I don’t know if it’s just because I’m incredibly nosey, but whenever I go to a new blog or website and enjoy the content, the next thing I want to do is find out what the author looks like. It always nice to put a face to the name after all. A lot of us are afraid of having our photos taken or showing the world what we look like (why!? you are beautiful!) but having one is super important. Using a photo of yourself not only builds trust and makes people feel like they’re talking to/ reading the words of a real person but it’s a great way to filter out your non-ideal clients.
I obviously have quite a strong ‘look’. Some people will love the pink hair and tattoos and that’s awesome, we’ll probably get on great and I want them to keep reading my site. Others will look at me and think “What a hot mess, pink hair is tacky and tattoos are gross!” and that’s fine too, why would I want someone to keep reading my site if they think that? They clearly aren’t going to enjoy my content. It’s actually a great filtration method.
Even if your personal style isn’t a polarising as mine, having photos of yourself on your About page and as your social media profile photo is imperative. So stop being scared of the camera and start embracing the chance to show the world who you are and what you look like!
When it comes to taking a great About Me photo, here are some of the most important things to think about:
Photography is essentially painting with light so it is crucial for taking a great shot. There is no point trying to take the photo when it’s dark. If you schedule in a shoot, make sure you give yourself plenty of time before the sun goes down.
At the other end of the scale, never stand in direct sunlight. The harsh shadows on your face will not only be incredibly unflattering, but you’ll be squinting. Never a good look. If it’s a bright day, find a patch of shade to stand in. The diffused light will be a lot more forgiving.
If the day is overcast or gloomy, look for natural reflectors. A natural reflector is basically anything that reflects light back onto the subject. If there is a pool of light on the ground, stand just behind it so it can bounce up and illuminate you. If the light is limited, get someone to hold up something white next to your face (off frame obviously). This will bounce some light back towards you. A pillow or a blank sheet of paper is perfect for this.
In an ideal world, you want to be shooting in natural light. Tungsten light photographs really yellow and fluorescent or strip lighting is just a gross nightmare. If you are indoors, stand facing or near a window. Natural light is an amazing natural airbrusher and the glass of the window will also nicely diffuse it as it hits your face.
Standing in front of something interesting, even if the shot is going to be a close up, will create a much more dynamic final picture. I personally love coloured walls or striking wallpaper.
Make sure there is nothing ugly or distracting in the background. Even if you’re shooting with a shallow depth of field (so the background is blurry) it’s better to not have anything too obnoxious back there.
Props can be a great way to get your personality across but can also give you something to do or hold if you’re nervous about being photographed. Don’t just grab something for the sake of it though, think about the story that it tells.
It is a little cheesy to hold a camera if you’re a photographer or a wooden spoon if you’re a baker. It is an option but try to think of something less obvious. What story do you want to tell and what do you want people to know about you? If it’s that you’re fun and wacky, how about rocking a weird hat or some crazy sunglasses? If it’s that you’re whimsical and thoughtful, why don’t you hold a balloon or a bunch of flowers?
Turn off that flash!
Flash is not the devil. There are some amazing photographers out there who kill it every time with incredible flash techniques, but unless you really know what you’re doing, turn off that on-camera flash. It will wash you out, irradiate anything pretty or subtle from the shot and will make you look like a sick person.
If your photos are turning out too dark, put the ISO up on your camera a notch to compensate, wait for a brighter day or use some natural reflectors!
Hair and make up
You will feel a million times better and more confident if you feel good about how you look. If this is a photo you’re going to be using over and over then of course you want to look your best. Booking a hair and make up artist should be top of your list.
Hiring a pro
Similarly if these are photos you are going to use a lot (on your About page, in the press, on your social media) then they are worth investing in. If you don’t fancy struggling through with getting the knack of your camera, posing well and thinking about light all at the same time, then for goodness sake hire a professional to do it for you!
Someone who has a good camera and lens (and crucially knows how to use them) will always take a better photo than you can do yourself with a tripod and remote or a well meaning friend. A great professional photographer will also know how to pose you in the most flattering way, will be able to put you at ease in front of the camera and will know how to get the very best shot every time.
I personally love working with wedding photographers because it’s their job to make people look good! A lot of them will also take head shot or portrait session bookings and you’ll be surprised at how affordable it can be if you only need them for a few hours.