What makes a good profile photo?

New year – new you? Or at least a new profile photo!

corporate headshot,profile photo

Check out a selection of my commercial portraits here

If you want to know what makes a good or bad photo, read on…

It is well known that customers or clients like to know who they are dealing with. Whether you are an accountant, a musician or just like social networking, a good profile photo is essential to make a good impression – and to help people ‘put a face to the name’.

Why do so many profile photos look bad?
– poor lighting, sometimes the face is nearly a silhouette!
– taken on a phone camera, so the background is too visible and distracting (this is related to the small sensor size, but that’s a longer story)
– unflattering pose or camera angle; a close-up wide-angle lens (eg. that phone camera again) distorts the face

What does make a good profile photo?
– For LinkedIn, Facebook, etc, a simple but well-lit head & shoulders shot is best, otherwise you are too small to be recognisable in the thumbnail. Smiling preferably!
– For other uses, particularly in this age of marketing via social networks, often a more relaxed photo is better, perhaps showing yourself engaged in speaking to someone or doing something in your business – eg. the baker takes bread from the oven, pauses to smile at camera. This shows you as an approachable person, someone nice to do business with. Of course a CEO may want something more dramatic and imposing, showing he/she is in control.

Either way, if your photo is obviously professionally taken, it shows you have made an effort to be presentable and that you are, well, professional and businesslike!

Thanks for reading, please share with anyone you think will find this useful (use the social media sharing buttons below), wishing you all a prosperous 2011!


PS. Before I get a stream of great photos taken on iPhones etc… yes, great photos can be taken on phones or cheap cameras, but in general if you hold your own phone at arms length for a self-portrait, it will look fun or funny, but not professional…

It’s less about the camera, more about the photographer – see the following examples:

The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You

Jay McLaughlin

Movie shot on iPhone

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