Yet in today’s digital world, having a good bio photo is more important than ever before for a writer. A high quality photo isn’t just something you need for the dust jacket of your book or in a byline for a magazine or newspaper article. Your bio photo is something you need every single day.
On your website.
On your Facebook page.
In a Gravatar.
[insert new social media outlet of the day]
Your photo shows up everywhere. (Ever done a google search for your name and clicked on the images tab?) It’s important that you have a recent, high quality photo that represents you well. Before you even show up at a conference for your scheduled appointment with an editor or an agent, there’s a good chance that he or she will look you up online. (Totally happened to me this summer at a conference, and freaked me out a little bit!!) When you submit a book proposal to the agent of your dreams, if you catch his attention, I guarantee he is going to look you up online.
So while you might be tempted to take a selfie with that HD camera in your new smartphone and use it on all your profiles, please don’t. (Save those photos for your personal profiles, not your professional ones.) And while your spouse or friend or neighbor might have a fancy digital SLR and a nice lens, before you ask one of them to snap a head shot for you, make sure he or she is capable of taking professional photos. (Having a great camera doesn’t make a person a great photographer.) A professional photographer knows how to pose you so you look natural and comfortable. A professional photographer knows how to work lighting in your favor (or fix it later in photoshop).
If you had a professional photo taken, but it’s been a few years, it’s time for a new photo. I recently interviewed a photographer for an article, and he said that people don’t get their photo taken often enough. He recommends getting a professional head shot taken every two years. Not only do we age a little bit every few years, styles change too (and not just clothing, but photography styles and poses). I’ve shown up to a few events to hear an author speak, and the person on stage looks nothing like the photos I’ve seen in promotional materials. It’s obvious that the photo she sent the event sponsors is at least ten years old.
One final tip: Get one great photo, and use the same photo every where (see the list above). You begin to build a brand around not just your style of writing, but your photo as well. Make sure it’s a photo that captures the true you.
Amelia Rhodes loves coffee breaks with friends and has a passion for encouraging women to share an authentic life together. Her first book, “Isn’t it Time for a Coffee Break? Doing life together in an all-about-me kind of world”, offers women of all ages a fresh perspective on relationships. She is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s books “Here Comes the Bride” and “Inspiration for Writers.” Amelia lives in West Michigan with her husband and two young children and can often be found chasing ground hogs out of her garden and training for marathons.