Having a professional photo for use on social networks, bios and even your website is essential, so if you decide to hire a photographer for the job, congratulations - I think you've made the right decision.

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If it’s the first time you've had a professional shoot - or maybe it’s the first time you've had a professional “professional” shoot, as opposed to wedding photos or similar - I wouldn't blame you if you felt a little uneasy.

I did, and it wasn't even my first time having my photo taken by a professional. How I found my lovely Barcelona-based photographer, Zoe H, was the result of some seriously random clicking, but the stars were definitely aligned - the experience was perfect. I felt comfortable the whole time, and I love the results. So, I’ve asked Zoe for her advice about how to make the most of your photoshoot and added some of my own!

Make very sure you know what you want the photos for. If you need bio-style head shots, make sure the photographer knows. Likewise, if it’s for a Twitter background, ensure there are some striking horizontal photos. If they're for your website, have a think about page layout and see if there are any spaces that could be filled with a specific shot. 

Try an outdoor shoot if the whole idea makes you uncomfortable, or you’ve had a studio shoot before and not enjoyed it. It’s better for professional creatives anyway, since a suit and tie-type set-up probably doesn't even reflect your professional identity.

Very uncomfortable studio shoot, versus much more comfortable outdoor shoot - I trust you can tell which is which. Right?!

Very uncomfortable studio shoot, versus much more comfortable outdoor shoot - I trust you can tell which is which. Right?!

Think about the way the photos will portray you. Like Zoe says:

"Wear clothes that you are comfortable in yet reflect the image you want to portray. It’s no use wearing a suit if you are a fitness instructor and are looking for a suitable bio shot for your website!"

Take the season and time of day into account. When I got my photos taken, it was early in the morning and I threw a jacket on over the outfit I had planned. Only problem was, it never got warm enough to take my jacket off, so you'll see it in each and every one of my photos - it was freezing!

Make a plan for the photoshoot that allows you to precisely articulate what you want. Zoe says:

"If you have something specific in mind then tell the photographer. Your photographer will have their own style and will work the location and any sunlight challenges. But, if there is something specific you want then make sure you tell the photographer ahead of the shoot so they can incorporate your requirements. It’s best to be prepared for this before than disappointed after."

Ask for prompts from your photographer; they have experience in the environment and style you want, and taking cues and suggestions will distract you from paying too much attention to what you’re actually doing, which will make you feel like a lemon.

Don’t be surprised at the number of photos taken - it’s the photographer’s way of making sure you look natural in the reduced number you actually receive. From Zoe:

"Most subjects are surprised by the amount of photos I actually take. I try to keep my style as natural as possible, so less posed for pictures. With this approach you take more shots, as many end up blinking or mid-expression. These will be discarded but amongst them will lay a series of great photographs. So don’t be put off that your photographers camera shutter is working so hard."

Think about taking a friend. There are pros and cons here, but it’s worth thinking about. A friend can help you feel relaxed, carry coats and bags, and even help with slight outfit/hair changes. A friend who drives can even help introduce a wider variety of locations, but can also “dilute” the relationship you will hopefully build with the photographer, which is essential for getting photos that make it seem like voguing in an alley behind the fish market is, in fact, the most natural thing in the world… 


Header image thanks to Zuhair Ahmad