Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Most people who walk into my studio mention LinkedIn headshots, so I figured it was time to get down some of my thoughts on the subject.
Something is Better than Nothing
If LinkedIn is important to your career, you must have a profile photo of some sort, even if there’s a cat on your shoulder. Your profile is much more likely to be viewed when there’s a photo -- 14 times more likely according to LinkedIn. That’s huge.
Honestly, what is your impression of someone when their profile has one of those ‘not pictured’ avatars next to the name? At best, they appear too lazy to complete their profile. At worst, it makes them seem like some shady character who doesn’t want to be recognized on the street.
Is this the impression you want to give?
Pro is Better
I realize this is completely self-serving coming from a headshot photographer, but you really should just pony up and get a professional portrait. A good headshot costs about the same as a nice dinner, but is tax deductible, will last for years and can’t be ruined by spaghetti sauce.
And just as not having a picture can give an instant bad impression, a professional photo (in mere milliseconds!) can project the confidence, trustworthiness and approachability you want your future employer to see.
The Photo Is Your Front Entrance
I think of the profile photo as the front door to your store. If your sign hasn’t been painted in years or your awning is covered in bird poop, people aren’t likely to come in and see all the great stuff you have inside. If you have a professional headshot, people are more likely to read further and learn about your magna cum laude from Georgetown.
I would add that professional doesn’t just mean photographed with professional lighting. You can go to the mall and get a headshot with professional lighting. Good headshots have lighting and posing tailored to you and your unique face. You may need to be slimmed down, bulked up, turned the right or left, have your jaw or hair highlighted, photographed heroically from below or made more approachable from above. On top of all this, the pro headshot photographer will be adept at helping you to relax and find your best natural facial expression.
There’s more to the headshot session than most people realize -- but it’s also more fun than most people realize. And in the end, you’ve created an engaging, natural image that will draw in everyone who sees it.
Get In Close
A quick note on cropping: LinkedIn profile pictures are pretty small, so you want to cram your face into that frame and make the most of your screen real estate. I like to crop my images from the top of the shoulders to the top of the head.
I know it is scary getting close to that big lens and high resolution camera sensor, but your face is where all the personality is, so that’s where we want to concentrate! If your portrait is being used on another site where it is displayed larger, it’s OK to back off a bit on the crop.
Know Your Audience
For most headshots, you want to convey approachability and confidence. In other words, a combination of “this person can do the job” with “this person is not a jerk.”
Depending on your industry, we can tailor that mood. If you’re a cybersecurity expert fighting foreign hackers, or a financier managing millions of dollars, your clients and employers may care more about the confidence side of the equation. If you’re a pediatrician or psychotherapist, we may want to emphasize your approachable, warm fuzzy side more!
There are many ways to affect the mood of the photo, from the choice of background, angle, lighting and expression. The recipe for every person is different, and this is the sort of thing that a photographer will play with during your studio session.