What Makes a Good Profile Photo?

What Makes a Good Profile Photo?

We’ve all been there, some of us far more than others, adding that first profile picture or the long-awaited update to one of you from 5 years ago on social media.  We can’t escape it having them, otherwise we face looking completely inauthentic or basically not really existing in today’s age!

So how can we do it well? I thought I had it nailed on recently when I had some professional pictures taken for my new website. I’ll go for something a bit edgy that makes me stand out for being a bit different I thought, so I clicked and updated.

But as my business is first impressions, so I wondered if there was a way of getting some feedback on my picture without facing the embarrassment of asking people I know, who probably wouldn’t tell the truth anyway.

I discovered a site online called Photofeeler that offered you advice on how to get the right profile picture that would be reflective for a Business, Social or Dating setting or site.

So, after countless research, it turns out the areas that mean most to us in terms of being judged look like this for the below categories:

Business – Competent, Likeable and Influential.

Socially – Confident, Authentic and Fun.

Dating – Smart, Trustworthy and Attractive

Just the above might give you something extra to go on when assessing your current pictures?

I thought I had it nailed, I think maybe I just got excited about having some good pictures of myself for once (I’ve never really been one for having lots of photos being taken).

It also turns out that you can submit your photos to Photofeeler and their worldwide community of signed up individuals can rank your pictures based on the aforementioned above criteria, with also knowledge of your job title if you’re requesting feedback for business shots. You can see my results below to my original ‘edgy’ picture and my updated picture once I applied some of the lessons learnt (they are very telling with their scores).

With this in mind here are some of my top tips for taking a successful profile picture without any hassle.

AVOID SELFIES

Selfies distort your face if you are taking them arm out in front of you. The fact is if you want a picture of your face that is in proportion to what people see of you every day, you need to take the picture from further away than your arm can reach.

Your phone essentially supersizes your features that are closest to the camera i.e. your nose or chin and the sides of your face then appear caved in. It’s a small fish eye effect taking place on the picture and is often why people can detect the picture is a selfie.

They also do nothing for the rest of your body as they usually force you to pose in an unnatural way making the rest of your body either appear smaller or larger!

Not only this, but selfies (and I’m including the ones taken in front of the mirror) can have negative connotations for some people that view them as vain, self-absorbed or superficial when that probably isn’t the case at all. You know the ones I’m talking about in the car, in your bedroom or bathroom.

Avoid that selfie look as much as possible and if you can’t get someone else to take a picture of you, invest in a cheap tripod from Amazon or place it on a mantlepiece or somewhere else and use the timer mode on your phone or use a Bluetooth remote. Any of these solutions can cost under £5.

USE NATURAL LIGHT

Most of us don’t have a professional lighting set up handy during our every day, and that doesn’t matter anyway because the best light to take your pictures in is diffused natural daylight (evenly dispersed and not too bright).

Find a decent sized window during the day where you can’t see the sun directly shining at you. Face the window head-on, but at a reasonable distance (remember selfie facial distort) and set up to take your picture from there.

You’ll find that natural light helps clear any imperfections up on your skin and will draw more attention to your eyes which is exactly what you want from a good quality profile picture.

DRESS WITH INTENTION

As the saying goes, ‘don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want’. Alternatively, dress how you would like people to perceive you. Remember this image will stay in people’s minds and they quickly build up a mental image of you and jump to any conclusion they want if they are evaluating you for any reason.

Think what is appropriate for the picture as well as the colours you are wearing, this is your opportunity to show some personality or to keep it toned down and appropriate for your audience, depending what is right.

Also, on a separate note, think about how well-groomed you are, do you need to have a shave, comb your hair/beard or moisturise?

SMILE

This is your opportunity to sell yourself. There are so many dead-pan profile pictures of people online that tell you absolutely nothing about them and can easily be glossed over. Our profile picture is essentially a way of selling ourselves online. Perceived likability scores highly with people whether it’s someone looking at you from a job you’ve gone for, a pitch you have delivered or are about to, or a dating profile.

I love this quote from Zig Ziglar stated and always use it. ‘People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons’, so give people something they can react to or get a feeling of you from. Smiling projects warmth which is a key characteristic of charisma, which is a highly sought after quality.

BACKGROUND

A simple one really, don’t have anything in the background of your picture that distracts people from looking at you or that may be deemed inappropriate for where you are placing the photo. By this, I mean using that picture that you absolutely love of yourself, but it’s at a club or bar on a Saturday night and you are using it for LinkedIn!

There are many more tips for taking successful profile pictures, but I just wanted to highlight in this article some of my top ones to get you thinking more.

For more fantastic tips, why not visit https://www.photofeeler.com, you might even decide to submit your picture there. I can give them much credit for the tips they gave me, as well as inspiration for writing this blog piece.