Everyone needs to have a few really great (and current!) photos of their mug to use on LinkedIn and on other digital profiles. Here in New Orleans, there are plenty of Meetups where I’m interacting with people who could become my customer some day, and I want to have an accurate picture of myself. If you have an outdated photo of yourself on your LinkedIn profile or worse, a photo of you and friends where you’re cropped out, you’re losing trust. If I was hiring you, I wouldn’t want to see you on the beach, with a red Solo cup in your hand, or in your bathing suit. I’d want to see you cleaned up, dressed well, looking confident. If I can’t meet you face-to-face but I want to hire you, I need to feel like I can trust you.

I offer my Tulane students a single evening to join me in a park for headshot photos. We have fun, let loose, and they get a few great headshots by the end. It takes about 10-15 minutes per student once I have my equipment setup. The students show up in the park with professional attire (some wearing suit coats and gym shorts) and I snap photos of them from their shoulders-up. Classic headshots, nothing fancy. After the photos are taken, I bring them into Adobe Lightroom and crop as necessary, add a little vignetting and white balance. It’s all a very simple and straight forward process, but what I deliver the students allows them to be more confident in job hunting.

Many people do not know that there are dozens of photographers in their local area who are looking for models. Many are even advertising that they’ll pay for models, so they can improve their portfolio, try out new ideas, and get honest feedback. This is the secret if you’re bootstrapping your headshot! The term used on websites like Craigslist is “TFP,” or “Time for Prints.” Sometimes also written “Prints for Time” or “PFT,” models offer their time in exchange for prints.

Maybe you’re thinking “I’m not a model!” and you may be right, but experience is experience for photographers! In photography, there’s the art of taking the photo and the art of posing the models to make the photograph exactly what they have in their minds eye. Let them hone your skills and expect them to be a bit rough around the edges with their dialog. They’ll be new to posing and modeling possibly, but they will be excited for the experience.

A great way to really help the photographer is to pull together a few friends for the TFP shoot and let them run through a few models. This will increase photos available for their portfolio while allowing you and your friends to all have great prints.

Here’s how to do it:

Run a TFP ad on Craigslist under “Gigs” with a title like “TFP Young Professional Looking for Headshot by Photographer, New Orleans.” In the description, say that you’re a young professional looking to break into the industry you’re targeting, and what you need. Explicitly state you are looking for a chest-up professional headshot to use on LinkedIn. State the times and dates you and your friends are available, and make it clear it’s TFP. You’re offering the service of being a model, it’s a fair trade.

If you’re feeling generous, consider buying the photographer a meal while y’all are together. It’s a small gesture, but it can help offset their hard-costs of travel.

Once you’re able to save a few hundred dollars up for a professional photographer to take your photos, jump at the opportunity. Talented photographers that commit their lives to photography can do some amazing things with a camera and your profile picture will be improved because of it. Having a headshot ASAP is important, but budget for a professional set in the near future. You’ll look more professional and be able to demand the attention of those you want to speak to.

Here are a few examples of photos I’ve taken of my students. Add these to your Craigslist post as an example of what you want, or any other photos you can find online.
Student portrait photographer

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