Social Media Magazine

8 Steps to Taking a Perfect Profile Pic

Posted on the 06 February 2013 by Margaret @bloghappy1

Your profile picture can change your life. It’s the first impression you make and for better or worse, like any first impression, it affects they way others judge you and your brand.  With the exponential growth of social media and its role in professions and business the importance of your profile picture has never been greater.  This virtual version of a first impression establishes what you and your business is about.

Take a look at your current picture- on your website, on your blog, wherever.  What does it say about you, your business or brand?  Be truthful. Is it a grainy, cropped photo of you from five years ago? Do you sport a leering grin, a schoolmarm scowl or does it resemble most a stroppy mug shot?  Social media is about connection and community, so it helps if your profile photo is authentic, credible and approachable.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a supermodel or George Clooney. It’s more about creating an image that is authentic to you. You don’t need an expensive camera or a professional photographer either; a smart phone, a nice angle and bit of photo editing can work the minor miracles to create just the right impression.

Start off with these 6 steps:

  1. Decide on an angle: consider what persona you’re trying to create? Do you want to come across as creative and enthusiastic? Intelligent and thoughtful? Professional and efficient? By aspiring towards a particular ‘look’ you can alter the entire mood of the image. Work on applying it to each of the following steps.
  2. Choose a suitable location: keep it simple. Ensure the environment isn’t overly cluttered or has anything that could distract or detract from the main viewing point (you). If you’re at a complete loss, standing in front of a block coloured wall can be equally as effective.
  3. Aim for somewhere with ambient light so as not to cast unwanted shadows. A soft natural illumination is most flattering; try to avoid overly bright or fluorescent light.
  4. Think about your Posture and Expression: your body language can be potentially the most influential part of the picture. The most critical thing to do here is relax and make sure you’re comfortable in whatever position you’ve chosen, otherwise it can look contrived or inauthentic. A trick to looking natural is to breath out when the photo is being taken.
  5. Dress to impress: It doesn’t matter if you work from home in your pyjamas, if you want a professional image use a shirt and tie for men and a collared shirt for women.   In general social media types tend to be more creative and casual, so chose something more relaxed if that is your style.  Probably not your pajamas though.
  6. Take the photo: The more photos taken, the more you have to choose from. Take it with the most high-resolution device you have: high resolution maintains the quality of the image and avoids pixilation.
  7. Consider the angle- straight on to connote authenticity, or up close for a more personal shot. My favorite pose is arms crossed and leaning back slightly, but try a few different ones till you feel comfortable.
  8.  Edit the photo: The secret to editing is to be subtle about it. Anything that is obviously edited loses its authenticity and can look cheap and fake. I recommend that you capitalise on your efforts so far by downloading a free photo editing application- such as instagram- and play around with the image till you’re happy with it (see the ‘5 Minute Instagram Guide)- just don’t overdo it.


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