We need to have a talk. It's pretty important. It's about branding. I'm not talking about logos, I'm talking about your profile image.
It took me a while to accept that my profile image needed to go. For a very special reason, I made the decision to schedule time with one of the best headshot photographers in D.C.. This is an expensive investment, but totally worth it.
What I Learned
1. Look for a photographer who specializes in headshots. If they do weddings or senior portraits, in addition to headshots, they're probably not what you need.
2. Be prepared to spend $500. Yes, for one image. You'll get a ton of proofs to choose from, but you only need one, beautiful image. Prepare to spend between $300 and $500 (depending on the cost of living in your area).
3. Pay the extra money for hair and make-up. Unless you're a professional make-up artist for photoshoots, it's worth it.
4. Bring more outfits than you think you'll need in a variety of solid colors (and avoid layered looks). Remember, only a small part of your outfit will show.
5. Make sure the phototgrapher provides a release that allows you to use the photo in any type of media. It may be for your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts now, but one day it could be on your book cover. Most headshot photographers will already know this--especially if you tell them you're a writer.
6. Think about your genre and talk to the photographer about the look that conveys your qualifications to write in that genre. If your book is a mystery/thriller, you probably don't want a big, glowing smile. If you're a children's author, you don't want to look menacing. There's a great post by Standup Books about what makes a great author photo.
My Before and After
Big thanks to the magic of Tim Coburn for this amazing experience.