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How to Prepare for an Author PR Photoshoot

By Kim Vermaak &  Hush Naidoo

PR photos are something we think of celebrities and politicians. But an author PR photo is essential. These are the photos you will use on your website, social media pages, Amazon Author page, in your book and for any press releases, you will send out about the book. 

The average author wants to run for the hills at the thought of public speaking and a camera flash accentuating all their perceived faults. That is why we have come up with the most frequently asked Author PR photos to help you prepare for one of the best assets in your marketing tool kit, your PR photo.

Can you smile in a PR photo?

A warm smile to me helps the person relate to the viewers of the image, shows comfort and a want to belong to the reason for the image 

Where should I get my PR photos taken?

Where to photograph a PR image depends on what the use of the image is for … so say an author of a book on Trains, I would photograph at a train or in a train, similarly a book on plants to be photographed in a garden, a painter with their paintings, HOWEVER a PR corporate shoot could be done in a studio or a boardroom. There has been a trend lately to shoot PR images in a more relaxed setting, for example – on the stairs, a large window backdrop or at the person’s desk.

Q: Must I wear makeup for the photoshoot?

Make-up is essential, but I stress we need a professional makeup artist as they understand we need the makeup to be as natural as possible. It is there to enhance. As we can see, we added anti shine to the guy to help eliminate the shine.

Photo by Hush Naidoo

Q: What do I do if I don’t have a makeup artist for my author PR shoot?

This is tricky as well. If the person can do their own makeup, that will work. The photographer will be able to point out if it is too much. For the males, some photographers carry neutral anti shine.

Q: Why is a shiny face a problem for a photoshoot?

A shiny face in a PR image is not flattering, it creates blotches on the face

Q: What is anti-shine?

It is transparent powder to help get rid of any unwanted oils, shine and sweat on any skin colour. It gets applied with a small brush.

Q: What should I wear for the photoshoot?

Plain colours are your best choice. Patterns or prints distract and date your photo. Choose mid- tone colours in blue, green, wine and purple because they are universally flattering. 

Light Skinned Authors: 

Avoid wearing tops in flesh tones (cream, beige, pastels, peach or yellow) as they will blend your face into your clothes.

Dark Skinned Authors:

Your skin looks great with a variety of colours, including: white, khaki, dark purple or plum, red, grey, light blue, orange, gold, or pink.

Avoid black, navy, dark brown, and light green as these colours tend to clash with your skin tone.

Q: What are the best poses for a PR photo?

Poses will be determined by the photographer, as and depends on the Author and subject of the book. A fiction book may have the author in settings similar to the book. A lot of non-fiction authors shoot in a studio setting .

Photo by Hush Naidoo

Q: My phone takes a decent photo, why can’t I just take the PR photo myself?

Our phones do not have the pixels for the image to be used in PR situations. Photos taken on a cell phone are best for social media, but for book covers and print media, we require a high-resolution image. Also, good lighting and an understanding of the poses helps one capture a professional image.

Q: Can I get my photos touched up?

Most photographers edit the images to be print ready, some people use apps on their phones to further enhance the images, WHEN a client does something that a pro photographer normally does not like because it changes the nature of the image. We will do touch-ups to the image, but will keep the essence of the image.

Q: How should I choose a PR Photographer?

Most professional photographers can capture a good PR image. I would suggest that the Author looks at the photographer’s work beforehand and gets references from the photographer .


Hush Naidoo

Hush Naidoo started his career in the photographic industry in 1989 in the CBD of JHB in the darkroom as an assistant, printing photographs, and within a year, he was the head darkroom technician. Learning to develop and print images in the darkroom has given him the unique ability to understand how to capture moments that evoke emotions in his images. After spending a few years in the darkroom, he started assisting the photographer on shoots, learning how to use studio lights, and posing clients. He soon started taking on assignments on his own, building a portfolio of clients that trusted him and liked his style of photography. 

In 2001, Hush started Jade Photography, and he spent a year in the studio shooting products for an online company. Thereafter, he started shooting high-profile events for clients. The list is extensive, but to name a few. Hush travelled to Mozambique on an assignment for Bill Gates foundation; he photographed for MultiChoice, E-TV and SABC. He worked on Miss SA, SAMA’S, The SAFTA’S. Hush has the privilege of working with all 5 of our Presidents, even being chosen as social media photographer for President Ramaphosa’s presidential roadshow, Madiba, where he captured images for the Nelson Mandela foundation. He worked on various shows for M-NET and SABC, Front Row and ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire’, where he captured the image of the Million Rand winner. This photographer to both local & international celebrities, like Will Smith, Oprah, Hugh Masekela, Elton John, Diana Ross, has shot for many magazines and newspapers. Hush’s favourite assignment was the Jet Community Awards that he worked with for 5 years. He got to travel all over SA, Namibia and Botswana, capturing images of various community projects. 

Hush does not just shoot an image for the sake of it. He captures images to evoke emotion. His abilities to bring the best out of people is a skill he has mastered over his last 33 years in the industry. He strongly believes that you see the image in your heart before you capture it with your head. Photography is an art, but it must be a passion and a love. Yes, you can learn all the technical skills about photography, but if it is just a job you will never love, it becomes tedious. Waking up every morning is a joy for Hush. On assignment days, you will find Hush geared up early in the morning full of creative ideas for the shoot.

Professional bodies that Hush is a member of:  (SAPP) South African Professional Photographers ,SAFREA – Southern African Freelancers’ Association, APVF – African Photographers and Videographers Association

PR Photo by Hus Naidoo - Black and Yellow ADE3354
Photo by Hush Naidoo
Light Bulb by Hush Naidoo_MG_9128

Local Indie Authors Hush Has Photographed

1 thought on “How to Prepare for an Author PR Photoshoot”

  1. self publishing
  2. I always used pics I’d taken myself as PR pics. The difference in quality between those and the ones Hush took are indescribable! Not only do I somehow magically just look better, but the colours are brighter and sharper, and they have a far more professional feel. As authors we think so much about marketing our books, we forget about marketing ourselves. Thank you for another great article.

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