If you’re part of the modern world of social media, you know that every platform requires a profile photo. If your business has a logo, it’s easy enough to scale or reconfigure that to a 1:1 ratio that’ll fit the square format required by most apps. But what if your business and brand are you?
Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re a judgmental society; we judge books by their covers, and first impressions matter. While content is the most important part of social media, most people browsing through a feed won’t stop if the profile picture doesn’t look professional.
If you can’t afford a professional photographer, and you don’t have a nearby friend who can help you look good, you can absolutely take your own profile photo… without it looking like a Selfie.
Steps for Success
- Look your best. This doesn’t have to mean “fancy” or “done up.” Take your time to think about the image you want to project for your business. If you’re a professional (realtor, consultant, etc.) make sure your photo will reflect that. If you’re an artist (musician, poet, etc.), you can (and should) go for a more creative look.
- Find the right spot: well lit with a distraction free background. In a pinch, you can create your own backdrop by hanging a sheet from a tree, window, etc. If you need more light, use a mirror (or reflective car sun shade) to bounce more light onto your face.
- Don’t use a front facing camera. The quality is usually lower: they have fewer megapixels, most of them don’t have auto-focus, they don’t allow in as much light as the regular camera, and they sometimes force an odd perspective. (Note: you can use the front facing camera to gauge where you should hold the camera.)
- Find right angle. For most people, this is a three-quarter pose to camera, leaning forward slightly, with the camera just above eye level. This requires you to lift your chin just enough to make you look just a touch slimmer.
- Focus on your face. Look into or just above the lens. Try different expressions: smiling, laughing, thoughtful. This is where to let your personality shine.
Pet Peeves (for the love of whatever deity you worship, please don’t):
- Wear sunglasses (we need to see your eyes!)
- Use extreme makeup (unless that’s part of your brand, e.g. makeup sales)
- Take a Selfie in your car (this should be self explanatory)
- Wear gym clothes (unless you’re a personal trainer)
- Make “duck lips.”
With all that in mind, here’s my take on some of the quintessentially bad selfies I’ve seen.
The final result:
I found a pose which slimmed my jawline without making my eyes look huge. The background (a hedge) works well with the color tones I chose. My hair, while not perfectly styled, is suitable my somewhat whimsical writer/author profile, and the almost smile hints at intrigue.
Bottom line: your professional profile photo is your first chance to make a first impression. If it’s an honest reflection of you and your brand, that’s all that matters.