Getting The Best (Personal) Photos For Your Website

It’s never been more true that a picture is worth a thousand words.

In fact, maybe instagram alone has hiked it to 10,000 words.

So why do so many consultants and advisors still have the wrong photos on their website?

The ones that add ten years (or ten pounds).

Or that veer into the too stuffy, too casual or too out-of-synch-with-your-brand category.

If any of these strike a chord, you can fix this far easier than you think.

It starts with getting clear on exactly what it is you’re ready to project.

And if the first word out of your mouth is gravitas, know that there is more to that than a stern visage and a suit and tie.

Gravitas is a feeling of significance. Which means you can do a lot with warmth and color if being warm and colorful is part of your clients’ experience of working with you.

So. If you’ve already done brand strategy work, you should have your big idea and a handful of key words that reflect your personal brand. That’s your starting point.

For example—my big idea is “Be unforgettable” and the key brand attributes I want to express are: creative, insight, warmth, passion, compelling.

These were the words I used as my lens to choose the photographer, the shoot locations and ultimately the images themselves (you can be the judge as to whether I succeeded).

Just spend the most time getting your inspiration right—and everything else will fall into place.

Note: if you’re doing more than a simple headshot—say a website with multiple images of you—you’ll need to prepare a shot list.

This forces you to be very clear about the essence of each photo and where it will “live” on your site. It also helps make sure your photog takes the right number of landscape or portrait shots to fit your site plan.

Once you’ve got your inspiration and shot list, start your search for a photographer. Your best bet is usually by referral. Ask friends and colleagues whose photographs you admire (and who express some similar attributes to yours).

If your list isn’t robust enough, scour winning websites in and outside of your specialty for the names of their photographers.

And yes, google (and maybe even Yelp) them.

Pour over their site and samples.

How does their work feel to you? Remember, you’re hiring them to make your audience feel a certain way about you. Would you be happy being portrayed like the subjects on their site?

And yes, read their spiels of course—there may be a deal-breaker or two sprinkled in there. But you’re hiring them to get images, so spend your serious time on those.

Once you’ve narrowed the possibles down to no more than three, arrange an introductory call with each. Share your objectives with them—especially your key words—chances are your best options will start consulting with you right at the get-go.

And be sure to ask some critical questions:

How will you work with me to get the best shots? Have you worked with anyone else similar to me/what I’m looking for? (if yes, ask to be pointed to samples)

Where will we shoot—in your studio, my home/office or on location(s)? If on location, where do you see us shooting?

How long do you expect it will take and what will it cost? (be sure to get the costs for shooting, editing and image delivery)

Will you arrange for hair and makeup or must I do that? What will it cost if you handle it for me? (Gentlemen, while you may elect to go sans make-up, do invest in serious personal grooming just before the shoot)

When are you available and how long afterwards can I expect to see the proofs?

What are your key contract terms?

Assuming price points are roughly comparable, your final selection is usually all about chemistry.

Who feels like they “get” you?

Once you’ve made your choice and scheduled the day, you’re ready to get the most from your investment—which means a little planning…

What you wear—and bring—to the shoot needs to match your brand and the look/feel of your website.

Yep, we’re talking outfits and accessories.

If just thinking about it makes you break out in hives, then enlist the right someone to help you decide what brings out your best qualities AND reinforces the key words you’ve chosen for your shoot.

Innovation or creativity your thing? Then you better look modern and not even remotely like anyone else.

Maybe you’re an introverted rocket scientist type. That might mean a more understated look, but perhaps you’re ready to break out a bit more and experiment.

There are no hard-and-fast rules except that you want to bring your best self forward.

The best way to know is to experiment. Pull different wardrobe and accessories options and mix and match. Or just bring all your choices and lay them out for your photographer.

A good one will be able to improvise, matching what you’ve brought with what you’re going for.

On the day of the shoot—and yes, do spend the little bit extra to hire yourself a professional hair/makeup pro or glam squad—get yourself in EXACTLY the right frame of mind.

Which is not being hyper-critical of whatever you perceive as your flaws.

Nope, you’re going to channel your inner Heidi Klum or George Clooney.

Which means being confident in what you bring to your clients, your tribe, your people.

And leaning into it.

Like my introverted, camera-shy client who prepped oh-so-carefully for her shoot with a top photographer—including five pre-planned outfit changes huddled behind a curtain on the streets on New York.

She simply made a decision to enjoy the experience and later described it as one of the most thrilling days she’d ever spent.

And the photos proved it—we had a tough time choosing, we had so many viable shots.

Just one final recommendation and you’re good to go.

Take a page from the method actors’ book to get real expressions of depth and emotion (vs looking like you’re uncomfortably forcing a smile).

Recall a time you felt happy or content or powerfully competent and imagine yourself there.

Hey, you might even think about the clients you’ve helped.

Because this is not about being a supermodel—you just want your photos to invite your sweet-spot clients to get to know you.

And save you 10,000 words.

p.s. Like what you see here? Head on up to that orange bar to sign up pronto and I’ll deliver my weekly insights directly to your in-box.

1 Comment

  • Spot on Rochelle. Never thought about it per se for my site, in part because the basic shots involve only a headshot and a book cover and reliance on messaging (there are links to pics from certain interactions but I made the choice to add them because they fit my branding and imaging.
    That said, the instructions reflect pretty much what we do on a “candidate shoot” we do since many political client lack good pics usable in political media. Interesting how worlds intersect.

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