• Facebook

    500 K / likes

  • Twitter

    1 M / followers

The Photographer’s Guide To Choosing the Right Bio Picture



Photographers are a narcissistic breed. Not me, of course, but my colleagues are. We’ve got profiles on dozens of websites and we must tell the world what we are doing at our jobs every day and in real-time — we just have to. It’s compulsory.

On all those websites and social media outlets you need a bio picture that identifies who you are as a photographer. One picture that sums you up.


I’ve done them all, from the “I’m not a photographer, I’m a witness” bio picture to the “check out how cool my life is because I’m in this exotic location” bio shot. I’ve made many mistakes through the years and I don’t want you all to have to suffer through the same identity crisis that many in our field suffer from. “Who am I?” you’ve asked yourself many times.

Read on, and I promise you will discover the answers you’re looking for. And most importantly, you will discover who you want to portray yourself as online.

The Documentary (or Personal Project) Photographer

Option 1

First things first, you must go with black and white — this isn’t negotiable. Go for moody light — window light will do — harsh shadows and crazy exposures are welcomed.

Don’t smile at all, you need to be serious and in deep thought to show your serious and somewhat sensitive side. Adding a scarf will definitely up your game.

If you need more references please go to the Magnum website, they are the Magnum of this genre of photography bio pics.



Option 2

You at your own exhibition wearing a vintage camera are also permissible if you are early on in your career.


Option 3

You working on your laptop somewhere, typically a cafe works best and the laptop screen should be lighting your face.


Option 4

A natural moment caught in deep thought preferably pondering your career and the meaning of photography.


The Goal

You need to showcase that your work is more important than you. You don’t care about the money or the fame; it’s all about telling stories. Yes, your introduction to your personal project is 90% about you and your past and your personal struggles and 10% is about the actual story, but that shouldn’t come through in your bio picture.

The Commercial Photographer

Option 1

You on set with loads of gear and assistants everywhere. Be sure to look like you’re in control and that there’s lots going on.



Option 2

Any picture of yourself with lots of obvious Photoshop, use this bio picture to showcase your retouching skills.


Option 3

A picture of all your gear laid out at your studio, at the airport, or in the back of a van. The more gear the better, if you need to rent extra gear just for this shot it’s worth it, more is better.



The Goal

You need to show that you do big shoots for big clients. The more gear, models, and assistants you have, the more successful you will look.

The Portrait Photographer

Option 1

Looking straight into the camera using lighting equipment but hold on, wait for it, this might seem unconventional but you have to have the lighting gear in the frame. Your mind might be blown here but trust me it works. Ok I didn’t have this one handy but the good ole stand-in shot always works too.


The Travel Photographer

Option 1

You have to be in a remote village somewhere, that’s obvious. Surround yourself with children or local people and all of you must be looking at the camera smiling. Make sure only local people are in your shot; if your friend of the same ethnicity is in your shot your image is a failure. You have to create the illusion that this is the first time this village has seen foreigners before. Mention in your caption how hard it was to get to the place you’re in.


Option 2

Similar to version 1 except instead of all of you looking at the camera, all the village children or subject need to be looking at your LCD screen, creating the scenario that this is the first time the person has ever seen a digital camera.


Option 3

You are wearing some sort of local costume and you look silly in it.


Option 4

You next to old person. Don’t ask why, it just works.


The Goal

Your picture has to so say, “Hey, wow, this guy/gal has a cool job and gets to do cool things.” You want to make your friends who work in office buildings hate their life.

The Fine Art Photographer

Option 1

Don’t show your face at all, your bio pic is one of your images. You don’t want to be known; it’s all about your work.


Option 2

If you simply can’t resist and you have to show your face the picture should be abstract and artsy. You can also use this picture for Documentary Photographer (see above).


The Goal

You’re a struggling artist who doesn’t care about money or fame but really you care about money and fame, but you don’t care about money or fame.

The Wedding Photographer

Option 1

The industry standard here is you between a bride and groom making a silly face or with people at the wedding having a good time.


Option 2

A picture of your wedding day if you’re married or a family portrait of your family hoping that the bride and groom think “oh see he/she gets us because his/she is married.” (Sorry I’m not married yet so I don’t have an example.)

The Goal

“Wow, that photographer is so fun and hey look, his clients love him/her because they are smiling and in the shot with him/her.” Or, “Hey that person has been married so they must know what they are doing.”

The Nature/Landscape Photographer

Option 1

You must be in a picturesque area, think mountains, waterfalls, rainbows and such. You absolutely must have a tripod in the picture and bonus points if you are in extreme weather conditions. (I failed here, yes I have a picturesque area as my background but not extreme weather and no tripod).


Option 2

You next to an exotic animal in nature.


The Goal

Whoa, that person takes pictures in extreme conditions and they are pretty extreme themselves. Captions shouldn’t have to portray that it was really cold that day in Antarctica, the picture should do so.

The Street Photographer

Option 1

(No picture here as I don’t shoot with film)

Black and white, a little motion blur, of you with a small camera (preferably a vintage film camera but Micro Four Thirds will do) on the streets somewhere. Don’t you dare have a large backpack and multiple lenses or you’ll be laughed out of town.

Option 2

See Option 3 and 4 of Documentary Photographer.

The Goal

You’re not dependent on gear; you basically just wander the streets with vintage cameras and capture moments. It’s all about old vintage gear and moment catching and letting life unfold on it’s own, man. You don’t care about anything else.

The Photojournalist

Option 1

You must be in a situation where spot news is going on all around you, protests are typically the go to, and you have to be serious with lots of cameras on. This last part is key, if you don’t have lots of ID tags on you’ve failed completely, please try again.


Option 2

You surrounded by mayhem, fire is key.


Option 3

You uploading images from somewhere remotely.


Option 4

You in front a famous publication, this says hey guess what I shoot for these guys.


Option 5

You dressed in some sort of special clothing that showcases you’re shooting something unique. The image should say, “oh no what have I gotten myself into today.”



The Goal

You live life on the edge and when the crowd runs away from the action, you run towards it. You don’t want to talk about it but yes you want to talk about it.

The Celebrity Photographer

You standing next to the most famous person you’ve photographed, done.

(I don’t photograph famous people often so use your imagination for this one.)

The Goal

You are cool because the people you photograph are cool, other photographers should be jealous of your bio pic.

The Extreme Photographer

Option 1

Exotic modes of transportation are a must, the Rolls Royce of shots here is the helicopter shot but I’ll also accept being on the back of a motorcycle, in a jeep, or any sort of ATV, or being in the water. The helicopter shot is also applicable to a successful Commercial Photographer and Photojournalist. It helps if you have cool clothing and tattoos.



Option 2

A fisheye lens selfie at some extreme sports arena or area or just anywhere that looks like you’re doing something cool.

(I don’t own a fisheye lens so please Google extreme sports photographer and you’ll see what I mean.)

The Goal

You shoot extreme and shoot really wide and you too also like to participate in extreme sports.

The Photography Instructor/Celebrity

Option 1

You on stage giving a talk or out in the field somewhere surrounded by a bunch of students. You should be explaining something and your audience should look intrigued.



Option 2

Posters of yourself or you being interviewed on TV. These need to be accompanied by self-deprecating captions as to not make you look narcissistic. “Oh man, I look so stupid being interviewed, or wow I hate being on this side of the camera it’s so weird for me.”



Option 3

A drawing or icon of yourself, this is ridiculously cocky so know the risks when you use it. Best scenario is to pretend you didn’t ask someone to make it for you.


The Goal

You need people to know you are famous and that you draw a crowd but you can’t act as if you enjoy the fame or that you know your famous, this is key.

The Generic Photographer

These are pretty amateur but if you’re not ready for the above, ease your way into these.

Option 1

You can’t wrong with the old faithful of you taking a picture of someone; to add a little spice to it you should be in a weird position like on the ground or in a tree.


Option 2

A picture of your shadow, you in the mirror, or just any shot of you wearing a camera.


Feel free to share this article with a loved one in the photography field. You may help save a photographer from the pain of not portraying themselves the right way on the Internet.

About the author: Justin Mott is photographer and founder of Mott Visuals, a boutique photography and film production studio based in Thailand and Vietnam serving all of Asia and beyond. Visit his website here. For more tips and articles from Justin please visit askmott.com and follow Justin on all social media outlets with the handle @AskMOTT. This article was also published here.