Read This Before Getting New Photos


A few years ago, I wrote a popular article entitled Stop Getting Headshots!

While the article is a bit of a Trojan Horse (how you need headshots, but also diverse images for various web and print projects), it still rings true.

Headshots limit was is possible for you in terms of a website design. You’re literally boxed in with 400+ new photos of just your face. This is 100% why I’m now adding “branding” and “photoshoot assistance” into my private client work.

Today, my goal is to teach you how to “show + sell” your product through photography. Think of it as a follow up, and a taste test of what’s available inside my annual Presence program on personal branding and photos that will pay you back!

Anyone can build a website. Not everyone can build a brand. Read this before getting new photos!
— @TonyHowell

Think Product Photos

Let’s start completely outside of your industry. Often, going against expectation (or the status quo) is where the biggest business advantages are. It’s about being different! Think about the innovation and success of Cirque du Soleil, Uber, and Nespresso.

Product photos are typically on a white background and show the product at multiple angles or with different style variations (such as color).

How can you think of your headshots as a product photo? This allows the user to project the “use” of the product onto you, as opposed to trying to push it out to them (or selling “type”).

You multiple angles and “style variations” can include wardrobe, but also whether you sport a smile, smirk, or just open your eyes and allow your soul to be seen.


Think Editorial or Commercial

You can then take the product and show it in specific uses. For visitors who may lack an imagination, this allows them to see your product in their comparable environment.

The different between editorial and commercial imagery? Commercial photography is meant to sell. Editorial photography is used to help illustrate and support a story.

Pro Tip: For artists, I believe this “product in use” comes from the news, photos, and video pages on your website. Think of these areas as a catalog of all you offer to the user, as opposed to a personal scrapbook for yourself. We’ll see your type and range through the vast collections available in these areas.


Think Celebrity Portrait

If you’re in your head thinking that this is great for “business” but not “the business” - then this section is for you!

Especially for actors, I don't think you need to play into type. That is operating at the lowest level of the business: seeking a gig vs. the higher-level and long-term strategy of making a name and career for yourself.

Similar to product photography, I think the “human” version is celebrity portrait style....

It’s often not retouched: allowing your natural, true self to be seen… wrinkles, freckles, and all! You simply allow the vessel to be seen.


Think of Meryl Streep

Bringing this all home, if you google Meryl Streep, you will find classic, timeless, and “neutral” images of the artist in her 20s, 30s, 40s, etc. What you don’t see are the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, etc. Think of her example as you get photographed throughout your career.


If she had an official website (👋 Team Streep), Meryl could showcase her diversity and range through her news, photos, and videos.

Because of her vast body of work, rather than 20 photos from every role, I would rather create a catalog of ONE iconic image from every role… a much more effective sales tool.

The other 19 images can be saved for #TBT or press features


As you get your new photos, or create your brand identity, remember these concepts:

  • You are a product (or a “vessel” for the work).

  • Your face is your logo.

  • You are storytelling and selling with your photos.

Want to learn more ways to tell your story and create better business results? Please join me for Presence 2019! Registration is open until Sunday, December 23rd at 9pm EST. Click here to learn more and read reviews.

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