Must-Know Tips for a Profile Photo that Shines

If you have never been the photogenic type, choosing one single photo to represent all you do in your business can be quite the daunting task. When you consider that your online persona is who your future client meets first, how can you ensure that who they meet virtually is up to par with who is behind the actual photo (who we both know is amazing)?

As a professional photographer who has worked with many different professionals in a number of varied industries, I have a few tips that may help you when you are faced with the mission of updating your profile photo (aka your professional headshot). Here we go:

 

How to dress:

Consider how you would meet your ideal client in person, on one of your most confident days.

Not any client, but the ideal client. Not the day when “today was crazy, and I ran out of the door looking like this mess”, but the “I love this outfit and my hair looks great” kind of day.

As much as we should focus on what we are on the inside, a picture is something visual, and how we physically look is what connects us to our audience (or not). If you want to look good, it is imperative that you give your finished look some serious thought*.

*I always recommend hiring a professional hair & makeup artist and brainstorming ideas about what outfits would flatter your figure the most. When it’s time for your photos, planning these steps ahead of time takes a lot of pressure off the experience.

professional headshot, maple grove, professional photographer, profile photoDress as if you were meeting your ideal client on one of your most confident days

How to pose:

Consider the angle of the camera in relation to the position of your body.

A camera that’s placed low and/or eye level may show an unflattering angle, possibly highlighting a double chin, even if you don’t have one. Also, if you keep your arms close to your body, you may give the impression that your torso is wider than it really is, which is normally undesirable*.

*I like to ask my clients to turn their head to the side just a bit, to highlight their cheekbone, and I usually shoot with the camera above eye level (climbing on a step stool, if needed), which has a universal slimming effect.

If you’re feeling extra confident, you can experiment with the placement of your arms and shoulders, or twist your torso just a bit, so the photo comes across more dynamic and less stoic than facing the camera dead on.

professional headshots, professional photographer, minneapolis, Nancy's photo was taken from above eye level and at a slight angle, which flatters her figure and highlights her cheekbone

How to smile:

Aim to look approachable and trustworthy, but also inject your personality in the smile.

If your line of business is more serious, conservative and/or traditional, you may smile slightly, just a friendly and inviting twist of the lips. However, if your industry offers more flexibility, you can be more creative with your facial expressions, and even use a full blown giggle, which makes people smile back at you*.

*Some people choose not to smile, but if you have this one photo with one chance to make an impression on someone, do you really want to come across super serious? Come on, don’t be shy! AND you score bonus points for practicing your smile in the mirror!

professional headshots, minneapolis, professional photographer, headshot photo sessionAn artist has a lot of flexibility when having their photo done - this image makes the viewer wonder what caught Sandra's attention

 

How to choose good photos:

Not all photos are created equal – you’ll be glad you have options!

First, go with your gut instinct and select your top choices (narrow it down to around 5 images).

Then, compare them based on the following attributes:

  • LIGHTING: Is the image evenly lit? Do you see harsh shadows or dark wrinkles? Are your eyes bright and clear? This can all be addressed with proper lighting. A good photo will be sharp and show your best features (unless you are deliberately going for something moody and/or artistic).
  • FRAMING: A photo where you are too far away becomes impersonal, as the viewer cannot distinguish your facial features. A photo that is really close works great for small devices, such as mobile browsing, or you can use it as a small profile photo on your blog/website, however, if you use a large close-up photo, your face will show up unnecessarily big. A happy medium is a photo that generally shows your whole face and the top of your shoulders. If you opt for a few different shots, you can choose varied frames, which, simply put, are photos taken at different distances.
  • USAGE: How will the photos be displayed? Make sure you have a good file size (resolution) for print use (3-5MB should be fine), in case you are featured in a print media (magazine, newspaper, etc). Photos should still be small enough in size that, when used online, they load fast, and can be easily attached to an email and uploaded to websites (most online images show up acceptably at 72dpi). Files that are too large, while holding great resolution, will make it cumbersome to manage.
professional headshot, minneapolis, professional photographer, headshot photo sessionImage is evenly lit, flattering Rebecca's skin and facial features professional headshots, minneapolis, professional photographer, headshot photo sessionSelect more than one photo and choose different framings, so you have options for every media you may decide to use

Other tips:

  • Photos are something that you should always keep fresh, which helps represent that you are evolving as a business, and attracting the right kind of attention*

*I recommend a new photo every 2-3 years. If you experience some changes, such as weight gain/loss, or a major update in hair style, you should also update your photos, so they accurately represent who you are now.

  • Of your selection, plan to keep at least 2-3 photos, ideally with different looks, so you can swap them back-and-forth and use them for different purposes. If you decide to get more photos, you set yourself up with a greater variety of images for all the social media and marketing options out there (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogs, Articles, Newsletters, Websites, Flyers and anything else you may want to create for your business).
professional headshots, maple grove, headshot photo session, professional photographerChoose a few different shots to give you options to swap back and forth - opt for images in different outfits for higher contrast professional headshots, maple grove, headshot photo session, professional photographerIf you like two photos that look similar at first, convert one into black and white to highlight the difference and keep the viewer interested

 

I hope these tips help you when you are considering updating your photo, and, if I may mention the most valuable piece of advice, this is it:

Hire an experienced photographer and trust your photos to a professional that understands all these details, and will work hard to ensure your photos reflect all the wonderful things you are.

It may be an investment up front, but you will use these photos over and over, making it a great value over time. Paying a fair price for photos that will introduce you the best way possible to all your future clients is something you will not regret.

 

Want to see more examples? Click here to see my professional headshot gallery.

Interested in a professional headshot session with me? Click here to learn more.

 

professional headshots, professional photographer, andover, minneapolis, maple grove, laine torres photography, headshot photo sessionClick to see availability and book your headshot session


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laine torres is a professional photographer located in andover for families, high school seniors, engagements and professional headshoysPhotographer for Family Photos, High School Senior Portraits, Engagement Sessions and Professional Headshots in Andover

Laine Torres is a Professional Photographer based in Andover, MN, for Happy Families, Proud High School Seniors, Couples in Love and Professional Headshots

Proud Member of Professional Photographers of America

Member, Professional Photographers of America

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