Does the thought of posing for a prim-and-proper professional photo make you feel like grinding your teeth?
Good news. Neither extreme close-ups nor cheesy “me at my desk” poses are necessary for you to win great gigs as a freelance writer.
But you do need some kind of photo to display on your website, your LinkedIn profile and so on — otherwise you’re nothing but a faceless silhouette in the online world. And faceless means forgettable.
Lucky for you, I spent a couple of years working as a photographic model before I became a freelance blogger. Here are some tricks of the trade to help you get a pro-looking photo without hiring a photographer or buying a fancy camera.
Blogger on a budget? Don’t worry, none of these ideas require you to spend money.
Find Your Free Photographer
If you’ve ever looked up the prices of professional portrait photographers, you know they can be pretty damn expensive!
All that equipment and expertise makes a one-hour photo shoot a pricey proposition. But that’s OK, because you don’t need to hire a photographer to get a usable business portrait photo.
Option 1: Ask a Friend
If you know someone who takes clear, well-composed photos, ask them to help you out. It’s free (though you might have to reward them with cake or owe them a favour), it’s easy to organise, and you can always ask them to try again if you’re not keen on the first few shots.
Option 2: Ask a Photography Student
A lot of student photographers make a “time for photos” exchange with models: you both spend your time for free, and you both get copies of the resulting photos. Photography students have a trained eye, advanced equipment, and a desire to get great shots for their own portfolio, so they’ll probably give you better results than a quick point-and-snap session with a friend.
If there’s a likely source of photography students near you, for example a college offering photography courses or a local photography club, get in touch with them and ask if any students are interested in taking your business portrait on a time-for-photos basis. You may need to sign a model release form for the photographer, and it’s a good idea to have them sign a statement granting you permission to use the photos they take.
Find Your Free Gorgeousness
Even supermodels and movie stars have a metric shit-ton of ugly photos. They pick out the flattering shots and hide or delete the ones they hate. This is the true secret of getting a great photo: take hundreds and use only a handful of the best.
Aside from that, here are a few ways to make your photos look even better than the real thing:
Trick 1: The “Princess Di”
For an alert-eyed look, copy the way Princess Diana carried herself in photos and TV interviews. That means you hold your neck straight and keep your chin down so you’re looking slightly upward into the camera. It helps if you imagine a string attached to the crown of your head, pulling you up.
Avoid tucking your chin in too far, though, or you’ll suddenly have three of them. And try not to look brooding — if you’re peering at the camera through a layer of eyebrow, you’re probably overdoing it. 😉
Trick 2: The Squinch
OK, a squinch is when you narrow your eyes by moving only your lower eyelid, not your upper eyelid. This one works well even if you’re not smiling; it leaves you looking self-assured and is the perfect counterbalance to the wide-eyed “Princess Di”. Practice in the mirror before you give the squinch a try in front of a camera, because it’s easy to slide from a squinch to an unflattering squint.
Trick 3: The Bingo Wing Lift
I don’t know if there’s a colloquial term for this where you live, but here in the UK “bingo wings” are the soft flesh of your upper arms, especially your triceps (at the back of the upper arm).
If your arms touch your sides, the soft flesh on your arms gets flattened and widened by your body behind it. The bingo wing lift is simple: if your upper arms will be in the shot, hold them slightly away from your body so they don’t look weird and flat.
Find Your Free Short-Cuts
Still hate your photos? There are 3 easy ways to fast-track to a better-looking business portrait:
- Laugh out loud. Tell jokes, watch cats on YouTube, or whatever it takes to make you giggle. Then hold that thought, look straight into the camera, and click! You’re the friendly face your ideal client can imagine hiring.
- Turn a colour photo into a black-and-white. It’s arty, it’s understated, and it never clashes with the background colour no matter where you use it.
- Edit like crazy. Got red-eye? Stray hairs? Stress zits? A signpost in the background that looks like it’s growing out of your head? Photo editing software is your new best friend. Try Pixlr, a free online image editing app that includes tools for red-eye removal, spot healing and an airbrushed effect. Or enter the contest below. 🙂
Use the comments box to share a link to the photo of yourself that you use for business, and tell us what you do or don’t like about it. Or, if you don’t use any photos of yourself, tell us what’s holding you back!