By Emily Frances Olson, photographer
We have all been there, scrolling along our socials, seemingly an endless log of beautiful images. Then we stop the scroll. We take a closer look at a photograph that makes us pause. As a photographer, I am constantly shooting, editing and examining the work of other photographers. My days are spent around images, and even I cannot always put into words why certain images make us look a little bit longer.
We can explain in general terms why we like certain photos (“I love the lighting,” “Her smile is so natural,” etc.) but there is a magical, ineffable quality of photographs that I truly believe everyone deserves to have of themselves. I find that a great portrait or headshot is absolutely essential for every business owner. You deserve a portrait of yourself that shows the best version of you, that resonates with you, and you are proud of.
Finding a Photographer in Your Area
Begin by defining a few words about yourself and your brand. What would you like this photo to convey? Consider where you would be comfortable having this photo shot and how it aligns with your brand.
Start your search on Google with the name of your nearest big city along with a few of your key words, as well as where you prefer to have your photo taken. You can also search these as hashtags on Instagram with your location. Here is what my search would look like:
NYC Natural, Professional, Studio Headshot Photographer
This will narrow down your search quite a bit, and now you have the task of playing art director. Go through portfolios, and be sure to save the pages of any photographers that resonate with you.
Reaching Out and Understanding Cost
Contact the photographers whose work you really love, and tell them a bit about yourself, and what you are looking for out of your portrait session. Here are some important questions:
1) What does your typical session involve—how long is it, do I need to bring anything and what is your approach?
2) Will I be able to use these indefinitely across my social media? Are there any other costs or rules associated with using these photos for publications?
3) What is your turnaround time for these photos?
As for the cost of photography, I would budget to not spend anything less than $500 for a session. The cost of a great photographer is not just their time spent shooting but includes: editing, cost of equipment, communicating with you and general business overhead and expenses. Think about how often this one portrait of you will be seen and used for your brand. The work that goes into this photo is far beyond just hitting “click.”
The Day of Your Portrait Session
I always say to clients, “Wear what makes you feel best.” This applies to hair and makeup as well. The week of your portrait session is not the time to try out bangs, or go to a professional makeup artist if you dislike having your makeup done!
Ask the photographer beforehand if you are able to bring a change of clothes or, at minimum, a blazer or change of shirt. If you are able to have up to three outfit changes, bring one “fun” outfit. Perhaps this is a dress that might not feel as professional as the other options, or maybe it is a vintage band tee that you just really love. The more you feel like yourself with your photographer, the better you’ll work together and get results that reflect who you are.
It’s a Wrap!
I have photographed thousands of people in my career from models to Micheal Bloomberg, and I can confidently say that everyone has their insecurities or their doubts about being photographed. By accepting that we might feel a little awkward, or wish we did this a decade ago, we can then move on from those thoughts and focus on the present. You are giving yourself the gift of a portrait that is a reflection of you now, and that is a beautiful, timeless gift!
About the Author…
Emily Frances Olson is a portrait and editorial photographer based in NYC whose work has been published by clients such as The New York Times, Architectural Digest and American Express. You can view her work here: emilyfrancesolson.com.