We caught up with wellness photographer, Hayley Frances to get the low down on how having a professional head shot can enhance the look of your blog, as well as her top tips for taking awesome photos. Hayley was the photographer at the HBC Bloggers & Brands Networking Event in August. You can check out all the awesome snaps she took on our Facebook page.

How did you first get into photography?

I picked up my boyfriend’s camera when we were on holiday with his parents and started snapping pictures of them. I absolutely loved the feeling of engaging with them from behind the camera and directing them to different poses, because, while it sounds corny, it made me feel very much alive. When the photos turned out really well, I realised I was hooked, and started practising taking photos on anything and everyone I could from there.

How can headshots help a blogger bring more authority to their brand?

Understandably, professional photos might not be in the budget at first for some bloggers. However there really is nothing that quite says ‘I’m a professional’ than a set of pro headshots. For brands looking for potential bloggers to work with, professional photos communicate that you either:
a) Blog professionally
b) Are serious about your blog; or
c) Have plans to take your blog to the big time

All of which makes you more marketable.

Professional photos have shareability potential, too. The quality is of a standard that makes you more desirable in the eyes of brands and other bloggers, who may be more willing to share your pro shots on their own websites or social profiles.

Using the same professional headshot consistently across your blog avatar and social media profiles is helpful to build brand authority, too. This is because your profile picture will become easily recognisable to readers and brands alike, when they spot you popping up across platforms.

What are the three top tips when having a portrait picture taken?

  1. Relax and have fun – it will show!
  2. Engage your core: This helps with poise and will flatter your body shape.
  3. Drop your shoulders. Most of us scrunch up our shoulders unconsciously, and there’s a noticeable difference when you consciously release them (if you don’t think you can remember that, don’t worry! I’m constantly reminding clients throughout shoots and I’m sure other photographers do too).

What’s the most efficient way to work with a photographer?

Have a rough idea of your vision before you approach the photographer, so you can explain this to them in your first email or phone call. On shoot day, come as prepared as possible. This means having planned your location, your outfits, have your hair and makeup done and arrive on time. If you’ve really done your research, you might have a list of poses you want to try out based on reference images saved to your shoot vision board.

What are the questions a blogger should ask before a photoshoot?

It’s always great to have as many questions about your shoot for the photographer before it takes place, so you can feel confident and reassured that you’re in good hands. If it’s not already part of their process, ask your photographer if they will spend 15 minutes with you on the phone to answer any questions.

Some photographers also might have guides and documents like my process guide and style and preparation guide, which I created to answer the most common photography-based questions, and also to help my clients plan the details of their shoot so they can arrive feeling relaxed and ready.

A few specific questions, if not already answered include:

  • What happens if it’s raining? Do we continue on or reschedule?
  • Do I need to bring anything specific?
  • How do I credit you (the photographer)? Most people don’t realise that unless the client purchases the rights to use the photographs exclusively (usually an additional fee) the photographer retains the copyright to all photos. For this reason it’s important to credit them correctly when using your photos on your blog and social media.DSC_0784

How can bloggers select the best photographer for their needs?

There’s no single approach to photography, and every photographer has a style that’s unique to them. When you’re looking for a photographer to take pictures for your blog and social media, there’s a few things I’d recommend researching first.

  • Check out the photographer’s website or Instagram account. Do you like their style and photos of other clients? How about the colouring (vibrant vs saturated)? Will their style work for you and your brand? If so, you’re good to move forward.
  • Review their packages. Some photographers like myself offer packages, while others provide custom quotes. If the photographer has set packages, check if it’s going to suit your needs as a blogger, or if they have the option of add ons that you can take advantage of. If the photographer provides custom quotes, ensure you’re happy with the price before you commit. In this case, it’s always best to ask 2-3 photographers for a quote before you go ahead with one.
  • Ask a friend for a referral. If you’re part of a blogger network such as the Health Blogger’s Community, you’re bound to know other bloggers who have worked with a photographer before. Ask around for photographer recommendations and you’ll get a few names that you can then check out.

What is a brief and how does it help in the process?

A brief is a short document that a client (the blogger) may create to give the photographer a clear guide to the style and creative direction they would like.

It also helps to have a clear brief if the client has certain requirements like ‘At least 5 landscape orientation photos for website banner use’ or ‘one portrait with me on the right hand side of the frame’ for any website design requirements they might have.

Photography really is a collaboration between both client and the photographer. If you can explain your requirements clearly, you’ll help your photographer share your vision for the shoot, and ultimately produce portraits that you will love.

What are your favourite tools for taking photos with your camera?

I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos, and would recommend if you want to get a better understanding of your camera and produce better photos, that you shoot in RAW and use Lightroom to edit your photos.

Sometimes I use VSCO in Lightroom, though I recommend learning to use the adjustments panel without relying on presets all the time to really improve your editing work.

The most important settings to understand in my opinion are colour balance and tone (exposure, highlights and shadows), but as you develop it’s great to learn the function of split toning, tone curve and colour too – some of my favourite tools to work with.

What are your favourite tools for taking photos with your phone?

Aside from VSCOcam, I don’t use many tools for phone photos. My best tips for better photos on your phone, however, include:

  • Shoot near a natural light source – if indoors, near a window (especially for food photography)
  • If you’re taking a selfie/portrait indoors, make sure your face is directed towards the light source. If it’s not and the light is behind you, the background will blow out and that’s when your photos look all hazy and fuzzy – not great for the ‘Gram!
  • Shoot in daylight, rather that night time. Phone cameras don’t have great sensors compared to D/SLRs, so there will always be a lot of noise (grain) in after-dark photo.

How can headshots and portraits bring a more personal touch to a blogger’s Instagram account?

Sharing photos of yourself from time to time – even if you’re a food blogger – is a great way to build a more personal connection with the people who follow your account. I’m not sure about you, but personally I’m always curious to know more about the people behind the accounts I follow, and a portrait in both the profile photo section and occasionally throughout the Instagram feed helps me to feel connected with the account holder on a more human level.

Do you have a favourite time of day or location to take your photographs?

Around an hour to an hour and a half before sunset. This is known as the golden or magic hour, because the light reflects differently off the atmosphere; It’s often more golden. Shadows are also less harsh at this time of day and the light appears softer, which is very flattering for natural light photography, which is what I specialise in.

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