Copyright 2014 Deah Curry PhD
I take terrible photos. Even when done in a professional studio, I hate the way they look. You might be in the same boat -- lots of therapists I know are.
In fact, many introverted solopreneurs are notoriously shy when it comes to putting your own photo on your website.
But think about how a lack of photo can be interpreted by a potential client. Are you hiding something? Are you going to be that impersonal and un-giving in a therapy session? Those two subconscious questions could be the reason potential clients call someone else.
You may have been told that a selfie is a really bad idea. They look too casual, some say. They are terrible quality, others say. Both critiques are often true.
But they don't have to be if you know a few tricks.
So yes! You do need a photo on at least your bio page. And you can take one yourself. Here's how to do that with a digital camera or possibly an iPad.
Plain Vanilla Please
First, it is essential to find a plain white wall to stand against. A white wall will blend in with most website and directory page backgrounds, and it is flattering to all faces, skin tones, and almost all hair colors.
In addition to white walls, photos with a boring, neutral background are best. You want all the focus on your smile and sparkling eyes. So beware of picture frames, bookcases, light switches and other wall decor that will seem to be growing out of your head in the picture.
If you've ever had your photo done in a studio you might remember the awkward poses the photographer asked you to assume. They are uncomfortable, but they do make for better photos. Do this:
Turn on all the lights, and add more on your face if possible
Turn on the flash on the camera if you have one
Stand with your back flat against the wall
Hold your camera arm out as far TO THE SIDE as you can
Hold camera at your eye level or slightly higher
Turn only your head to face the camera
Tilt your chin down and over your shoulder
Pull your other shoulder back to the wall
Smile and click the shot
Review and adjust your pose and camera angle, and shoot again
Take several like this, with your camera at slightly different heights. Then try to use the other arm, with your face turned the opposite way.
We all have a better side. It's the lighting, the plain background, the pose, the close cropping, and the camera angle that turns a selfie into a decent photo for professional use.
Refinements can be made with the free tools at PicMonkey.com. My photo for this blog was done standing next to the front door of my condo unit. The walls are actually soft green, but the photo came out looking more blue. For some versions, PicMonkey helped me wash out the background entirely.
I used an overhead light, and dragged into the hallway a torchiere, propped on a chair in a way that the light was directly on my face. When I found my good side, I changed clothes and glasses several times, to get a couple variations. This version is the only photo of me ever taken that I can actually stand. LOL
It may take many tries until you get a great selfie that can be used for your professional image, but it's worth the effort.
If you didn't know, would you think I was standing next to the door to my condo, holding my own camera for this picture?