Excitement courses through my veins! This guest blog post will be the best Famous Person has ever published!

My heart sinks. I can’t submit my amazing article with a photobombed home picture.

I need a new headshot.


My thoughts outpace my racing heart:

  • How do I find a photographer?
  • Will it cost a lot?
  • I need a cuter haircut. And new clothes. And to lose 30 pounds …

My to-do list spirals out of control like the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. One thing’s for sure: the stress of it all sends me straight to the cookie jar!

If you, too, dread the professional headshot, relax. I’ve gone through the process and lived to tell about it.

Now, you can benefit from my experience.

The First Step: How do I find a photographer (and will I have to rent out my first-born to afford one)?

 If you want the Photographer of Presidents and Supermodels to take your headshot, you’d better hope your kiddo has a strong work ethic. But there are many affordable options for us mere mortals who won’t grace magazine covers any time soon.

Some options I considered:

The Amateur:

My husband is a stellar photographer! But it turns out I’m not always a great subject. (Sorry, Hon!) Within five minutes, I realized hiring an outsider would be far cheaper, and less time consuming, than marriage counseling.

You may have a different experience. Newbie photographers often shadow or assist professionals, and may work in exchange for experience. Likewise, college photography or art students, or artistic family members or friends may be good choices.

Caution: Only rely on Aunt Trudy to take your photos if you trust her professional eye and her expertise, and you can get through a session without strangling each other. (Black eyes rarely show well in professional photos.)


I found several possibilities on Craigslist. But when I’m stressed, I’m not in the mood to deal with Craigslisters. Enough said.

If you choose this option, look out for creepers. If you have even the slightest inkling they’re not professional, they’re not professional enough for you.


Groupon had some spectacular deals! One professional, who usually charges $200, offered his services for only $50 because he had a wedding-free weekend. Had the timing worked, I would have booked him.

The Department Store:

When I arrived at JCPenney for my scheduled appointment, a tattooed and bejeweled girl put me in nine different poses and snapped away. This took fewer than ten minutes.

After another ten minutes, she showed me seven photos and cropped several to my specifications. The quality surprised me, considering how little time the shoot took. One high resolution digital photo cost $50, or three for $70. I couldn’t decide, so I bought them all for $100. (My advice: Bring a friend and choose only one!)

The Professional Option:

A Google search of ‘headshot photographers’ in my area yielded many photographers’ websites. Each showed services offered, how much sessions cost, and photos of past clients.

I recognized some friends in one photographer’s gallery and made an appointment. (I’m sure her photos of a young Demi Moore, or her experience as personal assistant to Laverne and Shirley’s Cindy Williams didn’t influence me at all.)

Before we met in person, the photographer interviewed me and looked through my blog. She encouraged me to bring all the clothes I feel great in (“Seriously! I’ll help you carry them in!”). Her experience helped decide which ones would film well. She applied natural-looking makeup, though I could have come made-up if I’d preferred.

I changed outfits several times, and she snapped photos for an hour. The package cost $225 and included a DVD of all the high-resolution photos she shot.

The Take-Away:

Before you ask the teen next door to snap your photo with his cell, spend twenty minutes researching other options. You’ll likely find something more professional in your price range.

Your Other Burning Headshot Questions Answered

 What should I wear?

Choose an outfit you feel great in. Colors photograph best; avoid busy patterns or textures.

Be sure your clothes represent who you are as a person and as a communicator — different attire may be appropriate for spiritual speakers vs. stand-up comedians.

Will I look good?


But remember: when you arrive at your book signing or speaking gig, the event coordinator should recognize you from your headshot. You want to look like a best version of you, and a good photographer will help you.

What else should I consider?

If you wear glasses be certain they are anti-reflective, confirm the photographer will touch up any glare, or consider borrowing a pair of empty frames from your optometrist.

Ask your publisher for specific requirements for book jacket photos.

But I have so many other questions…

If you have your own version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie snaking through your head, ask yourself: Will this headshot be superior to my current photo — you know, the one from Christmas with my cookie plate and Uncle Herb’s big hairy arm almost cropped out?

(The answer is yes, by the way.)

Stop over at my blog to grab your own copy of the free printable How to Be Sure Your Headshot Captures Your Best You.

And while reading more tips, you just might need a cookie to snack on …

Kendra Burrows is passionate about tending her earthly and spiritual gardens, and encouraging others to do the same. Now that she’s got her new headshots (this one is from JCPenney), she can go back to eating cookies galore. Connect with Kendra (and see her professional headshot) at www.kendraburrows.com.

Writing Tip Newsletter

Join us for encouragement as you write and get Kathi's free 7 Day Platform Plan!

Success! Please check email to confirm.