I was recently teaching a local group of women entrepreneurs how to leverage LinkedIn to grow their small businesses and I surprised myself because I noticed how long I was talking about the power of your picture online.
Your brand is more than a name, a logo, or the pictures you use, but if you think about it, people are visual and will make impressions based on the first glance they take at how you look online. In almost two decades working as a web designer and strategist, and over a decade of blogging experience, I’ve learned that it takes only a fraction of a second for someone to see your photo and they may judge it before they read your blog post, books, or watch your videos.
With that being said, I know it sounds harsh, but if you’re reluctant to add your picture as a main element of your branding strategy and have been hiding behind a logo or avatar, it’s time to get over yourself. As women, and especially as moms, we’re all critical about the way we look and though we praise everyone else’s photos, we’ll always find something wrong with our own picture.
So even if reluctantly at first, design a picture that is a true reflection of what you stand for. Because I know this can be disastrous process, I want to help you learn how to shoot the right picture to reflect your brand – accurately.
Don’t let the selfie fool you. I do believe in partnering with a professional photographer to get the headshots and action shots you need to represent yourself. Our friends can take pictures we love, but investing in a professional photographer will make a huge difference on how you are perceived online. Think of the leaders you must follow – does their main brand picture look like a selfie or like their bestie took it? I highly doubt that.
However, before you’re seen through the lens, you must be clear about what you want to be seen.
What’s your personal style? (Would you say you’re “glamorous”, “trendy”, “positive,” “down-to-earth”, “professional”..?)
What emotions do you want to evoke?
What traits do you want to pop out? (Do you want to seem “warm,” “welcoming,” “approachable,” “trustworthy”?
You want to make sure your photographer understands that the purpose of each shot you want captured is to communicate your expertise and position yourself as a problem solver and solution provider. Your brand photos shouldn’t just say “I’m me,” they should say “this is what I want you to know about me.”
Your photo is a selling tool so your photographer must help you reinforce your credibility and understand that your shoot will be different than a family or wedding shoot. Inform them what you will be using the picture for, so they can have an idea on how to approach the shoot.
In many cases, if the project is something that you are not ready to share with everyone yet, you will need to facilitate a Non Disclosure Agreement with the details so the professional photographer of your choice understands what is needed.
Most Common Photos Needed For Your Brand
- Branded WordPress blog cover
- Gravatar photo
- Branded social network profile (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, etc.)
- Branded Facebook page timeline cover
- Branded Twitter header
- Branded LinkedIn background
- Branded Google+ cover
- Speaking page photo
- Promotional photo for webinars, telesummits, homestudy courses (including cover and discs) and others.
- About the author page inside the book
- About the author blurb on back cover
- Amazon.com author page
- About the author on book website
- About Page on blog / website
- Media page on blog / website
- Photo for PDF media kit
- Photo for printable PDF speaker one-sheet flyer
- Photo for e-mail newsletter header and e-mail signature
- Poses for bookmarks, postcards, and flyers for book signings and promotions
And there’s a lot more – so pay per session, not per photograph! Some of the shots will definitely overlap, because you want to be consistent across your web presence. I believe in repurposing!
Of course, there is a variety of poses you can try and the photos should be cut to different sizes: headshots (close-up), medium body shot, and full body shots.
Make sure your limbs are in the picture and the picture looks complete. Sometimes my clients have ended up with an image that looks great, but we can’t use because her shoulder is cut off or her hand is missing.
To get a bit technical, you want to make sure your photographer will deliver both Web versions (72 dpi) and High Resolution images (300 dpi or more) for you to be able to use them as you please. And with that in mind, you must own these pictures with no watermark required and that license (copyright) should extend to all platforms where you will use them.
You will want to have your pictures available to be downloaded on your media page so you always look your best when you’re quoted as an expert, and to be able to provide the photos when you’re promoted as a blogger covering an event, or speaker at a conference, without having to go back and ask permission.
You will also need some of these pictures to be cut out of the background if you used one, and to be provided as a .PNG or transparent file. This will make it easier for you to use in different promotional materials in the future.
Ah! And I almost forgot: make sure you ask your photographer to shoot in landscape, not portrait, to give the graphic artist some flexibility. It’s a challenge for photographers to work on a branding session, because they’re used to delivering a portrait as a finished product. Your photos will actually become just a tiny element out of the big design – literally.
If you feel like that’s a lot to ask or are afraid to sound like the biggest control freak, shift your mindset in knowing that you are not only taking charge of your success, but you’re also setting your photographer up for a big win. You will be happier with your results because the photo shoot will be strategic, and they will know exactly how to use their art and creativity to make those outcomes possible. And having been in the web design and graphic design for a couple of decades, I can guarantee that you’ll save yourself and your designers a lot of frustration in the cropping, editing, and integrating process.
After you have found the photographer that understands your expectations and is willing to work with you (and your coach) to make the shoot happen, keep these tips in mind:
- Show your best face- it will be associated with your brand recognition
- Wear your brand colors. Solid colors, no busy patterns
- Wear a style you would wear on stage, at the book signing or to cover the red carpet as a blogger
- Bring several outfits and do several poses with each on. Versatile, simple, and classic is always the best choice for both attire and accessories.
- Wear make up, but keep it real – and warn your photographer to not overdo the retouching work. Not having an authentic photo will cause people to doubt your overall authenticity.
- Plan for multiple locations, backgrounds, and background colors
- Bring props that enhance the idea you want to communicate
Above all, have fun at your shoot and be yourself. I recently had a candid photo shoot at the beach and my photographer said it looked like the camera loved me or I loved the camera or both. My trick is to imagine the camera is someone you love dearly and that adds a twinkle in my eye! Love makes you naturally photogenic.
Once you get the photos back, and there will be MANY, consult with your business coach, your book publisher, or other successful bloggers, speakers, coaches, and writers. In other words, this is not a photo for your mom and husband to admire, but rather a tool to increase your success and the odds in reaching your digital strategy goals.
Your photos must stay true to your personality, passion, and purpose, while building a brand that inspires trustworthiness and allows the viewer/reader/visitor to form a connection and sense of relatedness to you as a blogger, author, speaker, coach, and online marketer.
Did you use a professional photographer for your photos? I’d love to hear your photo tips and your overall strategy for poses and props. What does your picture say about your brand? Share with us!