As a creative person and a small business owner, you may have wondered how you can photograph yourself and still put your best digital foot forward. Getting professional photos is a great option, but sometimes you just need to take a quick shot to help market your business.
I talked with Erinn Bridgeman, a professional photographer living in Indianapolis, Indiana, to get the scoop on what to try and things to avoid when shooting photos of yourself for your website or social media.
As the founder of Bridging HerStory, Erinn offers many resources to help empower female entrepreneurs, from helpful blog articles and a quarterly subscription box featuring small, women-run business, to her new Bridging HerStory podcast and one-on-one coaching services for small business owners and creatives! Follow her on Instagram.
Here are Erinn’s pro tips for photographing your best self!
Tip #1: Always shoot with natural light.
This means you will need to plan ahead! Avoid direct sunlight, though. Whether this is a photo of yourself or of objects of your work, make sure you are using the light strategically. Getting close to a window or door is great to use the natural light, but if there are light shafts, use a diffuser to calm the light a bit. This can simply be a white curtain or cheesecloth. Also, make sure you are using the direction of the light correctly. Typically you will want the light to come in from the side or from in front, not from behind (this causes your images to be “backlit”).
Tip #2: Be intentional with your backgrounds.
Even if you don’t have an Instagram-worthy home, you can still take beautiful photos indoors. I tell people to invest in creating several “surfaces” to photograph your work on top of to showcase your work best. This will allow for a consistent aesthetic on Instagram, and the rest of your branding. You can cover boards of wood with marble contact paper, get some drywall plaster and smooth it onto a canvas and then paint on top of that, just for a few ideas.
Larger “surfaces” can work for headshots. Choose a room with neutral walls and light-colored curtains that can diffuse the light for self-portraits. Declutter the room first, take a couple of test shots, and then make adjustments.
Tip #3: Make the most of your phone’s capabilities.
Here are a few particular tips for using your mobile phone. This first one might seem silly, but wipe off the lens. So many people end up with blurry photos because their makeup and face oil is smeared on the camera portion of their phone.
When you can, always use portrait mode. This could be for photos of yourself or photos of the items you are creating. This allows for beautiful bokeh in your images and gives it that professional look if you are not able to use a DSLR.
In my opinion, do not use “selfies” on your Instagram feed. It’s okay that you are using a phone to take your photos, but do the work to pre-plan and have someone else take your shots. It’s very obvious when a photo is a “selfie” and it sends an unprofessional message. When you hire a professional photographer, you will never walk away with photos that look like that angle of a selfie, so try not to emulate that yourself.
Tip #4: Pay a professional to take your headshots.
I recommend hiring a professional photographer at least once a year. Investing in a one-time session can give you images to use throughout your entire year! I wrote a whole blog post about planning your brand photo session. It has ideas like changing outfits and your hair and planning “scenes” ahead of time so that you have content that doesn’t look like it was all from one session!
Lindsay is a modern quilter, writer, and editor. A multi-book author with C&T Publishing, her latest project was designing sampler quilts for FreeSpirit Block Party (Stash Books, September 2018). She also works with Craftsy and Baby Lock sewing machines, and is an editor for Frommer’s Travel Guides. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, son, and two cats, who were the inspiration for her adult coloring book and Kickstarter “Project of the Day” Lazy-Ass Cats. www.lindsaysews.com, www.lazyasscats.com