Saturday, 24 January 2015

Finding the Best Profile Photo.

Unlike just 20 years ago, when we met people in person before ever seeing their face, Your profile photo posted on social media is probably the first impression people will have of you. We all know how important those first impressions are, so making sure you have a great profile picture on your social media can make the difference between getting that new job or date and just missing it. 


Not sure which photo really is your best? Recently I discovered a website service that helps you find out. It's like a mini market research for your image. It's an image rating service called PhotoFeeler (www.photofeeler.com).

Creating an account is free and to use the service all you have to do is rate 10 other people's photos. Once you have done that, you can upload a photo and have it rated by 10 random strangers. 

The feedback you receive from people who do not know you will give you a clearer understanding of how other people perceive your photo and you might just be surprised by which one is really considered the best.

If you rate more peoples' images, you can upload more photos so you can compare the ratings and discover which is the best to use on your profile, or you can have more people rate the same image providing more accurate feedback. The more people rating your photo, the better the results and the easier it is to make a choice as to which photo you should use.


Of course, you might want to wear your "thick skin" when you look at the ratings, or read the comments. People can be critical. (one person commented on the photo above that they thought I was holding a rolled towel - well, I guess they didn't see the camera. Laugh and move on). But then that's the purpose of the exercise - not to feel good about the images, but to help you find the one people actually like!

If you haven't taken your profile photo yet, then here are some tips for taking the best profile photos:

Find a good background
A plain or simple background is best - it is less distracting and keeps the viewer's attention on the subject - you! Use a blank wall painted with an attractive colour. If you have to use a location with elements in the background, try to adjust your camera so the background is blurred. Objects such as Christmas trees in the background can date a photo and certainly no-one wants to see your dirty laundry behind you, so choose where you take the photo carefully.

Use good lighting
Choose lighting that will make you look attractive. Perhaps you thought it would be nice to have a silhouette, which lighting from behind will do, but it will not let people know what you really look like. Getting too close to the camera and using direct flash will tend to blow out your face making it hard to distinguish details. Try standing close to a north facing window where natural light will generally light the window side of your face and bounced light from the room will light the other with less intensity. 

Dress the part
Consider the job or date you are looking to attract with your photo. If you are a lawyer, it is probably best not to take the photo in your yoga outfit. If you are a personal trainer on the other hand, it is probably best not to wear a three piece suit. Select clothing in subdued colours and without distracting patterns. Keep the focus on your face, not how you dress.

Find a good expression
This can be the hardest of all of them because we are not used to creating an expression at will; it tends to happen naturally. So try to imagine yourself in the situation you want others to see you in and use that look - practice in a mirror. Look into the camera lens because in your photo you will be looking at the person looking at you. You want to make eye contact with them - show them you are interested in them.

Pose with purpose
Just as your expression portrays an emotion, so does your pose. Generally you don't want to have your body facing the camera straight on, unless you are posing with a numbered sign in front of you and the person taking the photo is wearing a police uniform. Turn your body slightly and look back at the camera. Looking away from the camera might be "artsy" and might fit you purpose, but it tends to make you look distracted and not interested in the person viewing the image. That will make them, in turn, less interested in you.

If you can, hire a professional
All of these tips are useful when taking your own photo, however, we never really see ourselves the way others do. We always filter our own image through our own experience. A professional photographer will look at you through different eyes and make adjustments to your pose, your expression, the background and the lighting that will help you bring out the characteristics you want others to see. Talk with them about what you want to use the photo for and what you want it to portray and together you can make an image that will "sell" you.

Whether you find a professional or take the photo yourself, do not just grab the first photo you find of yourself and post it on social media. Take some time to find the best one and stand out in the sea of faces. 

If you are in the Kitchener/Waterloo area and need a new profile photo, be sure to look me up: www.garyslens.ca I would be happy to help you create your best profile photo!

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