Table of Contents

Want 5 quick ways to improve as a podcast host or guest?

Why Podcast Guests and Podcast Hosts Need Good Photos (And How to Take Them)

Table of Contents

How are you doing in podcasting as a guest, host, or both?

In this post, Kendra Swalls explains why you need to have great media-approved headshots and other marketing photos of yourself and how they will help set your brand apart. Whether you’re a podcast host or a podcast guest, having high-quality photos of yourself will immediately boost your legitimacy and set you apart from others in your space. Additionally, Kendra is going to share some simple ways to get great photos, so you won’t have to hire a professional photographer every time you need updated photos!



Read the Blog Post: Why Podcast Guests and Podcast Hosts Need Good Photos (And How to Take Them)

Today we are talking about how to take great photos for your podcast. If you are anything like me, part of the appeal of starting your podcast was that you did not have to put yourself in front of the camera.

You could record these audio episodes in your closet and not have to worry about your appearance or putting your face out there. That’s no longer the case.

Because of social media and the need to market our podcast, we now have to have really great photos.

In this post, we will go over why you need a good photo, how to get it and how to use it, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

Why Your Photo Matters

Podcasting is all about the voice, but often people want a face to the voice they hear in their headphones.

So the first visual contact with you is usually through a photo. Whether it’s a photo in your podcast, on social media, in an email, or wherever you post your photo.

You need a great photo that represents you and your brand really well. That does not mean it has to be professional, but it has to be well done.

No more selfies in a dark room or quick snapshots

It has to be a well-taken photo.

Why are these photos so important? Well, aside from being the first time people connect with you visually, the photos are also a representation of your podcast and ultimately your brand.

These photos will be used on social media, on your podcast art, and on your blog or website. When you appear as a guest on other people’s podcasts or shows, these images are used to promote you as a guest on their show.

Often these photos are also used in your media kits i.e. your One Sheet. Basically, wherever you put yourself out there, you should represent your brand well.

Podcaster posing to take a great photo

Types Of Photos You Need For Your Podcast

There are a couple of different types of photos you want to have in your toolkit of photos.

Let’s go through each of those. 

Traditional Headshot

This is a photo of you with your waist or chest up, smiling nicely, looking at the camera, and making eye contact. While you do not necessarily have to wear a suit or dress, you need to put a more professional spin on it.

Even if you have a signature jacket that you always wear, make sure you put your best foot forward.

Since this is the more traditional headshot photo you will be putting on your podcast pitch, media kit, and your speaker bio photo when you speak at events

Also, remember to make eye contact with the camera. There’s something to be said for looking at someone’s photo and making eye contact.

Studies have shown that this really helps to make a better connection and make people seem more personable.

Podcast Specific Photos

These are really fun to do as a photographer.

I do a lot of brand shoots for business owners and love it when someone tells me they have a podcast because then we can play with the idea of podcast-specific branding photos.

For example, you can bring your microphone into the photo or bring a friend to pose for you as a guest. If you are doing in-person interviews, you can have a guest come in so we can take photos of you interviewing them person.

You could even be a photo of you editing your audio on your laptop.

If you have an office where you have a studio set up, the photos can be taken there.

The goal of these photos is to emphasize the style of your podcast

If you are someone who is very technically inclined and loves the editing process and all the gadgets, you should reflect that in your photos.

What if you are someone who is more laid back and prefers your episodes to be a little more like chatting over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? Show that in your photos.

Don’t be afraid to show off a little more of your style and personality. 

Brand Personality Photos

This is where you can show who you are as a person within your brand.

When you podcast, you often reveal a bit of your personality on your show, whether it’s upbeat and bubbly or calm and relaxed.

Whether it’s educational, funny, entertaining, or whatever the style, photos of your brand personality show that.

I often recommend picking out some fun outfits and accessories that you love to show off.

If you are someone who is very fashion-forward, you should add a touch of fashion to your brand photos

Or maybe you are someone who is always on the go and loves to speak at events, then show that side of yourself.

Maybe you are a city person, then you can get a little more creative and go to places that are more fun and a little busier.

Or maybe you are a country person? What does your daily work routine look like?

This is where your personality really comes into its own. You can choose fun places, bright colors, and cool backdrops.

Image of someone taking photos in a really colorful or cool backdrop
These are the photos that you will post on social media or on your website so that people get to know you even better and know who you are behind the professional side of your work.

Marketing Photos

With marketing photos, you need to keep in mind what their purpose is.

For example, if you are creating a podcast cover art, make sure you position and frame yourself correctly.

On most podcasts, you will have a square image. Are you positioned so that you are centered and have plenty of room for the text? Are you going to be on one side, with plenty of space on the other side? We call this the negative space.

If you are taking photos for episode graphics that show the title and guest names, you may want to sit at a desk with your microphone on the left side.

Then the entire right side is an open space where you can place text and graphics.

The most important thing to remember when creating these photos is the marketing aspect. They should meet the requirements that you have.

How To Capture Great Photos For Your Podcast

Now that you have talked about why you need photos and what kind of photos you need for your podcast, let us talk about how to capture these photos.

Most of us are not going to have a camera crew following us around all day taking photos.

You probably need to know how you can take photos for your marketing on a budget.

Fortunately, we all have great cameras on our phones today.

In fact, the camera on your iPhone is fine enough for everyday marketing photos.

Podcaster taking a photo of themselves with their iPhone on a tripod
For headshots, I recommend you hire someone who can give you a really well-done image that has been edited and retouched.

That will then be the main photo, so to speak, that you post in many of these cases. But for everyday editing or pictures, your iPhone is perfectly adequate.

Actually, lighting is the be-all and end-all of photo taking.

If you do any kind of video, you probably know this.

For example, if you are on a Zoom call or shooting a video, you should never have the light behind you.

The same goes for taking great photos. If you’re taking photos with your phone, position yourself so you have a light source in front of you.

Also, make sure the light is not coming too much from one side, so that half of your face is dark and the other half is lighter.

If you have a large window in your office or home, that’s a great spot.

You can put a white sheet or sheer curtains over it to soften the light a bit. Then put your phone on a tripod and use a timer.

If you have an Apple Watch, you can also control your camera with it.

What if you do not have a natural light source? Invest in an inexpensive ring light and light stand from Amazon.

As a photographer, though, I have to say that I tend to go with natural light. So if you have the option to use natural light, then you should do so

Does that mean you can just go outside and snap away? Not really.

Things you should avoid

First, avoid shooting outside when the sun is brightest. Otherwise, you’ll either look too bright or squint into the light.

The best times to shoot outside are early in the morning or later in the day when the sun is low.

If you really need to shoot in the middle of the day, go to a parking garage.

Parking garages are an insider’s tip for photographers because you get really nice shaded light. Plus, the light reflects on the concrete, creating a natural kind of lightbox.

This is a really cool way to take great photos, especially if you want an all-natural, plain background.

Again, if you are shooting outdoors, make sure you are looking into the light.

We have all seen those photos of people who look like they have a halo around their heads. You do not want that.

So just pay attention to which direction the light is facing.

The best way to do this is with something called the hand test. Hold your hand in front of you with the palm facing you.

Pretend that this palm is your face and look at it. Turn your hand as you rotate your body in a circle and observe where the light hits the palm.

Look for where the light covers the whole palm, just as you would want to see it on your face. Stand there for your photo.

These are some tips for taking photos for your podcast.

Another good option is to ask a friend for help. If you know another podcaster or business owner who also needs photos, the two of you can do a little photo swap and take photos of each other.

What About Editing?

As far as editing the photos, I believe that less is better. You do not have to invest in an expensive editing device or editing software

You can use the basic editing features in Canva. Or get the Lightroom app for your phone if you want to do some more extensive editing.

There are many ways to edit your images without spending a lot of money.

When To Hire a Professional Photographer

So when should you actually hire a professional photographer? I mentioned this briefly when I talked about taking a professional headshot.

Having a professional photo of yourself taken by a photographer will really make you look great, and it will ensure that you at least have a professional photo of yourself that you can use for your marketing.

I also think you can hire someone to come in maybe once or twice a year and take branding photos for you.

They will typically take enough photos and a variety of photos so you do not have to do this on a regular basis.

Look specifically for branding photographers because not all photographers do the same thing.

If you hire a wedding photographer to take your branding photos, you may not get the photos you are really looking for.

So when you hire a photographer who specializes specifically in branding photos, they will know exactly what to look for when it comes to taking the perfect headshots or marketing photos.

Often, branding photographers offer packages because they know that as a business owner, you need continuous content.

Some charge a flat fee where you get two or four sessions a year, giving you enough content that you can use the photos for multiple months on end

So hiring a professional photographer once or twice a year I think is a good strategy. These photos will help you stand out from the crowd.

At the very least, make sure the headshot photo is professionally taken. You can then do everything else with your iPhone.

The most important thing is that you take the best photos so that you have the best chance of marketing and growing your podcast.

About Kendra Swalls

Kendra Swalls is a mom of two, a photographer, and an educator. In 2012 she started her first business, Paisley Layne Photography, and everything changed. What started as a hobby alongside her teaching career quickly became a successful business. In 2017 she left her teaching career behind to run her photography business and start the Girl Means Business brand + podcast. Now Kendra helps busy mompreneurs take their business from survival mode to success mode using the same relationship marketing strategies that have been the foundations for her business success.