How Get A Great Portrait

Was trying to cram Book Yourself Solid into my head last night until it exploded. But one thing he talks related to credibility was having a professional photograph.

Given I’ve done a lot of people photography I thought I’d give a few tips and thoughts.

There are different kinds of photographers. Unfortunately most are what I refer to as PPA photographers. They are stuck a couple of decades back on the curve of photography. If you are looking for a headshot and they put you in front of a mottled blue background, you are in the wrong place.

TIP 1: The best people to have do your head shot are photographers who specialize in actors headshots.

Your images should reflect a feel or emotion. Just like copy isn’t just about what you are selling, your image isn’t just about what you look like. It should make the viewer feel something.

Your expression is going to have a lot to do with the feeling. So think about the feeling you want and then what expression causes that feeling.

TIP 2: Just like I tell my models, practice in front of a mirror. Try different expressions and poses.

Feeling will also be influenced by lighting and depth of field. This is why you need to get the right photographer. There is technically right lighting and there is artistically right lighting. You want artistically right lighting. I’m not even going to try and explain that right now, but you’ll know it when you see it.

TIP 3: Pick a photographer based almost solely on their portfolio.

The biggest problem when trying to commission any kind of art is knowing what you are going to get in the end for something that hasn’t been created yet. Fact is you won’t know 100%. The best indicator you can get is the images they have already taken. This tells you something about their “style”. A style is made up of the things an artist is comfortable creating and the elements they use over and over.

TIP 4: Use a modeling site to find a photographer.

The yellow pages or local newspaper rarely will help you find the kind of photographer you are looking for. You need to go where you can look at a photographers work when they are most expressing their style. Since you want them in your area, a modeling site lets you search by zip code.

Here are a couple:

Model Mayhem
One Model Place
Deviant Art — not really modeling, but artistic photography

You also may find what I call a professional amateur on these sites. They are photographers who love it as a hobby and have gotten really, really good, but they don’t do it for the money. They will if it comes along, but aren’t really marketing for it. Offer these guys some money and you’ll get a quality product for good price. I’d consider myself one of these guys.

TIP 5: Not every photographer is good at everything, but style does come through.

There are two areas of photography where you see the high quality artistic photographers excelling. Wedding and High School Senior photography. These also happen to be the biggest money makers. So if you are looking for a good portrait, look at who the best of these guys are in your area.

Lastly I’d just like to say photography matters. It tells people if you are serious or not. It’s like good webdesign.

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