Things you can do to make your portrait turn out better. Regardless of who shoots it. Whether I do it, another photographer does it, or you have an acquaintance do it. Some people have a favorite photo of themselves that happens to be very good purely by accident. Those are great when they occur, but can be maddeningly difficult to recreate on demand. In any case, these tips can help.
1. Get your hair done beforehand. Make sure a few days have passed. Any new hair style or cut takes a bit of time to settle in. Afterwards is too late and you wasted your money.
2. Who’s your audience? You need a portrait that appeals to them as well as you.
3. Wear a favorite outfit. If you think you look really good in it, then you will.
4. Know your likes and dislikes from previous portraits. Tell the photographer ahead of time or when you’re about to shoot. It avoids them inadvertently repeating something you hate (they’re not psychic).
5. Think about what kind of style appeals to you–conventional, casual, reserved, contemporary, avant-garde, photojournalistic, rock ‘n’ roll album cover, retro, and so forth.
6. Look at the photographer’s previous work. See that they’re comfortable working with people. People can be quirky. You have to work with all sorts of people.
7. If you spot some other portrait you really like, save it and use it for inspiration (not imitation).
8. Shoot plenty. Shoot a range of smiles & expressions. Sort it out when viewing on the back of the camera. Be ruthless in editing out the not-so-good ones. It’s not like you’re wasting film or anything.
9. Be sure to get Photoshop work done on the one you pick. Soften lines, take out stray hair, remove temporary blemishes, etc. Everybody needs it.
10. Hire a good hair and make-up person to come to the shoot, they know what looks good for the camera.
Bonus tips–STRANGE things to avoid:
1. A photographer who still uses film. It has no advantages. It indicates a reluctance to move forward. Clinging to outdated methods probably means other aspects of their procedures are weird, too.
2. A photographer who picks which photo you can have. I’ve heard people’s stories about this. Makes absolutely no sense at all.
3. Being told to cock your head in some unnatural anatomical position. Or turning your shoulders one way and your head 180º the other direction. It looks stupid.