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For everyone from college to retirement, an updated headshot keeps you relevant in the working world.

Headshots are a professional necessity as important as your resumé, LinkedIn profile, and interview skills. While most jobs do not ask for a headshot (or even legally cannot ask), if you have a LinkedIn profile, they will see your profile photograph. Just like your resumé, your headshot gives a first impression to your potential employer or business partners, and a professional headshot versus a cropped group photo or selfie can instantly show your professionalism in the workplace, as well as a bit of your personality.

There are a few times in your life when you absolutely need a new professional headshot and I am here to help you prepare for those moments.

#1 - College internship seeker

Your (maybe first ever) professional headshot is an important one! You are likely young and starting your LinkedIn profile from scratch. Set aside some money (or save monthly during freshman/sophomore year) to hire a professional photographer to capture your headshot. It is also possible your college is offering a headshot session for a reduced rate, be sure to sign up for a slot. This is an investment that will last you a few years and have a lot of eyes on it.

A few tips for your college (and all) headshots:

  • Be sure to pay for at least two images, sometimes a photographer will give you a dark and a light background, or a studio and an outdoor session, or simply offer two poses like straight on and quarter profile.

  • Wear a solid colored top, no pattern. We want the photograph to focus on your face, not your outfit. Keep it simple, and semi-professional (a suit or blazer is not necessary at college age).

  • Smile — practice in the mirror before your session, do you like a certain smile more than another?

  • Know if you have a side you prefer of your face. We only see ourselves in the mirror or selfies — have a friend take your photo with their phone and help you determine if you have a preference which usually has to do with the way your wear your hair or the symmetry of your face.

  • Deep breaths, the photographer will make your comfortable and a headshot session is usually very very quick, it will be over faster than it took you to get ready.

  • Save your headshot files in multiple places with keywords that you can search your computer easily for them, these are not something you want to lose or screenshot later.

#2 - Remove the cap & gown

Congratulations, you graduated from college or a masters program, it is time to go out and find a role which also means it is time to update your headshot. You likely have aged since your first headshot in freshman/sophomore year of college and you want to look "old enough" to resumé reviewers (many have unconscious bias towards age even for incoming roles).

A few tips for graduate headshots:

  • You can dress a bit more professionally, which may vary depending on the career you are entering. A tie, suit, blazer, or blouse would look nice but not necessary for all roles, however still stick to solid colors in general (a tie can have a soft pattern).

  • Look the part — do some research before your headshot session to see what people working at your potential companies are wearing in their headshots on LinkedIn. Be sure to add and message them after you update your headshot.

  • This headshot could last you up to 5 years so be sure to save in the same places on your computer as your internship search headshots and the same keywords.

#3 - Each company, each year

Every large company has an internal email and messaging system, plus people systems that allow others to see a profile photograph of you. Each company 10+ employees should offer annual headshot days for employees to have consistent headshots, for new employees to join in, and for any trans employees to have their identity affirmed at work.

Consistent headshots at companies could be on a colored background specific to the company (mine would be purple, right?), with the company's building or office in the background, wearing company clothing (like the fashion industry) or with the company logo on it.

Tips for companies supplying employee headshots:

  • Keep it consistent year over year, therefore not every employee needs a new headshot every year, only new hires — keep a consistent photographer for this

  • For new hires needing consistent headshots, supply examples ahead of time and day-of so each employee can see how to pose for consistency

  • If you do change your headshots, clear your team's calendars so they are available to all get their headshots taken

  • Have a make-up day in case you have employees out sick or on leave

#4 - Every 5 years

Whether you are looking for a new job, opening your own business, or staying in your role, be sure to update your headshot every 5 years or so. While we don't all age or change much how we look over every 5 year period, it is likely some things have changed like fashion, hairstyles, makeup, and more. Set a reminder in your calendar on the day of your headshot for 5 years in the future to schedule another one.

Are you ready to schedule your professional headshot?

Find a local photographer who can achieve the style you are looking for at your current needs. Are you in the New York City area or Northwest Arkansas? Check out Hannah Golden Photographs for personal or company headshots.

Let me know in the comments, when was your last headshot taken?

A professional photographer's guide to Pet Photography

Plus how to overcome the task of getting your pet comfortable with and to look at the camera.

How many photos do you have of your pets? I am sure the answer is infinite because we all take pictures of our loved ones, especially our dogs, cats, etc. all of the time. Your phone's photo app is full of pet photos from them sleeping an adorable way, doing something silly, playing, and more.

But how often do you get photographs WITH your pet, not just of them? And are they almost all selfies? If you have another family member take the photo, how often does your sweet pet look at the camera? I am willing to bet maybe once, but most likely they are looking at you beside them, not the other person.

As an example, let's picture a scenario — you are sitting on your sofa with you pup, cuddling and loving each other. Your partner/roommate/child/friend/parent/guardian/other-fabulous-person walks into the room and sees this cute cuddle time and wants to get a photograph of you and pup. The best photographs of living subjects feature their eyes, so your person calls the pup's name to try to get the pup to look at the camera. Pup may look once then back at you. Pup may move from the cute position or leave to go greet the other person. Pup may not be interested at all. Your person may have gotten one or two quick snaps, if they were lucky. So what do you do?

The easiest solution is to hire a professional pet photographer to get those perfect photographs of you with your pet, but until then, here are a few tips on how to get the best photos with your phone of you and your pet. Plus you can use these tips when you do hire a professional too.


Professional Pet Photographer's Tip #1 — Patience

Do not pick up your pet and hold them or place them on your lap if this is not normal for you.

Do not run after your pet to try to get them back after they leave the photo session.

Do not drag your pet or move them unwillingly into place.

The key to getting the best photographs is patience.

Patience to allow your pet to come to you naturally.

Patience to let your pet have a break from photos and get a snack, water, or a nap.

Patience (and flexibility) to photograph wherever the pet is safe and happy rather than going to a dedicated space.

Patience is also key in getting a pet to look at the camera.

Pets tend to face towards their owners, not away (which is where the camera is). Some pets, like super smart pups, are easier to get their attention to the person holding the camera rather than the person holding them. However I have cats and can tell you, it is NOT easy to get a cat to look anywhere specific at all. Most people tend to ask pets to look somewhere by calling their name or forcing their face towards the camera, but patience is key in letting them look at their own pace and desires.

I suggest wait for you pet to be ready and happy to look at the camera (with some additional tips up your sleeve).


Professional Pet Photographer's Tip #2 — Go To Your Pet

All pets have their favorite places to play, to nap, and to feel safe. Note these before you grab your camera.

Instead of letting your pet come to you, go to them where you already know they are happy. Do they have a favorite chair or bench to sleep on? Do they not like to be held but love when you are on the floor with them? Do they like to be in a basket, on the counter, or in a pet bed?

Setup your space around where they are happy. If you can clean up the area behind their favorite space for it to have minimal distractions, your photo will focus more on your pet than the home items behind them.

Once your pet finds their favorite safe space, pose by them and rejoice in the perfect, happy setup of your pet and you.

Need them to look at the camera or know how to pose with them? I have got you covered below.


Professional Pet Photographer's Tip #3 — Eyes on the Prize

Gather your pet's absolute favorite toys to bring to the photo session. Have your camera person hold up your pet's favorite toy and your pet's eyes will immediately find it (located by the camera). I suggest toys that make noises or lights, something flashy or their favorite to play with (but does NOT make them move like something they play fetch with).

Also have treats on hand to reward good behavior. If you have the camera person hold the bag of treats and shake by the camera, this starts the connection of treats to camera. Have your camera person carefully approach, offer a treat where the pet is located, and retreat for a photo.

Catch eyes, reward, photo, repeat.


Professional Pet Photographer's Tip #4 — Poses with Your Pet

You have a few options here depending on your pet, however key to all photos with your pet is to interact with them.

Pet them calmly, give them head scritches, nuzzle into them with your face, kiss their head, your face on their belly, anything that you usually do and is not out of the norm. Do NOT upset them by doing something new, you want to keep them as calm and happy as possible.

Pose One: If you followed Tip #2, you are with your pet in their favorite place. The best poses are when your face is close to your pet's face. If your pet is on the ground, you go to the ground. If they are on a chair, you kneel beside them. Your head should be within one foot of their head.

Pose 2: If you have a super smart or calm pet and did not need to follow Tip #2 and are able to hold your pet wherever you want to, then you have more pose options. Remember to always keep their face within one foot of your's—the closer and more touching, the more the connection and love is shown between you both.

Pose 3: A calm pet or one that you are silly with all the time will be able to be silly in photographs. Can you hold the pet in a unique position like a baby, like the lion king presentation, on your shoulder, or something else that you feel is quirky to you both? Highlight your relationship with these fun poses.

As always, listen to your pet's needs and do not push if they are uncomfortable. Breaks are great. And always treats as thank them for being a model.


Professional Pet Photographer's Tip #5 — Hire a Professional

Awesome, you have practiced all of the tips above and have gotten some fantastic photos (hopefully) with your pet. Were they exactly what you wanted or do you want more? Were they all solo shots and you want photographs with all of the humans or multiple pets in your home? Tried a tripod and realize the pet doesn't look at the camera or gets bored easily? These all may require a professional to come in.

If you have already been utilizing the above four tips, your pet will be ready for a professional to come in and get new photographs with you.

When you hire someone outside of your family and friends, you should add in time for the pet to meet and TRUST the photographer, the professional camera, and any other photo gear your photographer may utilize like reflectors, lights, and more. Plan for a pre-session meeting in which your pet meets the photographer and understands they are trustworthy and the person that gives a lot of treats. Then when your photographer returns a few days later, your pet is ready to look to your photographer for treats.

Your professional pet photographer can also create custom artwork of your pets like macro photos of your pet's nose, eyes, paws, and more. They can also help you with printing high-quality artwork of you and your pets on canvas, metal, or wood, as well as framed prints, albums, holiday cards, and more.


Looking to hire a professional pet photographer in NYC or NWArkansas? Check out Hannah Golden Photographs at for custom photographs in your home with your pet.


Share below in the comments your favorite tips or how these helped you get great photographs with your pet.

Are you usually looking at your calendar, watching the days go by while sipping your favorite warm seasonal beverage, and thinking "ughhh I have to get my holiday cards out TODAY or they won't even make it on time..."

Ya, me too.

Do you want to avoid that feeling of dread this year in November? In December? Here are a few ways to help avoid the stress, starting with planning NOW.

PRO TIP: Bookmark this tab to easily come back throughout the process.

*Dates proposed are if you start today, August 14.

1. Make your list & check it (yes...twice)

An obvious place to start, but did you know you should start in July? How are you doing, already behind?

Don't worry, me too. It is easy to catch up here.

Let's set ourselves a deadline together. Can you make this list in 1 week?

Complete your list by August 20.

PRO TIP: Make this list directly into Excel if you are starting from scratch, it will help in Step 2.

2. Annual address roundup

Congratulations, you made the list. Now it is time to gather their addresses. Hopefully you have a list from last year (or like me, from your recent wedding). Dust off this Excel file from the archives and check in.

I have a system that I want to share with you to quickly organize an existing Excel.

If you don't have an archived address list, keep reading, I have tips for you too.

Color coding — highlight your Excel file into three categories:

  • Have any of your friends and family moved? Highlight them in red.

  • Anyone you are sending to that you haven't talked to much and need to confirm their address? Highlight them in yellow.

  • Any new friends on the list whose address you don't have yet? Highlight them in green.

Guess what, you can automate updating and receiving addresses! Create a google form that links to your Excel file and have anyone NEW or MOVED fill it out.

Individually follow up with those friends that you haven't chatted with this year with a phone call, it will feel more personal and its an excuse to reach out and say hi. You can still send the link to them after the call so they don't have to dictate their address to you.

And, of course (have you guessed it?), give them a deadline. We can be more generous with their time, give them 2 weeks to get back to you.

Ask your friends & family to send their addresses by September 10.

*If you don't receive their addresses from them by September 10, give them a quick call. Your hard cut off to an address isn't until you order your cards so you can bother the stragglers for a month or so for an address.

3. Research time — find a photographer

Okay, we have people to send your cards to and in the process of getting their addresses. It is time to get the card created!

Start with the photos on the card. Do you have professional images from this year that you can use? Or do you need to schedule a session?

Photographers start booking up their Fall and Holiday sessions in July/August, so this step is KEY to getting your cards completed in time.

Photographs by Hannah Golden Photographs

But how do you find a photographer?

  • Do you have a family photographer that you used this year? Last year? Contact them first if you enjoyed working with them. They run their own small businesses and love to have repeat clients.

  • Ask your friends! Do they have cute family photos on their social media — look at their tags or send them a quick message.

  • Google, our trusty source. Be specific and search "[your location] + [family photographer]" or "[your location] + [holiday photographer]". If you are in a big city or multi-state area, search your neighborhood or county name to find someone as local to you as possible. For example: "NYC UES Family Photographer" or "NYC UES Holiday Photographer."

Reach out to your photographers in the order above until someone has availability that fits your schedule. And budget.

A few things to consider before we talk numbers for the budget and that will help you determine the right photographer for you.

  • How many photos do you want for your card? One single for the front of the entire family? A family photo + individual of each family member? Relationship images of partners, siblings, pets, etc.?

  • Where do you want the photos taken? In a studio, in your home, in a park, or at a holiday themed setup?

  • Do you want digital files just for your card or do you want any wall portraits of these too?

  • Do you want a photographer that will also design your card for you? That will print it for you? That will get your addresses printed on the envelopes for you?

  • Can your photographer turn around the edited photograph(s) by November 10 so you can send your cards to print on time?

Okay, let's talk numbers. TL;DR below

  • Just like with any service, you get what you pay for. Do you want someone who walks you through the entire process (clothing, location, selected images, ordering) or someone that you meet once in a central location who later sends you a link with files to download?

  • Session fee — this varies by your location, but could go from $150 to $1,500, depending on what you receive with the session fee (if anything)

  • Digital file fee — this varies based on the photographer, are you looking for 1 image, 10 images, or the whole session of images? Average anywhere from $50 to $1,000 here.

  • Printed artwork photograph fee — some photographers are print-first meaning they value you having the artwork printed in your home over only a digital file on your computer or phone. This could vary similar to the digital file fee with a higher range to account for how large your photograph is printed (think up to 5 feet long!) — $150 to $6,000

  • Custom holiday card design fee — is your photographer serving you by taking the design off your hands? Great! This can make your life easier for this entire process. Pay them for the service can range from $75 to $500 on average.

  • Holiday card printing fee — is your photographer also printing these for you? Be sure to ask if they can print your envelopes too with addresses for you! Pay for this awesome service anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on how many cards you are printing.

  • Remember, your photographer has to pay themselves (think of an hourly wage like any other job), cover the cost of any printing or other products, and make a profit to support their business and livelihood. How much do you think they are worth or how much do you think their photography is worth?

  • Now add it all up, what do you want to pay — remember, if you are DIY on the holiday cards, you still have to pay for the printing, your time for address labels, and stamps (see later steps)


My estimated cost for your holiday photos (with all of the above in mind) can range from the DIY end of one digital image at $200, to the entire service by your photographer at $500 to $2,500 (if you get a medium sized printed portrait too!).

Now that you know what can go into pricing, find your perfect photographer for your needs. Give yourself 2 weeks to locate the perfect person, and an estimated photography session date for October (because we want nice weather for a session, not sweating in the Summer heat here in the U.S., and you need the edited photographs back in time for the cards to be printed in November).

Choose and book your photographer by September 3.

4. Photography Session (if necessary)

This is my favorite step of the whole process!

Not only are you completing an important step for your holiday cards by getting photographs taken of you and your family, but you are getting custom artwork created of your family at this exact moment in your lives.

I highly encourage you to work with your photographer to not only get the holiday themed photographs, but photograph(s) to be printed as large wall portrait(s) to hang year-round. This is great for a few reasons:

  • If you have children, you are celebrating them at whatever age they are this year and will never look or feel the same again — you love them and showing it with custom artwork.

  • If you have pets, I sure hope you are including them in the photographs too. Pets are too pure and don't get to be with us for very long. Capture them with you in photographs to keep forever.

  • The investment in the photograph is for multiple reasons and your research, getting your family ready for the session, and money is put towards not only Holiday Cards but also a wall portrait that will be an heirloom piece for your family.

Photographs by Hannah Golden Photographs


  • Be sure to plan outfits at least a week prior to the session so they can be ironed/steamed and laid to the side. If you need to purchase new shirts, pants, or shoes, plan ahead by two weeks minimum.

  • Do you or your family members need to get hair cuts prior or updos the day of? Book this the moment you schedule a date with your photographer.

  • Do your pre-cheerleading for the session with anyone in the family who may be hesitant in front of a camera (and a photographer they may have never met).

  • Plan a fun treat (ice cream, anyone?) or nice dinner after the session to look forward to.

Complete your photography session by November 5.

*This date is the latest I would recommend to get your images edited by your photographer, be able to design/print cards, and mail cards on time (with recommended dates in Steps 5 - 7 below).

5. Research round two — custom holiday card design & printing

Okay, we talked about this in step 3 if you will have your photographer custom design and print for you then you can skip and disregard, but if you are a DIYer, this step is for you.

Photographs by Hannah Golden Photographs

There are a lot of places to design and print your holiday cards. When I was growing up, I remember going to Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, etc. and they had computers you could stand at and design your card, upload your own photos via email or plugging in your phone, and clicking print — the holiday cards would be ready to pickup when your shopping in the rest of the store was done. Did anyone else do this?

Nowadays the internet makes this much easier to do at home, curled up on your couch in your coziest clothes, your children or pets next to you, designing while the tv is playing your favorite show (mine is always on HGTV until Hallmark Christmas movies start).

So below are a few sites you can DIY your holiday card designs that you may

have used before (and by no means a full list). My pricing examples below are based on designing and printing 20-25 cards (with the most basic settings and no frills) and does not include tax or shipping. TL;DR below

  • Shutterfly — the classic site to print cheap photos, they offer a variety of designs to add your photos, family names, and send to print. Look at fun foils to add pizazz to your card! Get 25 holiday cards for $84 and look out for sales (I saw 25 cards for $57 when I was researching).

  • Minted — While researching for this article, Minted popped up on Google as an option but when I went directly to Minted's site, I didn't even see cards as an option on the homepage. They are not thinking as far ahead as I recommend, so if you are looking in July/August at their site, simply search "holiday card" or "christmas card" in their search bar. They boast that their designs are created by independent artists, so I love that you as a DIYer can support a small business through a larger company. With a variety of sizes, shapes, and the option for folded or flat cards, you can have a lot of fun here making something feel very custom while using a pre-designed option. 25 cards for $69.

  • TinyPrints — Connected to Shutterfly (as their stationary brand) and Spoonflower (patterns on fabric), you have some fun options on this site including multiple shapes and paper types (which boast "made in America" options that are responsibly sources and Italian specialty papers too). 25 cards for $75.

  • VistaPrint — upload your own design from Canva or Adobe products or use one of their designs, they are known for fast production on a variety of products and offer multiple shipping options to you if you get behind and need your cards 3-day shipped. Two shapes here, squared corners or rounded. They offer 20 cards for $70.

  • Zazzle — If you have never used this site, you can get a 20% off coupon when you subscribe to their newsletter. Also be sure to look for sales if you have already used your 20% off. This is a very DIY site with a variety of options. I once met the founder of this company and loved the way he described the site as the middle-man for anyone to create their own designs on products with less research finding someone to print on anything. This is another site not thinking ahead with holiday cards showing Summer designs in August, but easy to find with the search bar. Choose from multiple shapes and paper types, and get an instant digital download when ordering your prints. 25 cards for $61.

  • Mixbook — same as many we have talked about, with their own designs. Choose all of your paper types, foil colors, and multiple card shape options. You have to create an account before you can start playing with a design on this site. 25 cards here for $78

  • Artifact Uprising — modern, minimal card designs here. They default to no foil and do offer address printing on envelopes for an extra 40 cents per envelop. Decent print quality here as they focus on printing photographs and wedding albums. They offer 20 cards for $58.

TL;DR below

20-25 cards from all sites average $61 before taxes and shipping, without the added fun shapes, foil, paper types, or envelope printing.

This is the most important for timing — design and print your cards by November 13.

*If you print any later, I recommend paying extra for expedited shipping to receive to your home by November 21.

6. Stamp it — holiday edition

One of my favorite steps is to purchase the holiday design stamps from the post office! Each year they commission a few new designs from artists (sometimes artists that I have followed online too) so it always fun to see what is available.

PRO TIP: Purchase your stamps online and have them mailed directly to you (if your mailing address is your home).

You can also find people selling previous year's stamps on eBay and Amazon. Below are a few designs from the past few years that I enjoy.

This can be done anywhere in your timing, but best to be completed by November 6.

7. Trip to the Post Office

My tip in step 5 should have helped you avoid one trip to the post office for stamps, but this trip is a MUST. Drop your Holiday cards in the mail at the Post Office (not in a mail drop box around your town).

Mail is sent faster from the Post Office than the drop boxes.

Mail is safer in the Post Office than in an outside drop box (have you seen the news about people stealing mail from these remote boxes?).

You have the piece of mind that you gave your items directly to the Post Office. You can use the drop box inside the building, you don't have to wait in line.

This is what we were working towards for the entire process, hopefully it is completed by November 27.


  • Have your family help you place cards in envelopes and place stamps on after Thanksgiving dinner as a fun bonding activity (during your food coma).

  • If you did not have your envelopes printed with addresses, you will definitely want help Thanksgiving weekend from those with the best handwriting.

BONUS — 8. Sip your seasonal beverage and relax

You DID it! Yay you, so happy, let's celebrate.

Join me in a Hallmark movie marathon, in your seasonal pajamas, with your favorite holiday beverage (hot chocolate for me).

Thank you family for their help too. Hugs all around.

If you have the extra time, here is your PRO TIP:

  • Create a place within your holiday decorations where you will place all of the cards you will receive — ideas include a bulletin board, hanging from holiday ribbon, within a mini Christmas tree, a menorah with clips for cards — be creative.

  • Place one or two of your cards directly in the center to celebrate your hard work.

  • Post a picture on social media at the end of the holidays to thank everyone for sending their cards.

You DID it! Now time to think gifts, caroling, holiday lights, and so much more. Enjoy!


  • Save this article for next year!

  • Follow me on social media @HannahGoldenPhotographs for the July reminder to start even earlier next year.

  • Sign up for my newsletter for more articles like this one.

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