Creating Hot Images of You for Your Brand

In my Video Maestro Makeover sessions, I help entrepreneurs look and sound like the go-to expert in their fields.

It’s a matter of fixing the camera right, lighting, sound, background, and one’s own body to eliminate all the distractors and let people focus on your face (to connect well with you) and your message (motivation to do your call to action).

Most people, however, drop the ball after that and use off-putting pictures of themselves in social media posts, ads, and etc.

Sorry, not the time to be putting out amateurish pictures with so much competition out there.

You want to attract your ideal prospects, not chase them off.

Not a great photographer?  Fine – you don’t need to be.

As a professional photographer on the side, I can share with you some pro tricks to make you look like the brand you’re trying to promote – so your ideal prospects will be drawn to you as the accessible pro you need to be.

BTW, you can always capture a still frame from any of your videos in your editing software by pausing the video on the image you want and clicking the little camera icon.  The problem is that sometimes it’s in the middle of a motion, and also your video quality may not have been super sharp. 

So let me show you how to use your smart phone camera to get the pro shots, and then I’ll share how to pick, crop, and tweak them for various uses.

CHECK YOUR COMPETITION.  Use keyword search in Google to find people doing what you do, and make a copy of poses you like.  Most aren’t great, but some will be shot by a studio photographer who knows power posing.

USE TRIPOD AND PHONE HOLDER.  Set up a tripod with a bracket to hold your smart phone at eye level.  They’re cheap at  Don’t hand-hold…trust me on that one.

USE PROPER KEY/FILL LIGHTING.  No ring lights, no single light, no flash.  You can use all natural lighting if bright enough to get you good color and detail, or get some inexpensive LED box lights on stands and use the daylight (5600 degrees) setting.

Your setup is a simple 2-light approach. You want a main light source in front of you and just to the right or left, and a bit above your head level…then a lesser fill light off to the opposite side a few feet to soften the shadows of your key light.

DRESS LIKE THE PRO YOU’D WANT TO HIRE.  Most folks have gone too casual with the ease of Zoom.  Maybe some of your audience wears T-shirts, but remember they’re looking for a sharp guru, not a surfing buddy, so better to go with what they call “dress casual.”

For men it’s a plain colored shirt, collared, with slacks, and optionally a sport coat.  For women it’s clothes you’d wear to the office vs. a party.  Always solid colors that aren’t too bright…patterns distract from you and your message.  Clothing and jewelry should draw attention to your face and not compete with it for that attention.

GET SOMEONE TO TAKE THE PICTURES.  Doesn’t have to be a photographer, just someone who can make sure you stay in frame and save you tons of time from not having to use a timer.

SHOOT AGAINST PLAIN BACKGROUND.  Makes it easier to remove the background later.

SHOOT A VARIETY OF POSES & OUTFITS.  For your web site and promoting you as a coach, turn your shoulders 45 degrees right or left and looking at the camera is generally a good look vs. shoulders square. Try it both ways.  Smile naturally (often less is more).  Try every pose and emotion you can imagine…including surprise (“Aha!” Wow!)…never know when it would work in YouTube or elsewhere. 

LOOK STRAIGHT INTO THE CAMERA LENS.  Know where your lens is on your camera and look right there.  Studies have show that seeing the whites of your eyes engages people, so be sure to keep your eyes alive!

For YouTube thumbnails and ads promoting events and programs, you’ll want pictures of you in a variety of more engaging poses.  Point to one side, then the other, to connect with a title or image in your ad.  Hold your hands open in various ways.  Copy the competitor’s poses you liked.  Do as much variety as possible, in several different sets of cloths, with/without sport coat etc.  

You’re building your library of possible poses and uses, so let your imagination run wild. Chris Nixon, productivity coach, just finished a shoot with hundreds of images, in every imaginable pose, in 4 different outfits, and now he’s cropping a whole bunch of winners to repurpose in every direction in his campaign. That’s how to do it. (Thanks for sharing some with us, Chris.)

PS – Watch out for reflections on glasses.  Raise your light source or tilt your head down slightly if you can.  If you have enough hair, raise your earpieces an inch or two to tilt the lenses down without having to tilt your head.

SHOOT WIDE AND CROP.  Always shoot wider than you think you’ll need.  You may want full shots, so do some.  When done shooting, it’s time to make the picture 10 times more powerful and useful with smart cropping techniques.

  • Find the best shots, digitally make 2 copies.
  • Crop one as a medium shot (waist up)…then a medium close up (MCU, 3rd button down on a shirt usually)…then a close up (CU, called a head shot, more like second button down for the bottom).
  • Eyes are generally 1/3 down from the top and basically in the middle of the shot, even if you’re turned to one side or the other.
  • Leave a little space all around to not look crowded.

LET OTHERS PICK YOUR BEST SHOTS.  You have a preconceived notion of yourself from looking straight into the mirror all the time. Much better to have other people choose for you – a more accurate indication of what would appeal to your ideal clients.

REMOVE THE BACKGROUND.  You will often need a shot of you to lay on top of a background or ad design, so copy your final cropped shots and make the background transparent.  Canva Pro has a simple one-button process that works great.

STORE IN FOLDERS BY USE.  Set up a separate photo file for web site and media…YouTube thumbnails…Event and Program promotion…etc.  Makes it much easier to find the type of pose you want. Save the images as full resolution, and then a second version for the Internet (72 dpi).

With a library of really professional looking images that together build you a powerful and attractive brand, the work of marketing yourself is not a whole lot easier and more effective.

Competition, take that!

If you want advice on your best guru picture, email a few to and I’ll give you my feedback.