We can’t stress this enough. NO, the free photo you got from the photo store at the mall is not good enough. NO, the photos from your holiday card with your sister cropped out won’t work (yes, that’s really something someone asked).

Let’s say it like this: a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Trite? Perhaps, but still true. People are coming to your website and bio sections looking for information about you. If your photos are pixelated, dated, sized improperly or otherwise wonky, you’re not making the best first impression.

So how do you get a photo shoot that meets your needs as a professional author, speaker, and business owner?

As the wife of a professional photographer, I have some insight into the mind of a photographer and how you can help make your photoshoot deliver the results you want. I’ve been there when he’s had a shoot go well (sometimes I get to assist on fun projects) AND when he’s been trying to redo a native file to make magic because the client didn’t know what they wanted when the shoot happened. Save yourself time and money and keep your photographer happy.

start with a list of photos you need NOW

Assess the needs of your current website and marketing materials. Consider:

    1. social media bios
    2. business cards
    3. brochures/flyers
    4. website

explain the larger goal when booking your photographer

We recommend: “to create a searchable library of brand-specific -cohesive- images to be used in multiple formats and areas.”

detail the style you want to express

For example, “I am presenting a fun, active brand: photos should reflect that and not be stuffy or overly formal, more photojournalism style rather than traditional “glamour shot” style portrait.


Do you have colors that you’re using in your branding that you want to keep in mind for the photoshoot? Think ahead and share a branding guidelines doc with your photographer (you have one of those, right?).


Since you want the most ROI for your photo shoot, think through all the topics you may want to express visually in the next year or two. What are your two or four main speaking topics? What are the subtopics you address in each important chapter of your book?

For example, when our clients Team Sherzai wanted to create an image library, we broke their topics into the following categories with notes about how we envisioned representing the topic visually:

  • Nutrition (include cooking and prepping shots, include some of healthy options to share with friends and family—could be optimize/nutrition crossover)
  • Exercise (include seated bikes, biking outside, walking outside, walking on beach, yoga)
  • Unwind (include meditation, stretching, tai chi )
  • Restore (include sleeping images, sleeping bedroom set up, Dean in sleeping mask, show dean with favorite pillow, show kids in PJs)
  • Optimize (show family singing together, playing instruments, doing puzzles, social connection with family/friends)
  • Science/Brain Health (hold/use brain model, lab coats, scrubs, stethoscopes, also shoot brain model so that they can use the model as a reference photo to show areas of the brain when needed)

shot list

Once you have your topics figured out, think through some other questions:

  1. Do you ever include your family (or a business partner) in your work?  If so, you should note that you need that topic (Topic 1) in a solo shot and a family shot.
  2. Crop for multiple uses: we recommend that you ask the photographer to take each shot from multiple angles so that you have options to use for creating graphics with text–make sure you’re not in the center of each final picture output.
  3. Create your shot list (specific images that must be captured during the event) from the topics + questions 1 and 2 here.



Need some inspiration for what we’re talking about when we say a cohesive set of images? Check out these Instagram brands for inspiration:






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your photo library: why you really DO need a professional photo shoot and how to get the best ROI with a shot list | The Worthy Marketing Group Blog