It’s a rare person who likes to sit for a formal photo. Rarer still is the person who likes any of the proofs after a photo shoot!
But it is important that you have an image of yourself that is a true representation of who you are. As a writer, this image becomes your brand. You should use it on each element of your social media platform. It should be on your website, your twitter account, your Facebook page, etc. Using one photo consistently helps solidify your brand in the minds of your audience.
I don’t think it’s necessary that you go to a studio for a quality photo. In fact, some of the best photos taken of me have been by family and friends. I think that may be because I’m more relaxed, which results in a more natural shot. My brand photo (above) was taken by my daughter. She must have taken 150 photos over the course of a day – indoors, outdoors, natural light, artificial light.
So that you create a sense of intimacy (as if you were meeting the viewer of the photo), a headshot is best. The photo should not have elements in it that distract from you, like your dog or a beautifully flowering shrub or another person.
If you google “how to take a professional portrait” you will find lots of ideas that will help you with your posture and with your facial expression. For some good tips, scroll down to “Method Two” on this site. Though written for those who want to attempt a self portrait, it gives lots of suggestions for you, the subject of the photo, to help create a relaxed, professional look.
You will out-age your image at some point. When you wonder if maybe you have, ask a trusted friend if it’s time to update your photo!
In time, I’ll write more about the SEO (search engine optimization) power of photos, as, these days, there is huge SEO power in the labels of images on your sites. For now, BEFORE you upload your professional photo to any of your sites (or email it to the press), be sure it’s labeled with your name and perhaps the word “writer” or “author” as well. If someone googles you, the photos will help draw them to anywhere the photos are. You don’t want the label on the image to be “DSC_0081.jpg” for instance. You want it to be “Jane Doe-author.jpg” (or .png or whatever the format is).
It helps if you have well organized folders on your computer to hold your files. For instance, you might have a folder called “Press Images” where you keep your brand photo. When you save the photo to that folder is when to give it a label that includes your name.
Smile and say “Cheese!”