Check Luis Gómez Photos and One Photograph a Day. You can follow Luis on Instagram @lgomez66.