Is your profile picture projecting the right message about you ?

Great Profile Pictures – why they are important and how to have one

Never before has something the size of your thumbnail had such an impact  on how people perceive you online.

Your profile picture is equally as important as the words you say about yourself. In fact, without an effective picture, potential customers, employers or partners are more likely to not read anything about you at all.

The importance of a profile picture cannot be emphasised enough.  But a before you grab a snap of yourself ensure the picture sends the right message about you.

Common pictures we all see that do not help include:

  • Badly lit images giving a shady look.
  • A group picture with other members of the group cropped off.
  • A picture taken at a wedding with prominent flowers.
  • Pictures taken at black tie dinners or award ceremonies
  • Sunglasses hiding eyes.
  • Reflections in reading glasses hiding eyes.
  • Eyes looking in the wrong direction causing subliminal messages.
  • Inappropriate eyeline implying a overly subservient or dominant personality.
  • Wrong use of colour giving off inappropriate messages.
  • Pictures with babies
  • Pictures of a persons youth
  • A selfie where the lens distorts facial features
  • A ‘Facebook Pout’ more appropriate to a dating site
  • Strange background distracting from the face
  • A cartoon character, logo or andom body feature
  • A Car, truck, can or motorbike
  • A side profile (only works if you are the Queen and your picture is on a stamp)
  • Overly produced images that are portraits than profiles

So the quick formula for an acceptable profile picture. Firstly, the background should be a neutral colour and non distracting.  Clothing should be appropriate for your profession.  Only wear a wetsuit if you are a professional surfer.  Ensure your eyes are visible and don’t suggest that you are a mad, zany murderer or someone away with the fairies.  Looking softly into the lens works.  A smile is good but fails if it is forced.   The picture should be well lit with highlights and shadows in the right places.  Focus is important as is white balance.  Head and shoulders work or just a little closer works too.  It is widely accepted that profiles should be updated annually or at least every couple of years.  You should also use the same picture across all online social networks.

People generally do not like photographs of themselves, most people like close ups even less.

When making profile pictures for people I find out about the individual, what they want to achieve, where the picture will be used.  We discuss colour and explain how these subliminally send messages to the viewer.  We also discuss body language and how micro expressions, angle of head and position of head in relation to lens can also project subliminally.  I recommend types of clothing and if we are unsure what will work best I encourage a couple of changes of dress.  I bring along lighting equipment, backgrounds and of course cameras and lenses.  These are integral to producing a great picture.  During the actual shoot I relax the sitter and coach them through various poses and techniques that will bring out the best of their personality.   A portrait takes around thirty minutes.  I then go back to my editing suite and finish the image rendering it in colour and monochrome providing files that can be printed up to A4 then files that are Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter friendly.

Where beneficial, I also produce situational images of the person in their work environment, at a desk, in their workshop, at a flipchart for instance.

A great profile picture doesn’t have to be produced by a professional photographer and can be produced with a smartphone.  All information relating to psychology of colour, body language, styling and neuro linguistic programming are of course available online.

If you are confident in producing the image yourself then go for it but if you would like support and assistance I would be happy to help you.

I explain more about profile pictures at various 4Networkng meetings around the UK, dates for these are on

You can contact me directly:

Studio 01935 388 159

Mobile 07789 777 600


My profile picture Close up to fill the small available frame. Slight smile, camera positioned slightly lower than eyes to project confidence, slight angle of head as this is more appealing to our brains when we look at images. Monochrome as I didn’t want colours to distract. Strong eye contact with no reflection in glasses. Catchlights in eyes. Non distracting background. Shame I am not Brad Pitt but I mentioned earlier that nobody likes their photograph really !

I am a qualified professional photographer producing images of people, property, products, places, portraits, pets, weddings and events.  The majority of my work is in the commercial sector.  I use a wide variety of equipment and techniques to satisfy client requirements.
I am often asked what type of equipment I use.  For portraits I prefer the Fuji X series cameras and lenses which are smaller, discreet, less imposing and virtually silent.  I find that these cameras don’t put a barrier between the photographer and subject.  For photographs where people are not the prime focus I use Nikon full frame professional cameras and lenses.  Lighting is a mix of ambient, studio flash and portable flash.
All editing is done using my Macbook Pro or iMac and software includes Apple Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop or Final Cut Pro.  I have developed various bespoke editing techniques that help me produce stunning pictures that resonate, substantiate, differentiate and engage the viewer encouraging a call to action.

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