Having a good profile picture is key for many online sites such as LinkedIn, a company profile, or digital business card. The picture you choose is the first impression that people will have of you. In these situations, a picture can truly say a thousand words and should reflect your personal brand. Having a good picture does not mean that you need to look like America’s Next Top Model, but it should reflect your character, professionalism, and show that you care enough to take a quality photo. While it might sound silly, a quality photo could be the edge that places one candidate above another.
Getting professional photos can be very expensive and is not in everyone’s budget, however, most people who own a smartphone can take a high quality photo if using some basic guidelines. Here are 10 things to consider in order to take a great profile picture.
Lighting is a key aspect of taking a quality photo.
Having a good source of light can make or break a photo. If one does not have access to professional indoor lighting, another great option would be to go outside. Natural lighting, specifically sunrise or sunset, is flattering for most individuals. When taking pictures outside make sure to watch out for shadows that may cast over one’s face and distort the image.
How you look in your picture should reflect what you look like in real life.
When an individual sees your profile picture, they assume what they see is what you currently look like. If you have changed your hair cut or color, bought new glasses, or changed how you do your makeup, a new picture should be taken to reflect your current look. If you look different in person than in your profile picture, people are less likely to trust you.
Your profile picture should only be about you.
A profile picture has no other purpose than to showcase you. When people use a group picture it makes it hard to distinguish who you are and distracts the viewer from you.
Think about your background.
Before taking a picture, think about what is behind you. Make sure that the background does not take away from you being the focal point. Picking a solid color or background with a simple pattern always looks nice. When taking outdoor pictures, nature or greenery tend to photograph nicely as well.
Dress for the position that you want, not the position you have.
How someone is dressed could be an indicator of their profession and what type of work they are looking for. Those looking at your profile could use how you dress as a way to determine if you will fit into the company culture or what your personality may be like. Those dressed casually may be looking for environments that are more relaxed, while people dressed in formal attire could be perceived as serious or more professional.
Have someone else take the picture for you or use a tripod.
Try not to take a selfie. Most if not everyone knows when someone has taken a selfie and it comes across like you did not have time to ask someone to take the picture for you. Try to plan time with a friend or family member to take a few pictures of you. If the situation occurs that you need an image and no one is around, using a tripod with your phone timer also works as well. By using the phone timer feature, you have time to pose as if you are not taking the picture by yourself.
Be consistent across all platforms.
Once you are happy with the picture taken, use the same image across all of your platforms. This image is your personal brand and it is important to have consistent branding when building relationships. Sending the same message on different channels builds trust that you are who you say you are.
Take more than one photo.
This is the digital age and very few people use film anymore. Take as many pictures as you can because you never know which one will be the perfect image. More images means more opportunities to find the right angle, lighting, and test different personalities. Not every image has to be used so feel free to experiment and see what looks the best.
Ensure that the photo resolution will look good on the platform it is being uploaded on.
Take a moment to see what the recommended resolution is for the platform you want to upload your picture on. While LinkedIn recommends a 400 X 400 pixel image, a website or business card might need a much different size and resolution. Higher quality is usually better than lower quality.
What message do you want viewers to receive?
This is an important question we all have to ask ourselves. Based on your response a lot of these elements could change. It is ok to be perceived as serious, funny, light hearted, relaxed, determined, professional and many other characteristics. Depending on your field the message being portrayed could be very different, but what is important is making sure the message you want is being received. While it may be hard, ask friends or family for their feedback on your image and if they understand the message trying to be sent.