10 Tips for a Great Headshot

10 Tips for a Great Author Photo at Summer Conference

Need a fresh photo for your blog or book cover? Once again, the incredible OCW Photography Team of professional photographers Sam Hall and Michael Diehl will be offering a great deal on author photos at summer conference: a 20-minute sitting for only $50!

To make the most of your sitting, here are 10 time-tested tips for a great photograph:

10. BE Refreshed: Schedule your appointment at a time that works best for your personality.Photo appointments will be available all day and early evening except during morning coaching classes.

  • Morning slots are perfect for those who jump out of bed, ready to take on the day. (These slots are very popular, so book early!)
  • Lunchtime slots are ideal for those who like to relax after the lunch break. Use this time to freshen up, go to your sitting, and wow everyone with your newfound confidence.
  • Afternoon slots are great for those who aren’t fully charged until the afternoon hours. Take advantage of breaks between workshops or appointments for your sitting.
  • Evening slots are the night owl’s dream – and another popular option to capture the soft light and beauty of an Oregon summer.

9. BE Ready: What to Wear (and What Not to Wear)

When you’re laying out your clothes for packing, add an outfit that would be suitable for a professional photograph (dress casual is a great way to go). Some ideas:

  • Choose an outfit that fits your style, and can be changed easily if needed.
  • Know what colors compliment your skin tone. This website, from a professional stylist and personal shopper (http://bit.ly/sc-colors), gives some good ideas on how to match colors with your skin and hair.
  • Avoid overly loud colors or busy patterns (plaids, stripes, florals)—they can be distracting. Stick with solid, neutral colors.
  • Try on your outfit beforehand sure the fit is right. Avoid clothing that is “too” – too tight, too loose, too fussy, or too detailed.
  • Remember that Oregon summers can be fickle, so choose an outfit that layers well.
  • Choose understated jewelry that will not detract from your face.

8. BE Comfortable – it’s only a headshot!

With a few exceptions, most author photos are cropped from below the shoulders. Your photographer may include a full-length shot, but for the most part, you are looking for a clean, well-framed, professional headshot as your main author photo. Focus on the upper half of your body when preparing for your photo.

7. BE Yourself! (Darling, you look marvelous!)

As much as we want to look our absolute finest, remember that people need to actually recognize who you are in the photo! Keep your hair, makeup, clothing, etc. close to your usual style – this is not a glamour shot, it’s a professional author headshot, so no fancy hair or makeup is needed.

Mini-tips for marvelous you:

  • Schedule the shoot for a time when you feel at your freshest (see #10).
  • Make sure your face is clean and free of shine. If it’s a warm day, keep a tissue on hand to blot extra moisture that may reflect light. If you’re using makeup, go for a matte powder and avoid any type of glittery/sparkly makeup – they’ll create extra shine on your skin.
  • Add a 5-10 minute window to your appointment and make a restroom visit: teeth clean? Hair brushed? Collar straight? That will also give you time for a quick clothing change, if needed.

6. BE Happy with Your Photo: Your Photo, Your Style

Think about the author photos you’ve seen on book jackets and websites. What was it about the photo that you admire? Was the author smiling? Do you want a dignified photo? Something fun and happy? Warm and friendly? Bring samples from the Internet, book covers, or even magazines to show the photographer the kind of photo you want.

5. BE Open!

You may have an idea of exactly what you want for your photo – remember to be open to your photographer’s ideas and poses. Photographers have a knack for looking at the person and suggesting a terrific pose – don’t be afraid to tell them what you want, and don’t be afraid to also let them give you some direction. You won’t be disappointed either way!

4. BE Flexible – location, location, location!

All photos will be taken on-site at the grounds of the lovely Red Lion Inn at Jantzen Beach, including waterfront shots. Your photographers will work with you to find the best possible place for your photo session.

3. Be Prepared!

You’ll be out there for 20+ minutes, moving, holding still, moving, trying to maintain your brilliant smile – pack a water bottle to keep you going!


  • Try to get a good night’s sleep before your sitting, so you’ll look and feel refreshed.
  • Drink lots of water the day before and the day of your sitting.
  • Before your sitting, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and relax.

2. BE Encouraged!

Remember your first writer’s conference? Did the thought of meeting an actual, real-life editor and actual, real-life writers terrify you? Or did they make you feel like a superhero, ready to tackle anything and everything thrown at you?

Like the real-life editors, agents and writers in the Christian publishing world, our photographers are, first and foremost, people who love Christ, too. They are there for YOU, and will work with you to create your best author photo.

1. BE Comfortable & BE YOU!

Don’t be afraid to smile. At first, it might feel awkward at first, especially being “on the spot” with a camera in front of you. Before your sitting, take a few moments to think about your goals and your readers.

Mini-tip: You and your photographer are working together to show the image that tells your story – in blogs, book jackets, reviews, and countless other venues!

When it’s time for your sitting, remember to smile at the camera. Think of someone picking up your book and looking at the back cover. Show your love for your readers (and your writing) with that smile!

Mini-tip: your photographers are available around the campus – seek them out and feel free to talk to them! Knowing them beforehand will help make you feel comfortable confident at your sitting.

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