Author Headshots: An interview with a professional photographer, Madi Twede
Having your first professional headshots taken are one of the moments that bridge the gap between being a hobby writer and a professional. You need something sharp and yet expressive to put on your author platforms, website, and of course the back of your book. While it can be exciting, I also know that it can be intimidating as well. That is why I reached out to Madi Twede, a Utah photographer (and my personal photographer), to help you feel more comfortable and prepared for your next shoot. She has years of experience, so without further ado, let's get focused!
Rachel Huffmire: Madi, I'm so grateful you joined me for this interview. I absolutely love my author headshots and can not recommend you enough to my colleagues. Can you give us an introduction to you and your photography?
Madi Twede: I am a natural light photographer specializing in Weddings! I'm located in Salt Lake County, UT. I bought my first camera second-hand from a local Facebook yard sale page for $200. I originally purchased it to document my little family and our adventures. I bought it from an established photographer who told me "always shoot in manual and practice a lot!". So I did! I shot almost every day. I took pictures of my husband, my birthday presents, the gingerbread houses we made for Christmas—anything I could think of! My husband started me out with a "nifty fifty" lens and my excitement for photography has only grown from there! I started shooting weddings in the Summer of 2016 and have captured weddings, family gatherings, and proposals since then, along with various portrait and commercial sessions.
RH: As authors, having our face printed in the back of a book can be exciting/scary. We all want to look our best. What should we look for when we shop around for photographers? How can we know we're picking a good one?
MT: My biggest piece of advice when it comes to choosing a photographer is to ask for examples of their work. A good photographer should have a sample gallery—or a large portfolio on their website—ready to give to any potential client that asks. A good photographer is not cheap, but it is so worth it! You can know you're picking a good photographer if they have sample portfolios, contracts, and come with great recommendations.
RH: Something I often hear authors ask is "My dad has a nice enough camera. Can I just let my family member take my headshots in the backyard?" What would you tell an author who might be thinking of going this route?
MT: As nice and easy as that sounds, I promise it is worth the money to invest in a professional photographer for headshots! You are worth investing in. Help other people see that by investing in yourself first! Professional photographers have expensive training, equipment, and a trained eye to know what will help you look your best.
RH: How should I decide what to wear to my photo-shoot?
MT: Remember your audience. With any headshot, it is important to remember who you want to see the headshot and what message you want it to convey. For an author headshot, it is important to remember the audience you are writing for. You should try to match this audience through your headshot. As a general rule, I suggest avoiding patterns that draw attention from your face. Avoid neon colors. Where
RH: Some authors have photographs that are very formal, while others are more casual or even comedic. How do I know which direction to go with my own?
MT: Again, remember your audience! As a natural light photographer, I do a lot of my work outdoors. But! This not what is best for everyone. Outdoor headshots usually appear more casual, relaxed, and natural. Indoor headshots in a studio is often more posed and formal.
RH: If I get nervous in front of a camera, what tips do you have for me? I don't want to look stiff or unnatural in my pictures.
MT: First of all, breathe! Express your concerns to your photographer so they can know what to look for during the shoot. I always suggest requesting a consultation for anyone investing in photography services. It is so important to get along with your photographer, and meet them before your shoot. It builds a connection and often times you will feel more relaxed once you've met the photographer in a friendly environment. Trust your photographer and don't be afraid to let them know that you are nervous. Let them help you.
RH: How often should I get my headshots taken?