Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Importance of a Professional Headshot

When my short story Birthright was accepted for publication, J. Taylor Publishing welcomed me into their fold. It was an amazing feeling. There was much rejoicing … and cake. However, the publisher sent me a daunting production schedule. One of the first things on the schedule: send them an author photo.

I thought about sending them my old author photo. My husband took the shot and I fixed it up. Having worked in the graphic design and animation industry for nine years, I’m used to ‘improving’ photography as seen in the example below:
For a long while this photo was fine for general use. However, the publisher specifically requested a professional photo with a plain background. I could’ve fiddled with the photo again and pasted in a plain background, but my husband was against it.

He asked me, ‘Is your writing career important to you?’

I wanted to say, ‘Well, der!’ Instead I restrained myself for a change and said, ‘Of course’.

‘Then this photo is also important,’ he replied. ‘You shouldn’t skimp on things like this. If you want to be taken seriously, then you shouldn’t try to cut corners.’

He was right, of course. So below I’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of why a professional headshot is so important:

1. To be taken seriously. A professional photo will say immediately that you are serious about your career. For writers, it will say, ‘I’m an author. Writing is more than just a hobby.’

2. To give the right impression. A party shot with flash photography searing out the corneas of your eyes will not give the world the kind of impression you want. We all know how important first impressions are, so make sure it’s the best it can be. 

3. To look like a star. Okay, maybe not a star, but you want to look your best. A professional photographer will know the little tricks to make you look awesome.

4. To give readers confidence. For example, if an indie author skimps on their headshot, it will make me wonder how much else they are willing to skimp on—such as the all-important editing.

Can you think of other reasons why a professional photo is so important? What are the reasons you would or wouldn't use a professional photo?

On Monday I will post tips on How to Fake a Professional Headshot. 

.

62 comments:

  1. I think it's just part of the brand. I have 2 author photos. One is for my gritty urban fantasy (me in front of a pile of bricks), and one is for my slick sci-fi thriller (just a simple black and white head shot). Both were taken by the same photographer and I'm really happy with them--which means I don't hesitate to send them out when someone asks for a pic. That alone is worth quite a bit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I used to cringe when a publication would ask for my headshot. Now I can hand it over with pride.

      Delete
  2. While I have a couple of photos I use, I have a professional photographer friend I'll turn to if and when my lucky day arrives. You look "mahvelous," Lynda!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great self-control. I might have said,‘Well, der!’ Lovely picture. I too have a friend that I've already given notice to regarding my picture. Now, I just need finish my W.I.P.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know how much it would help, but I still balk at the professional photo. I'm fortunate that my publisher hasn't insisted on one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've always known headshots were important, but I've never quite thought of them like this! If you look important enough, people will think you are. Great post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've always believed that if writing is your profession (or you want it to be) then you need to treat it as one. Professional head shots falls under that category. Just my two cents.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, if I had need of an author photo, I'd have that thing professionally done in a heartbeat just for the airbrushing!!

    And your photo is great!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great tips. Your photo is awesome! I think it gives your readers confidence in your professionalism.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I want a professional photo. My sister is a make up artist, and has offered to do my makeup. We just need to schedule it. The photo I use on my blog I took myself. Did my own makeup and propped my camera on a box with auto photo. Not very professional!

    Both of your pictures look great. I'm glad your husband encouraged you to do another shot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ah, but the sneaky thing is, my new photo cost me nothing and wasn't taken by a professional photographer. My hubby took the new one, but more on that in my post on Monday ;)

      Delete
  10. Lynda, can I just say that the thing which impresses me most about this post is that you are on your way, sweet girl!

    Seeing all of these steps you are now being required to take thrills me to my toes. It makes me very happy to see your success, growth, progress and all wonderful attendant things. Not the least of which is a stunning head shot. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are few things in life that are better than thrilled toes. I truly hope you are right.

      Delete
  11. "Well, der!" Indeed!

    Love your list of why the PROFESSIONAL picture is important. You certainly don't want potential readers to dismiss your book because your picture looks like it was shot by a drunk friend with flash.

    It's so awesome that you're at this stage! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. It's awesome and scary all at once.

      Delete
  12. Great tips, thanks! I don't have pro. photo yet (hence the Daisy), but I'll get there eventually, career-wise and budget-wise.

    Love your photos - both the one you "fixed" and the one in your sidebar.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great tips - for me I'd have to add that I stink at manipulating photos! I'd mess it up for sure :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just send 'em my way. I'll make you look like a star if the base photo is solid.

      Delete
  14. So true about getting the right photo... the new one looks clearer and so much better:)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great post...something to really think about. Maybe once I sell something I'll spring for a photo. (Hopefully they can airbrush me younger and skinnier.) :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Lynda. I have a quirk, oh, just one? I always love those BEFORE and AFTER pics. Somehow I always like the BEFORE. And I prefer the BEFORE pic that your hub took except I agree, the white background in your newey looks better. I'm looking forward to learning how to fake it next post, lol! Trouble is, I'm just pathetically casual! Must be the Aussie in me.

    Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, us Aussies have to fight that casual nature ;)
      So when's the next BBQ anyway?

      Delete
  17. I couldn't agree more! a professional photo is so important for all the reasons you stated and your new one is so much more professional than the old

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello! After visiting your blog, I invite you to join us in the "International Directory Blogspot"
    For this is the very simple, just follow our blog, enter your Country, your blog url, and you will automatically integrate into the Country list.
    We are fortunate to be on the Blogspot platform that offers the opportunity to speak to the world to share with us the different passions, fashion, paintings, artwork, photos, poems and so be able to find in other countries people with similar passions.
    I think this community could also interest you.
    We ask that you follow the blog "Directory"
    Follow our blog gives you twice as many possibilities of visits to your blog! Thank you for your understanding
    Please follow our blog is very appreciate
    Have a great day with the hope that you follow our blog "Directory".
    After your approval to join us, you will receive your badge
    Regards
    Chris
    I follow you blog
    To find out, click on the link below:
    http://world-directory-sweetmelody.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  19. Awwww love your gorgeous writerly pic!!!

    I think the more professional the better for your portfolio/reputation!

    Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  20. I should've had one ready. Now I gotta go get one. Thanks for the tips. =)

    ReplyDelete
  21. yep, you photo in the sidebar is more professional, although I think you should ditch the black shirt and go for something classy but sexy :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't do sexy. I reckon people would point and laugh if I tried ;)

      Delete
    2. oh, please, a shoulder revealing midnight blue top or a dress would look swell on you.

      Delete
    3. then you'd see how ghostly white my skin was! I like your choice of colour, though.

      Delete
  22. I have a family photo shoot with on of my very favorite photographers in August and I'm planning on her taking one or two shots then that I can use as author head shots. I think it is essential, and with that, I really wish authors would update theirs more often. People change, they look older or whatever, and I find it frustrating when the image on the book isn't even close to a representation of the author now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard that author photos should be updated once a year. Seems reasonable.

      And be aware that you'll need to also buy the copyright for your headshots, so you can use them for publications.

      Delete
  23. I have soooo got to get one made. I just keep hoping I'll drop 20 pounds magically before I do. I also need a tan, and get my hair done. Can I think of any other excuses???

    ReplyDelete
  24. Lookin' good, Lynda. I agree that a professional headshot is so important in getting yourself both noticed and taken seriously as an author.

    I've heard that the best headshot poses are when people stick their chin out and squint their eyes (very slightly). Is there any truth in this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yep, there is truth in it, but it has to be done subtley. Sticking the chin out only works if the shot is face on and it's meant to sharpen the jawline and remove the double chin.

      Delete
  25. I love your site. Bloggers need ideas to constantly come up with topics to write about. I'll be visiting you frequently and I am your new follower too! Take care and more power to your career!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Look at that difference! Wow. It is such a great shot, Lynda. And you're right--it's all so important to labeling yourself as a professional. :D

    ReplyDelete
  27. Sí, los resultados son magníficos. La verdad es que para ser un profesional de la fotografía como en cualquier otra profesión es importante la cualificación.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yes, the results are magnificent. The truth is that to be a professional photographer as in any other profession is important qualification.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say thank you in both languages if I could :)

      Delete
  29. I don't think it has to be a professional photo but should look professional.

    Personally, I don't look at an author's photo. I like to imagine them just like I imagine the characters they write about.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I agree a professional photo could be very useful. If only I didn't turn into Chandler Bing when someone else is trying to take a photo of me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAhahahahah! Yeah, I have that problem too. Check out my post on Monday and I'll have a solution for you.

      Delete
  31. I need to get one before I get any older ... lol Maybe if I sell some books soon ...

    lol Cherie

    ReplyDelete
  32. One of the things I am looking forward to doing is getting my professional photo taken. It will mean I am going to be or am published! That is why I have waited to do it.

    Great post, lady. I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. For details and to claim your award badge, go here: http://sabrinaafish.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the award! I appreciate it :)

      Delete
  33. People judge you by how you look. If you look professional, they will take you seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yes because photoshop can make everyone look better! Great shot!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Great thoughts here.

    A photo can be a first impression. They say a picture "speaks a thousand words" - I wonder what it says about me? lol

    ReplyDelete
  36. Yep. I agree with this.

    Sigh. Does this mean I have to go and get myself a professional photographer to take my author headshot? Probably. But maybe after the baby comes out and my face is no longer puffy. :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I agree with this. A professionally done picture speaks a lot for itself. You look great, Lyn!

    ReplyDelete
  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Your photo is great and the points you make are important ones. An author's picture conveys a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Looking great, Lynda! I'm learning so much from your series of posts. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi! I've given you the Booker Award. Pop on over to my blog to pick it up. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I've not seen this award before! Thanks so much!!

      Delete
  42. A picture IS worth... never mind. Anyhow, I agree with you, and your blog picture looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I got a friend with a great camera to snap a million photos the day I got my hair done. I think it looks professional enough for now. But I could be wrong. Your pic is great. Xx

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.