Ever seen those LinkedIn profile photos where there’s a bodiless arm around the person’s shoulders or the person is posing on the beach with a tropical cocktail in hand? Or maybe you have a photo like that. In that case, it’s time for an upgrade.
As a creative professional, you might think, ‘To hell with all the bio photo rules—I’m an artist!’
Well yes, but to be taken seriously by the people who want to give you money to break the rules, you still need a solid, professional bio photo for your website, social media platforms or business card. You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t use selfies, vacation photos, or photos where you’ve photoshopped your ex-boyfriend out because that’s the only one where your hair looks really awesome—and obviously your hair is what’s going to attract clients.
But even with a high quality photo from a professional photographer, how do you make yourself stand out? How can you truly express yourself? If you’re a travel writer, do you need a dramatic foreign city in the background? If you’re a musician, do you need your gear around you?
Simply put, no.
Jeremy Miller, president of brand building agency Sticky Branding, points out that “your bio photo is you. Props or location are not the point. The point is to portray you–in a simple, authentic way that connects with your audience.”
What you can do is vary how you dress and accessorize. A travel writer in a tux doesn’t make sense, so you should dress the part and present the person your audience (potential clients) expects to see.
And while you don’t need an exotic background for your bio photo, you can still choose to be creative about your location. “Studio shots are effective but only give you one option. You can take some striking photos in the right environment,” Miller says. Just don’t take your photos outside at night or inside at the club where you are DJ-ing.
You may not feel inclined to drop a lot of cash on a pro photographer and instead opt for using the cool camera you just bought or your iPhone. But chances are that a smart phone photo will still appear amateur.
“As photographers will tell you, ‘Having a camera in your iPhone doesn’t make you a photographer.’ I recommend hiring a professional photographer for your bio photos. A great photo is dependent on the lighting, setup and skill of the photographer,” Miller says.
And what if you yourself are a professional photographer—can’t you just use a selfie for your bio photos and get it over with? Well, not really. Miller believes that your bio photo is not your art—it’s your symbol.
“It’s a way for people to know you and identify with you. A photographer shouldn’t confuse that their bio photo has to be representative of their art. The same advice applies to photographers–hire a professional to take your photo. You need someone else’s eye and skills to capture the best version of you.”
Take a look at the bio photos of other creative professionals in your field. Get some ideas, play around with outfits and locations, ask friends for feedback. As long as you keep it simple and honest, you can’t go wrong with your bio photo.