Following my journey into self-humiliation with my Hammer House of Horrible LinkedIn Profile Pictures a few weeks ago, I felt it would be churlish to ignore my own advice, and took another look at my own LinkedIn photo. Not terrible, I felt, but certainly room for improvement, and what better time to address the situation?
Here is my ‘before’ photo:
I also thought it would be harsh to outline what not to do without following up with some positive advice on how to achieve a better LinkedIn profile image. So, with these two objectives in mind, I contacted John Starns, a talented local photographer recommended to me by mutual friend, Lisa Whalley-Smith of Klarity Marketing.
John specialises in lifestyle family portraits, parties, commercial, and editorial projects, working across the UK and the world. Luckily for me, he lives a stone’s throw away, so he popped over one morning and shared his five top tips to get your LinkedIn profile picture right. Here they are:
#1 If you get nothing else right about your LinkedIn profile image, make sure the focus is on your eyes.
John’s tip: Eyes are, after all, said to be the window to the soul, and if you don’t capture their essence, your image can appear soulless.
Here’s how it worked for me: John advised me to focus on looking at him during the shoot and, I have to say, all the images he captured show me as engaged with the viewer. As my own worst critic, it is only natural for me to concentrate on my own flaws and wish 20 years and many cakes to disappear for the purpose of the photo but, coming back to reality, I am who I am, and I think John has captured my ‘essence’ well.
#2 Get the lighting right.
John’s tip: John advises against using a camera flash, the light it delivers is too harsh and can be unflattering. Unless you are blessed with the use of a very bright room, then shoot outdoors, ideally in shade. An overcast day can provide softer light, which is much kinder to the skin.
Here’s how it worked for me: John came into my home office, which is south facing, and mentioned that he thought it would be too dark for the shoot. I was surprised, but happy to go with his recommendation, and I have to say, taking the images outside was more enjoyable. The day was perfect for a walk in the park, and the trees provided a great background. Now that I have seen the results, I agree with John about the lighting.
#3 Establish a good rapport with your photographer.
John’s tip: A professional photographer will put you at ease, and make you feel comfortable with the situation, even if you feel uncomfortable with having your photo taken. From the photographer’s perspective, putting the subject at ease is invaluable, resulting in a more natural expression.
Here’s how it worked for me: I have to admit, I did feel apprehensive. I detest having my photo taken. However, I know that to identify and connect with me, contacts on LinkedIn need to clearly see who I am. John definitely put me at my ease, chatting about this and that as we trundled off into the park near my house to capture the images. As the shoot progressed, I definitely felt more relaxed, and this was evident from the resulting images. At the point of writing, I haven’t yet decided which images to use, but it is likely to be image seven, eight, or nine, rather than one, two, or three.
#4 Allow sufficient space between yourself as the subject and the background.
John’s tip: This is an added benefit of shooting the images outside, as it enables the photographer to create a less distracting, out of focus background that puts emphasis on the subject (you!).
Here’s how it worked for me: John and I discussed the close background problem before we left for the park. He even pointed out that a schoolgirl error would be to take my picture against the background of my office wall, which made me laugh because this was the exact location for my rogues’ gallery of bad LinkedIn shots. Rumbled! Anyway, that confirmed what NOT to do! Off to the park we went! Having a bit of space allowed John to move around to capture the best image, and made the whole thing stress-free. More importantly, I am really happy with the background to my images.
#5 Avoid wide angle lenses.
John’s tip: They can distort the individual’s features if too close.
Here’s how it worked for me: I, for one, am certainly happy to have avoided any further widening of features! Thanks, John!
So, without further ado, I can unveil my brand new LinkedIn profile image. Ta dah!