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What your profile picture says about you

June 20, 2014 - All Categories - , , , , , , ,

Ah profile pictures.

The minutes and hours that is spent deliberating our own and others is almost degree worthy. As frivolous as it sounds though, when it comes to business pages or websites, profile pictures are first meeting virtual replacements for steady eye-contact and a firm handshake, they are one of the top first impression factors online. Not having one is like looking at the floor and keeping your hands in your pockets, while changing it twice a week is like changing outfit three times during dinner . For a confident online image spend time getting a clean, strong photo of yourself, one that is up to date and well-lit, and stick with it for a minimum of 6 months. Here are a few tips in choosing wisely:
1. A profile picture = Your face

Ok I may be stating the obvious here, but make your profile picture a picture of you. Not your favorite shoes, not your great big tractor, not your baby cousin and not your rare electric guitar. Your profile picture is so people can see your face, that is its purpose, if you put something other than your face there it’s just a bit weird.

2. Make it appropriate

Again it seems pretty obvious to avoid drunken night out photos, but take it a step further and avoid anything too situational at all. Avoid making your surroundings or activity a focal point of your profile picture, whether your finishing a marathon, doing a sky-dive or kissing a butterfly, all lovely accomplishments but don’t really belong in your profile image. This is your ‘first meeting face’. If 5 seconds into your first meeting with someone you mention you’ve just completed your 5th iron man this summer, you will sound like an arse.

3.Good Light

Lighting and focus is key. Often, evening time plus camera phone flash equals bad light. If you are going to use your camera phone go outside during the day, morning generally has the best light. You don’t want glaring sun, just even light.

Blur in certain types of photography works great, but in profile pictures blur is bad, there is focus on every camera out there, use it. Blurry, poorly lit profile images are just a little lazy looking.

4.Be pleasant

Smiles work. Online, offline, everywhere, a genuine smile engages people. Get out of your head that you look better with a pouty squinty glare, you don’t, smiles suit everyone and attract everyone. Look confident and keep your chin up straight. not tilted down that is a submissive pose. Look even more confident by keeping your head straight on your neck, it can be a really natural tendancy to tilt your head to one side when having your photo taken, by keeping it straight you will get a far more confident photo.

5.Don’t over edit

Black and white is fine , but a million filters and over saturation is too much. Keep it clear and natural, too many filters and over editing is the online equivalent of too make up. If you make the effort to get a good shot in the first place there is no need colourize an image to within an inch of it’s life.

For business profiles in particular I would tend to advise against selfies, But you can still do it yourself, face into good soft light, ( i.e. don’t stand with your back to a window you’ll come out dark, make sure light is hitting your face) set your pocket camera up on a tripod and use the self shoot timer or get a friend to take it.

Or if all else fails go the whole hog and spend 50 quid or so getting them professionally shot, whatever way you go, choose a good one and stick with it.

Bye for now!