Freelance SEO Glamour: Our Brand Photos Tips

pragm agency : couple working together

Ever try to see what an SEO freelancer looks like? Let me give you an idea: two disembodied hands on a laptop in a random coffee shop. That’s not us. We wanted something more representative so we opted to have photos taken for our website. Selfies at the beach in Hawaii or cropped coworking shots in a crowded Viennese rooftop bar aren’t really what I want for our branding. My face ends up on the internet a lot more than I previously thought. I decided professional shots were something of a must. Here’s what the whole process looked like for us as a freelance duo:

  • Determine why you need a photoshoot
  • Define your budget
  • Create a mood board
  • Find a photographer
  • Find locations
  • Gather your props
  • Be at your very best
  • The day of the shoot
  • Get your first edits
  • Share your pictures with the world.

1. Can You DIY Your Photos?

Figure out why you need those photos. Our goal was simple: get pictures for our little French SEO company. Once you pinpoint your why, you’ll figure out what kinds of shots you want and what kind of style you gravitate towards. We needed photos that would showcase our partnership. We are a boutique agency: two Frenchies headquartered in Montreal. I wanted something that showcased our vibe and how we work. I tend to be the more visible of the two so it was important to show a different side of our collaboration beyond conferences, teaching and other high visibility events. Here is what I decided we needed:

  • Conference photos for each of us
  • Images for landing pages and service pages
  • Images with visual cues where we look to the left and to the right
  • Portraits of us working together
  • dog. dog. and more dog photos. We really like our dog.

2. Budget Issues

Invest in yourself. Figure out what your budget is though. These photoshoot pictures are going to last quite a few years and they are complementary to our web design. By the time we need a new website, we should have a new look and be ready to take some new headshots! Prices vary a lot for photoshoots. I honestly can’t talk prices since we traded our photos in exchange for some solid SEO advice. The person who took them is an amateur photographer right here in Montreal.

3. Create A Mood Board

Yes, we went with monogrammed notebooks because nothing screams French elegance like monogrammed notebooks!

A mood board is a collection of pictures, illustrations and colour palettes that reflect the ambience, the vibe of the result you want to achieve. Here’s how to get started with your very own moodboard:

  • Figure out what pictures you like: that part was hard for us. We are two people and couple + colleagues combos are not photographed as often. 
  • Figure out what types of clothes you like: for us it was black because it’s our favorite non-color and it’s easy to coordinate. 
  • Are you standing or sitting: we both tried not to slouch. That was our objective.
  • Are you working? Yes. The answer for us was yes. Except that I work in weird positions and spots. I also gesticulate and shout a lot. Basically….I was made for this photoshoot!
  • Do you have something in your hands? We needed to figure out how to incorporate our work tools in the shots.
  • What colors do you like? Us? We had to have orange due to the hair but also because it’s my husband’s favorite color. The entire website is purple so it’s a nice compliment. 

I used a Pinterest board to get this done. It was quick and easy to search and add stuff on there. This will help communicate what you have in mind to your photographer. It’s a nice kickoff document in my opinion.

4. Find A Photographer (we Went With Word Of Mouth)

orange haired woman and long dark hairedman
We went with someone that made us feel comfortable. She was able to capture some candid shots of two French SEO consultants without falling for generic stereotypes in our industry.

We used to travel a lot so finding photographers was not always easy. We’re not very active on Instagram either so we opted for word of mouth. We asked friends and we asked groups of other web freelancers. I checked a few of my peers out and asked who took their photos for them. I am incredibly picky about what I want so I made sure to work with someone that would get my vibe. It’s not about looking good for me, it’s about giving you a feel for who I am. For Augustin, it’s more of a question of “not looking like a serial killer”. He has an unfortunate history with portraits and squinting in a scary manner.

5. Scout Locations

Your moodboard and local hangouts already give you a few ideas when it comes to location shoots. We ended up by deciding to go with our natural environment, aka our home. It was easier because dogs are not allowed in many establishments in Québec.

Plus, I can’t imagine optimizing websites while taking a long sexy walk on the beach or lounging in an office cubicle.

That’s just not me (or anyone else you want to work with). Sun reflection and neon white glare are things that do not picture well either so eh! I love working from home on my sofa but I know that what makes working from home good for me is my partner. We tend to work in the same space without necessarily having conversations. So we decided to go for a common photoshoot in our office space.

6. Dog, Husband, Computer: Gather Your Props

talented motherfucker office plate
This is a gift from a dear friend. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better prop to scream “fantastic SEO consultant right here”…”future HR liability” depending on who you are.

Familiar objects help give your images more context. Yes, you feel more at ease surrounded by your things but it also gives the photographer something to work with. I know that in our office, we naturally had a few props. I love dinosaurs and shiny things. Knick-knacks are a thing in our house. Here’s what we ended up using under the guidance of our photographer:

  • Our monogrammed notebooks
  • All of my office dinosaurs, including the hot pink triceratops eraser.
  • “Talented Motherfucker” plaque given to me by a friend (best office prop ever).
  • Our dog but she was more of an employee than a prop (she works hard for her kibble you know!).

7. You Gotta Look Good

dapple dachshund in an Ikea chair with toys
Even Mocsing the Dachshund is part of the photoshoot! This Montreal little lady was a grande dame during the photo session 🙂

Hair And Makeup

Do you have colored hair ? Make sure your hair color is not faded. I had neon orange during the time of the shoot. I had to do a few things:

  • figure out what goes with neon orange
  • make sure the other human in the shot was color coordinated somewhat
  • we had to decide how to wear our hair
  • makeup plan was to not look like shit – concealer, highlighter and prayer.

What You Should Do To Prepare For Your #girlboss Moment

husband, wife and tiny dachshund
We absolutely loved the shots we got to take with the dog!

3 Days Before:

  • Work in tech? Do your nails. Trust me
  • Make sure you grab a pair of glasses that don’t reflect the screen too much (if you wear glasses)
  • Pick what you are going to wear
  • #selfcare: sleep, hydration, no alcohol, no shitty food
  • Figure out how you are going to do this with physical distancing.

The Day Before:

  • Get a hydrating night mask. You can use La Neige or Niod but get some gel-like hydrating overnight solution for your face. 
  • Clean all the accessories with a microfiber cloth (especially screens, glasses, etc.)
  • Prepare everything in one spot or in a go-to bag depending on your situation.

The Day of:

  • Are you like me? Did you read my list and think to yourself: “There’s no way I am going to do any of this”? OK, listen good. Invest in a photofluid vial. This stuff is made by NIOD from the makers of the Ordinary brand of skincare stuff. GET IT. This stuff reflects the light and it works wonders in photoshoots.

8. The Big Freelancer Photoshoot

Photoshoots are not fun for me. As an ex fat girl, I know how horrible it is to discover new folds and bulges after the fact. I say ex fat girl because I have grown into a beautiful fat woman. I graduated thank you very much.

Here’s Photoguide You Didn’t Know You Needed:

Figure Out A Game Plan

Be honest and write down what you don’t like and what you like. This will help your insane amounts of Googling to find ideas for poses. It helps to have a chat with your photographer beforehand regarding this. Be transparent and include them in your tactical approach to dissimulating the tummy in action shots. You might also want to be like Ariana Grande or Mariah Carey and figure out your best side. Find your new favorite profile.

Let The Pros Do Their Job

First there’s random shots to test the light and the other important bits and bobs. Have fun while this is going on: figure out what you are looking for, what poses work best and how to look semi-comfortable in this alien situation. Unless you are an Instagram goddess in which case you already have all of that covered. Keep that checklist of shots you want for your website in mind. Make sure you do them all. Piece of advice: get some landscape shots. Ask for feedback as well to adjust poses.

Still Not Sure You’re Taking A Good Picture For A Freelancer?

  • Work on your laptop. 
  • Get bored. 
  • Tell a joke.
  • Laugh at your own joke because it’s really fucking funny.
  • Take a sip of your coffee now that it’s not burning hot.
  • Write something in your notebook.
  • Grab your phone.
  • Act like you enjoy working on Excel spreadsheets!
  • Sorry, I meant, look like you are enjoying life!

How Long Does A Professional Photoshoot Take?

Our photoshoot took about 3 hours total. It was really annoying towards the end for me. Augustin was simply drained and wanted nothing more than to run away from the camera. Get ready because this stuff is tiring!

9. After The Shoot: Make The Most Of Your Shots

rawring lady with dachshund and dinosaur plushie
This is what Montreal web marketing services can look like 🙂

Normally, a few days later, you should get the first edits of your photos. I know that we had asked for quite a few pictures so we got the first batch a week later. You should always agree on what you want after the photoshoot. In our case, the editing style was discussed on the day of the shoot so I wasn’t surprised to see a few Photoshop edits (mainly to adjust the piss poor light we had that day). Be clear on what you want and what you get. Once, someone tried to remove my wrinkles and I was not OK with that. I looked like a smooth humanoid emoji. No bueno.

10. Say No To Boring SEO Stock Photos And Share!

triple chin threat à la Ricky Gervais
I was inspired by Ricky Gervais’ portrait style

Introducing The SEO Freelancer Unsplash Collection

Now that I have beautiful pictures of myself, beautiful pictures of the dog, of the partner and of the office…it’s time to share them with the world. I didn’t want any of that generic SEO expert vibe in our pictures. So yes, we will be updating our profile pictures on social media, on our website and even making new Christmas cards for the family. But most importantly, we are uniting with Alizée to create our very own SEO Expert Unsplash collection!!