Do you hate (loathe) having your photo taken?
Do you turn into an awkward dork when faced with a camera?
Do you not look remotely like one of those young, carefree humans currently clogging up Instagram with their youth and solid 8-hours sleep (curse them!)
Ok, but now you’ve actually started a blog you’re going to need a photo for your about page. So that your future adoring readers can see your pretty face.
But if that makes you want to reach for the duvet (and the bottle of ‘mommy medicine’) don’t despair.
This post walks you through 9 steps to planning a blog about page photo shoot, so you end up with a photo you can be proud of.
CAVEAT: I’m not a photographer. I have literally zero photography/modelling expertise, but I have survived 4 blog photo shoots in my quest to find the perfect photo (or at least one that didn’t make me want to wear a balaclava for the rest of my days).
This post comes with an ‘oh, that’s handy’ workbook to help you plan your own blog photo shoot.. Click to download.
1 How many photos do you need?
Let’s get clear about how many photos you’ll need and how you plan to use them. If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest getting a range of photos for the different social media platforms, a services page (if you want to attract clients), blog sidebar, and your about page. You don’t need a ton of photos, but you don’t want to have to go through this shit again.
2 What’s your brand style?
Hopefully you’re crystal clear about your blog’s branding by now. But if you’re not go immediately to this helpful blog post from Laura at the Badass Business Mums.
I’ve done 4 photo shoots for my website’s photos (3 of which were an unholy disaster). Looking back there were 3 brand elements that I should have thought about before booking the photographer.
Color: What are your brand colors? Remember that these photos have to ‘gel’ with the rest of the colors on your website. Although you don’t have to dress in your brand colors, you do need to take your brand colors into consideration when planning your outfit and photo background.
Tone: What’s the ‘tone’ of your website? Write down 3 things you want people to feel when they visit your online ‘casa’.
There’s no point going for a ‘fun’ photo (complete with comedy mustache and sombrero) if you want people to feel calm and peaceful on your site.
Register: How formal or informal you want to look? This will depend on how you want people to see you? (expert, friend, sister, teacher, counselor, professional, fun, corporate, rebel.) The ‘register’ you want to achieve will help you decide the location, poses, outfits, and props you choose.
3 Who’s going to ‘shoot’ you?
Hiring a professional photographer can be expensive, so be sure to ask for recommendations from family and friends. For the camera-phobic, I’d suggest having a really good chat with the photographer and then deciding how comfortable you feel around this person.
Finding a family member and/or friend to take the photos is a great way to keep costs down.
If you’re camera-phobic, it might be reassuring to have a trusted friend take the photos. Or it might be easier to have a stranger take the photos while you adopt a Kim Kardashian-level camera confident persona. You be the judge of what works best for you.
Taking a selfie. A lot of people will tell you not to take a selfie, that it’s unprofessional, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, why the hell not? Sarah from XO Sarah has an amazing guide on how to take a selfie for your blog: Click HERE to go take a look.
4 What inspires you?
Create a secret Pinterest board.
(Ever notice how many creative endeavors start with the words ‘create a secret Pinterest board’? How did we manage before Pinterest?)
Using the information from question 3, roam around Pinterest and assemble a smorgasbord of photos that capture the type of image you’d love to have on your own about page.
Don’t forget to look for poses you like too. For a more relaxed photo, check out your favorite fashion and lifestyle bloggers. If you’re going for a more formal photo, check out corporate headshots ideas.
When you get to about 50 pins, stop. Now stand back and behold your inspiration board. We’ll use this to help us work through the next sections.
5 Choosing a location
Do you want to be photographed in a studio? Or outside? Or in your home office, kitchen or creative work space?
This decision may depend on what kind of business you want to promote and what branding you want to convey. But also think about where you feel most comfortable.
Now, let’s narrow things down further: choose your background. Choose a background color that compliments you and isn’t going to pull focus away from your beautiful face. If you’re going to be in a studio, check that the photographer has a backdrop color you like.
6 Choose an outfit
Head back to your Pinterest inspiration board for this one. Remember you’ll want to take 3 elements into consideration when choosing your outfit.
Brand colors: You don’t have to wear your brand colors, just choose something that compliments them.
One mistake I made when I had my photos taken for this blog was my fuchsia pink scarf. Every time I see my photo on the website, that fuchsia scarf irks me. Fuchsia scarf with orange website branding. Eugh!
Brand Register: How professional do you need to appear? How formal or informal? Are we talking t.shirt or suit? Maybe a fun t.shirt with a suit jacket?
Brand tone: What feelings do you want your outfit to evoke? Stylish, Confident. Friendly. Relaxed. Fun.
Remember that the little details that give you an opportunity to reinforce your brand: nail color, hairstyle, jewelry.
7 What pose are you going to strike?
If your usual photo pose is somewhere between I-don’t-know-anyone-at-this-party awkward and High-School-Yearbook awkward, let’s beat that with some forward planning.
Firstly, think about what kind of photo pose you want:
Head and shoulders.
Full length body.
Secondly, what are you going to be doing with your body:
Smiling directly at the camera
Looking away from the camera
What’s going to be most appropriate for where you want to use these photos?
You could use a full length body photo in your about page but that same photo wouldn’t really be appropriate for your blog sidebar photo (where people want to see your face close up).
Now you know what type of pose you want to strike, go back to your Pinterest board and find some poses that you like. For example, there are a hundred ways to pose in a head-and-shoulders photo. Which one works for you?
Plan 3-5 poses and either sketch them out or create a mood board so you can show whoever’s photographing you.
8 Do you want a prop?
Now let’s think about props. Using a prop can make it easier to know what to do with your hands. It can also help you feel more comfortable.
How about grabbing one of these cute props for your photo shoot: clipboard, pen, iPad, bag, cup, pineapple, umbrella, phone, flowers, purse, pens, color swatches, kids’ toys, calligraphy pens.
If you’re really camera-phobic, how about a photo of you cheekily looking over a book?
Basically the possibilities are endless.
9 Have you discussed all this with the photographer?
Make sure you communicate all this to your photographer well in advance and get their advice too. Send examples of photos that inspire you. Be clear about poses, location choice, how many photos you need.
If you’re shooting outside, have you thought about a Plan B in case it rains? (#British_Weather)
If you’re paying a professional, it might also be worth checking your contract for any important information about release and usage rights. Just in case.
Are you ready for your close-up?
I know that having your photo taken should be fun. It's a good excuse to do your hair done, put on some make-up and nice clothes. But honestly, I'd rather scrub the bathroom grout than say 'cheese'.
If you feel the same, hopefully a bit of forward planning can take away some of the awkwardness.
Don't forget to download the workbook.
Good luck, mama!