So you're just starting out as an independent author and you're in need of a professional-looking headshot. But, you're low on cash and equipment. What can you do?
This post contain my top 5 tips to organise your very own author photoshoot with the least amount of stress and expense!
Why you need a professional headshot
Getting professional shots of you doing what you love shows your readers that you mean business! You're in it for the long run... and you're having tons of fun doing it.
Although some introverted authors want to hide behind their products, they still need to be visible to potential fans and followers. Here's how you can do that without breaking the bank.
My photographs are usually taken at home (or at least taken indoors). I write when I'm in my office; it's where I'm most comfortable and where my writer's cave is, so I decided to utilise that surrounding.
For my 2017 shoot (as seen in the video below), I chose a spacious room with nice decorations and arranged a comfy place to sit. For my 2019 shoot, we actually attended at the photographer's home (don't worry, she's family).
With a bit of shuffling around and re-organising, you can easily set up a make-shift work space if you don't already have a desk or working office.
Use your home or a familiar setting - will the dining room table work? How about in the garden or in front of your bookshelf?
Set up a fake office/ work space if you can. Clear a desk and re-purpose it temporarily.
Consider the weather - indoor or outdoor? This can affect the lighting and you wouldn't want the wind to mess up your hair or rustle the pages of your paperbacks.
Wear something comfortable but professional-looking. For example, a shirt/ blouse, heels, etc. Avoid sweatpants for obvious reasons (unless you're writing about sport and need an action shot).
The colour of your clothing doesn't have to be black; it can represent your personality and the genre you write, but you should always consider where the image will be used and what those other colours will be. Will the image be difficult to see or drowned against that background? Is this photograph likely to be circulated and printed in the media?
In my 2017 shots, I'm wearing a plain black dress and I've done my hair and make-up. The necklace I'm wearing is a symbol from my high fantasy series, Finding Pandora. In my 2019 shots, I'm wearing jeans and a pretty blue top, plus some of my favourite jewellery pieces.
I didn't buy a new outfit for these shoots, so there was no cost on either occasion.
Use clothes you already own - what about work wear or a plain dress you own? Brush your hair and your teeth - look presentable and pleased to be there.
Look professional but be comfortable, and remember to smile!
Consider weather and location - will you get cold or wet? Is what you're wearing suitable for the genre, too?
If you write for children or steampunk, can you wear a costume?
If you're shooting outside, you should consider the lighting and how busy that place will be. You may also want to re-consider your choice of clothing. If you opted for a local park, you'll need it to be quiet and dry so you don't accidentally capture anyone in the background.
My photographs were all taken indoors on an evening. Dark winter nights were therefore not an issue for me, but they may be for you, so give this some thought before you make any plans.
Consider the lighting - dark winter evenings or bright summer mornings?
How busy will that place be - avoid rush hour and be sure you don't accidentally photograph a stranger in the background.
Are there any items you would like to include in the photos with you, such as your own published books, your journal or a bookshelf? I included books and writing materials in mine. If you write horror, you may wish to drape some Halloween decorations in the background - spider webs, a pumpkin perhaps, for effect.
To keep costs low, use things you already have in your home and/office.
My photographer was a member of my family with a passion for taking pictures, and so already owned the equipment. If you don't own a camera, you could take the photographs using your smart phone. If you're going to take a selfie or do this yourself, avoid reflective shots of you in a mirror - the same rules still apply.
Find somebody who makes you feel comfortable and calm. Friends and family members are ideal for this (unless you think they will make you laugh, which could be a positive thing!).
Record some behind the scenes footage
Use a member of the family or a friend with a good eye/ passion for photography
Use a high quality mobile phone or tablet
Ensure those taking part get something from the experience, whether this is a payment in £ or $ or visibility for their business. Also consider a mention on your social media platform or, if they're family, a gift.
And that's it.
Have an amazing photoshoot!
Watch the video:
I asked another member of the family to record what was happening for the 'behind the scenes' footage in 2017. You can check it out on my YouTube channel.
Author Vlog | Behind The Scenes At E. Rachael Hardcastle's Photo Shoot! 26/01/2017
Rachael Hardcastle is an Amazon international #1 bestselling author from Bradford, UK. She is the founder of Curious Cat Books (est. 2017), but is also a trained copy-editor and a publishing coach with a diploma in Successful Self Publishing and a university-level Business qualification.
She has been writing for over 10 years—first published at the age of 18—is the author of five successful novels and co-author to her first children's book, Bluetooth & the World Wide Web (2019).
Rachael keeps a regular monthly journal on her website www.erachaelhardcastle.com and, alongside the authors signed to her company, shares their events and adventures with her readers.
"Can I convince you to give my brand new publishing guide, 'The Universe Doesn't Give A Sh*t About Your Book: A Brutally Honest Guide to Self-Publishing' a browse?"