Take The Perfect Artist Profile Photo

A strong profile photo is essential to a strong online profile. Presenting yourself in a professional way reassures the collector that buying your art is a good idea, and it also helps them get to know the artist behind the art. It’s important to get this one right, so listen up!  

An example of a terrible selfie to avoid using

DON’T: Photos like this old selfie of mine don’t make for a good profile photo. I’ve used so many filters that you can barely tell who I am!

If you can, use a camera to take the photo. Better image quality will provide a much cleaner looking photo. Where possible, get a family member, friend or partner to take the photo for you. Selfies might work great for Instagram, but this is your professional profile, so now is the time for that photoshoot you’ve always dreamed of.


The most important part of a good picture is the lighting! The best way to make sure you look great is to use window lighting. For shadowless, flattering light, stand facing a window to take the photo. Alternatively, if you prefer some shadow, stand 45 degrees to the window (try drawing a diagonal line to the window with your hips) to add some shape to your face.

Artist posed at a 45 degree angle to open doors

DO: In this photo, Daniella Germain was positioned 45 degrees to the open doors of her studio.

If you want an outside photo, the best kind of weather is a really cloudy day. It’s nature’s softbox! However, if it isn’t a cloudy day, stand in the shade just out of the sun’s reach (under a roof works well). This way, the light should remain even. Try not to stand in direct sunlight – this will cast ugly shadows on your face, which typically end up around your eyes. Somehow, these shadows will always seem to discover wrinkles you didn’t know you had.

Headshot with natural light on a cloudy day

DO: Julian’s headshot for Bluethumb was taken on a (very cold) cloudy day in front of a simple blue wall.


Make sure the focus of the photo is around the eyes. If you’re using a DSLR camera, you can manually focus on your eyes to get this to be absolutely perfect. It may be a cliché, but the eyes really are the window to the soul. If it appears as though you’re looking out from the photo, people are able to connect to you more easily. 

DSLR cameras also give you the ability to leave the background out of focus. To achieve this look, make sure the aperture setting is f/8 or lower. Also, leave a fair amount of distance between you and the background items that you want to lose focus on. 


Pay attention to the background. Try to keep it simple and relevant. The best kinds of backgrounds will be a plain wall or something related to your art practice. For example, your easel or some of your artworks. If you can see your studio in the background, make sure it’s neat and not too busy. Clutter will overwhelm the photo, which will make the viewer’s eyes hurt.

Artist in studio where background is too dominant in the frame

DON’T: This is a lovely photo of Ying Huang, however it wouldn’t work as a profile photo because the background overwhelms her and it’s not close enough to see her properly.

The same goes for those taking photos outside; make sure you’ve got a simple background. Natural elements, like trees and grass work perfectly. Avoid too many bright, colourful things. Remember, you’re the star here!

In terms of composition, make sure that no limbs are awkwardly cut off! It works well to keep 3/4 of your body in frame, or even just to show your head and shoulders. Full body shots aren’t ideal, because the viewer can’t see you well enough to really get to know you. Also, try to avoid extreme close ups. While they might show off your creative side, they often end up giving an alien-like effect.

artist in shadow next to photo of artist facing the light

DON’T / DO: The difference light makes – in the left Ember is hidden in shadows, in the right image, she stands out from the background by facing the window light

If you’re unsure how to pose your body, try a few different options. Some simple poses that work well include sitting, standing, or even casually lounging. You want to appear relaxed and friendly. A smile will work wonders! 


Try to keep your distance from any filters. You’ve put in a lot of hard work to get this photo looking nice, so don’t ruin it now. Keep it as natural as you can.

Artist holding art

DO: Here, Marian Bosch is interacting with her art. While it helps to look at the camera, by no means is it essential.

The Loophole

Lastly, if you’re the type of person who really, really, REALLY can’t handle being in a photo, then get someone to take a photo of you from behind or from the side while at work on your art. Photos with faces will be the most effective, but – even a well-shot silhouette can go far in creating the perfect artist profile. 

Spotlight on South Australia’s Artistic Youth

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