How To Get Great Photos Of Yourself
(On A Budget)

You know the saying… “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

It’s true, isn’t it?

When you look a photo it conjures up all types of thoughts and feelings.  Great photos are powerful and immediately draw us in. 

Artfully crafted photos of food make us drool. Beautiful photos of places make us want to hop in our car or airplane and go there immediately. Engaging photos of people help us feel a connection.

Lately, I’ve noticed that the websites I am drawn to all have beautiful photos – especially photos of people.

When you are the personal brand of your business, the photos of you matter because they allow people to get to know you, your style, and your personality.

Does the thought of having your photo taken have you running for the hills?

I have to admit that I don’t like having my photo taken. It makes me feel very vulnerable. (I’m working on this!)

But much to my surprise, when I had professional photos taken two years ago, I actually had fun!

I want you to have fun getting your photo taken.

I want you to LOVE the photos.

I want your photos to give your audience a glimpse into your unique and amazing spirit, so you can attract a wider audience.

Are you worried that a professional photo shoot will be too pricey?

Today, I’m sharing how to get amazing photos taken on a budget. You can share these guidelines with your photographer, so you know you’ll be thrilled with the end result.

Selecting your photographer

While you certainly can hire a high-end photographer, you can get great photos without spending a fortune.

I met my photographer because she took photos of the children at my daughter’s preschool.  I loved the photo she took of my daughter, so I reached out to her to find out if she had experience taking photos of adults and specifically entrepreneurs. While it wasn’t her specialty, she did have some experience and was able to send me examples.

I like the style of her photos (and her), so I hired her.

Before you hire a photographer…

  • Look at their portfolio and make sure you like their style.
  • Gather info on pricing for the photo shoot and for electronic files of photos you choose. Make sure there aren’t any hidden fees.
  • Speak with the photographer about your vision for the photos and confirm that this is something they’re comfortable with.

Hair, makeup, and clothing

I don’t know about you, but I’m no expert when it comes to hair and make-up.  When I had my photos taken, I knew I’d feel more confident and look more polished if I had my hair and make-up done.

I made an appointment at a local hair salon to have a blow out and make-up application.  It wasn’t very expensive and made me feel much more comfortable having my photo taken. It was fun, pampering, and I felt like a celebrity for the day.

I’m definitely not a style guru, but my best advice is to wear clothing you feel great in and that expresses your style. Try to stick to solids as much as possible. I suggest you have at least two different outfits that you wear during the photo shoot, so you’ll have more variety to choose from.

Style & Mood

Before having your photo taken, consider what story you want to tell.

What do you want your photos to say about you and your business? What do you want the overall style/mood of the photo to be?

Here are some options to consider:

  • Playful
  • Sophisticated
  • Modern
  • Spiritual
  • Down to Earth
  • Bold

Be sure to convey this to your photographer.

Poses, location, and composition

Be expressive

Don’t stand still. Move around. Gesture. Smile. Look up. Point (perhaps up and to your left as if indicating a sign next to you). Shift your weight. Look over your shoulder. Be yourself. Relax. Have fun.

Have your photographer circle you to find other angles, including a high or low angle.

Hands are expressive. Add interest and personality to a photo by keeping your hands within the frame. It can be difficult to know what to do with your hands; it doesn’t hurt to practice a little in front of a mirror. Consider an appropriate, simple prop but don’t force it.

Ask your photographer to take a variety of shots including:

  • Sharp, in focus
  • Selective focus (where one plane of the photo is sharp but the foreground and/or background is in soft focus)
  • Close up shots that show small details in focus (a necklace, textured fabric, shadows and highlights) to add interest.
  • Full body shots
  • Off center composition (these work well for Facebook and website banners, which generally require very wide, horizontal photos). Allow for space to the left or right of your photo so that a headline can be added to your photo. The background should be simple, not busy, in order to be able to add text.


If your photographer can take your photo outdoors, that is typically ideal. Indoor photos against a plain backdrop or in a setting that relates your work (such as in your kitchen) are also great. Keep the background simple. If there’s something in the photo that doesn’t contribute to the subject, something that’s distracting, remove it. Or choose a different camera angle.

How can you put all of these pieces together to create photographs that represent your unique personality and brand?

To illustrate this, I’ve pulled together a few photos from our clients and colleagues. I love each of these photos because they beautifully capture each woman’s essence. All the photos express a personality and they each utilize different photographic approaches.

amymarzluffAmy Marzluff
Casual. Thoughtfully happy. Approachable. Black and white. Interesting camera angle. Not looking at the camera. Outdoors. Out of focus background.
juliesantiagoJulie Santiago
High key. Outdoors. Breezy and Fun. Sunny. Approachable. Interacting with the location. All natural, wholesome.
Liz Brazier
Take charge attitude. Direct look. Confident. Approachable. Sophisticated outfit and pose. Limited color palette. Asymmetrical composition, three-quarter length shot, her body makes an interesting shape within the frame. Simple white background, studio shot.
tinapaymasterTina Paymaster
Friendly. Soft lighting, location sets a soft tone. Sophisticated. Seated. Simple white dress on a more complicated background. This shot is more of a portrait than some of the others.
Tina Paymaster
Black and white. At work in the kitchen, activity, action. Not looking at camera. Not posed. Appropriate location. Concentrating, thoughtful. Three-quarter length. Contrasting lighting.
rebeccareeserRebecca Reser
Close up, very tight crop. Fun in an understated way, approachable, casual. The tilt of the head is great, happy. Earrings add interest. Outdoor.
Direct look. Nice portrait. Very natural.
maricarmenpizarroMari Carmen Pizarro
Fun, almost teasing. Great use of props. More posed than others. White studio background with colorful subject matter.
andreanakayamaAndrea Nakayama
Full length shot in a beautiful room. Backlit photo gives a magical, atmospheric feeling. Harmonious colors. Interesting pose. Approachable, confident, wholesome.
ninaNina Manolson
Monochromatic. Soothing, spiritual. Close up, head and shoulders shot with hands in the frame. Intimate. She looks knowledgeable, trustworthy. Studio background.
marciemauroMarcie Mauro
Laughing. Confident. Self-assured. Very expressive. Jewelry and shirt add interest and color. Close up. Interesting angle, not looking at camera. Nice contrasting lighting, highlights and shadows.

Now it’s your turn to share.
If you’ve had your photo taken, I’d love to hear about your experience and I’d love to see your photos (share links if you have them). If you haven’t had photos taken or are thinking about getting new ones taken, what story do you want them to tell?

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