Top 11 Tips to take the Perfect Profile Photo with Example Portraits

Kaitlin Zhang
Jun 25, 2018 · 6 min read

The 2nd step of my 5 Steps To Build Your Personal Brand Online is Profile. Profile is about creating the best first impression using visuals such as your profile photo, profile video and your visual identity. In this post, we’ll focus specifically on the all-important profile photo and supplementary photos.

If you are an entrepreneur who mostly works through the Internet, you probably know how important it is to get your photo right. After all, your customers look at your photo and form an opinion about you and your company in less than 1 second. Fortunately, these 11 simple tips can help you create amazing looking portraits.

Tip #1 Use a recent photo consistently across all platforms.

This will help you maintain the same image across all platforms you use for your business. It will also make you instantly recognizable to your customers. When they stumble upon your profile in social media there will be no doubt in their mind that IT IS YOU. Use supplementary photos to tell a visual story of who you are. These are typically not profile photos, so they are rarely square. And they can be used for social media, your personal website and in the press.

Tip #2 Use a high-quality camera. Get a photographer if you can.

Blurred, out of focus pictures; this is what most likely will happen if you use a bad quality camera. If you don’t own a decent camera I would recommend hiring a photographer. Not only he or she will know what pose you should take to look your best. A great photographer will also be able to recommend settings for the photo shoot that would work best. Expect to spend at least 1 hour to get one decent profile photo, and up to 1 day to get all the supplementary photos.

Tip #3 Don’t use a selfie for a profile photo.

Yes we really can tell it’s a selfie despite your best efforts. First of all, selfies don’t look professional. Secondly, you must be a master of selfies to take a really good picture of yourself. There are exceptions to this rule of course but the majority of professionals and entrepreneurs should use a professional photograph.

Tip #4 It’s all about the Lighting, Lighting, Lighting.

If you look directly at a light you will squint. If you take a picture against bright light your face won’t be visible. Lighting that is set well can enhance your features. Bad lighting can make you look tired and expose all the imperfections on your face.

Tip #5 Always use your brand colors in your photos.

This photo above has a strong color scheme of teal and green. This would be perfect for someone whose logos or visual identity feature those colors. Whatever colours are in your logos and visual identity, you should aim to use the same set of colours and similar colors in the photos. And stay away from colors that are clashing. For example for this guy above, he probably should stay away from colors such as orange, purple or pink because they would clutter the visual palette.

Tip #6 You’ll likely only get 1 decent photo out of 20 photos.

Don’t feel discouraged when after a photo shoot you go through pictures and you see, what it seems like, only bad photos. The truth is that in most photo shoots, there are plenty of photographs that are bad. In every 20 photos, there is maybe 1 good photo to use. That’s why photographers take hundreds of pictures.

Tip #7 Use the 1/3 rule and vary your composition.

Pictures in which 1/3 rule is applied are more engaging and well-balanced. When taking a picture you should imagine two horizontal and vertical lines that run across the screen. Make sure you position elements that are important to you along those lines.

Tip #8 The left side of your face is more likeable.

According to research carried out by Wake Forest University in 2012, people consider others more attractive when in their pictures a left side of the face is shown. Researchers claim that it is due to the half of our brain that controls that side of the face, making it more expressive than the right side.

Watch this video on the science of attraction in photos:

Tip #9 Choose the right background to show personality or credibility.

The background you choose shouldn’t steal focus from you. You also don’t have to choose plain, white background. It is a great idea to select a location that will say something about the nature of your business or promote your brand values. For example, somebody who has a green environmentally conscious business might choose to use green trees and nature as a background. Also, people tend to remember better pictures that show off some personality so give them something unique they can associate with you in their mind.

Tip #10 Banner photos are useful for social media.

Banner photos such as this one above are much wider than they are long. They are also called cover photos and are often used on social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube and Google Plus. Because all these social media sites have different sizes for banner photos, ask your photographer to keep this in mind and take photos which you can easily crop to the right size for later use. This means the photographer should make the person smaller in the photo and leave plenty of room of all sides, especially horizontally, for cropping later.

Tip #11 Save a few photos for updates later.

You will be glad you did when you decide it is time to change the profile picture. You might also be able to use your pictures for other purposes, like marketing materials or presentations. If you have an Instagram account, space out the time to post your newly commissioned photos.

Bonus Tip: Take a few behind the scenes photos.

Behind the scenes shots are fun and they can be used to give the illusion that you are in high demand with the press. Just look at the guy above. Doesn’t he look like he is often interviewed for TV?

So which of these 11 tips did you find the most useful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.


Sources

“Rule of Thirds.” http://www.photographymad.com/. Accessed 17 February 2017.

Woollaston, Victoria. “Is your left side is your BEST side? People pose in same position for photos because that half is ‘more expressive’.” 11 Feb. 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2556689/Is-left-best-People-pose-photo-position-brain-makes-half-expressive.html. Accessed 17 February 2017.


Originally published at kaitlinzhang.com on May 1, 2017.

Kaitlin Zhan Branding is a cross-border marketing agency that provides brand management, digital marketing and online reputation management services for corporate and personal branding clients. The company specialises in technology, fintech, venture capital, private equity and government. There is also a dedicated team in China that has an in-depth understanding of China’s marketing environment.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help promote your brand.

www.kaitlinzhang.com

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Kaitlin Zhang

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CEO at Oval Branding | UK USA China| Financial Services Tech and Government | A minimalist. @KaitlinZhang

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