Let’s start with me coming clean and admitting my profile photograph is far from perfect. For starters I did it myself, using Photobooth. The lighting is dreadful, I’ve got glare on my face, and I could do with a haircut! I also look far too relaxed to deem it being professional. What I need is somebody who I can trust, who can take a photograph of me to represent my business and what it stands for and without charging me the earth to do so.
In the meantime, I continue to develop my understanding of what it takes to create a perfect profile photograph. Most importantly because I’ve stumbled in to offering profile photography as part of the cvornotcv range of services, and practically always being attached to my camera – I thoroughly enjoy it. Plus clients have felt confident with what I’ve produced.
What is a perfect profile photograph?
1) The memorable factor
Rather like a logo, people will remember the image a profile photograph generates. It needs to be sharp, and must give off the appropriate image.
First impressions are critical. You may know that it takes seven seconds to make up your mind upon meeting somebody for the first time. Of course this perception of ‘who they are’ can change as you get to know them. Yet online you don’t really have the opportunity to change somebody’s perceptions of you once they’ve seen your photograph. You have to either hope your copy is outstanding or that somebody has already done a great marketing job for you.
2) A true reflection of you
It’s all well and good wearing a tailored suit and getting photoshop to make you ‘perfect’ however reality is that underneath that persona you are a human being and probably not as stiff, or plastic, as your picture portrays you to be. I can bet there’s a more relaxed side to you – the real you.
It is important however to think about what you are wearing and don’t try and be something you are not. Dress according to your profession – whilst you may love to spend every spare hour on the green, you would not expect, for example, to see a VP dressed for the golf course. Wear what you would normally wear when you are in your business environment.
Whilst you should aim to keep the background clean and free of distractions, it doesn’t stop you from using tools of your trade in a photograph or seeing you in your work environment.
3) The purpose
I’ve talked mainly about professional profile photographs however there could be the need for a social profile photograph too. You may wish to keep those consistent.
Don’t forget that both will be seen via a search engine.
Think about the purpose and if you do post a profile photograph that you do not wish to be seen via a search engine make a point of checking your privacy settings.
4) The photography
Like they say, a real tradesman wouldn’t blame his tools. Yes, it helps to have a great state of the art camera. However more important is to have a good eye and to have the technical no how that can help you determine the balance between hard light and soft light, and focusing in on your subject whilst potentially showing a little background too.
It’s about getting the right angle – not too much chin, the ‘best side’, no shadow covering half the face or like my current photograph – not to have glare from the flash. Blurry photographs are an obvious no-no.
Why do you need a profile photograph?
The human instinct will naturally make assumptions based upon what they see and that includes whether there is no photograph.
The question of ‘why do they not have a photo?’ opens up a whole heap of answers from the extreme – that the individual simply has two heads and ten eyes, or that the individual is too passive or shy to do business.
In the age of social media, if you want to do business, get a job or progress your career especially online, people will want to see who they are dealing with.
I am currently* offering a LinkedIn profile review and profile photography package for £100. This includes half an hour photo session and a full set of downloadable images together with a review document with suggestions on how to best improve your LinkedIn profile based upon what you wish to achieve. This is open to those living in central and east London only. For more information on this or any other of my CV, LinkedIn or web biography writing services please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
*Till end July 2014