Your Profile Image: Tips for Success

Your Profile Image: Tips for Success

Last week I wrote about how to get started with LinkedIn. One of the action items was to have a professional photo for your profile image. You are not a cartoon, a three year old child or a pet. I can’t tell you how many times I have clicked on a profile, received a request or noticed in comments, a profile image that is not professional. Do you really want prospective employers or clients to view you as a cartoon? How about with a drink in hand? I recently received a LinkedIn request from an education professional. I was shocked to see that he was in a t-shirt and holding a beer surrounded by many other party friends. I’m positive I would not hire this person to be an educational advocate for my child. Would you?

I suggest establishing your “brand” using an image that is;

  1. A current photo of you and only you
  2. Professional
  3. Headshot from your shoulders up
  4. You wearing clothing that sets the right tone for your business and credibility
  5. High resolution

I know you are probably saying, “but I don’t like to have my picture taken” or “is it really that important?” The answers are simple.

They will look at your image and judge your credibility, your likability and decide if they might want to work with you. Now that I’ve said that, do you think it’s important?

When I first began working in social media I did not have a professional image. Everyone I was in groups with, took classes with and met in person all had professional images on their social media pages, website and sometimes business cards. I can easily say that it sets a tone. It establishes them as serious about their profession and serious about their image (or branding). I can’t believe I am going to share this with you, but for the sake of making a point, here are my before and after profile images. As you can tell, the first image was taken at an event. In the original image, I was sitting with my son. He is cropped out. The resolution is awful. It is simply not professional.

Sonja Pound | Gramercy Social | Brand Concierge | Professional Photos

Just a few months ago I invested, yes I said invested, in professional images. I strongly believe you get what you pay for. Hire a seasoned pro. Do not hire your neighbors high schooler that happens to be taking a photography class. A professional photographer will consider your background, posture, clothing colors, makeup, hair and so much more. When I had my photos taken, Debbie of Art+Life Photography worked to position me so that my shoulders didn’t appear too broad. She also reminded me to put my chin down a bit and lead with my forehead. What the heck is that? I had never heard of that before. But, when she showed me the difference I was amazed.

Pro Image | Sonja Pound | Gramercy SocialWardrobe Tips

Choose colors that you look good in, but take into consideration your brand colors. Here’s what I mean by that.  If you look great in purple, but your logo and website/social media branding is turquoise, purple is probably not the best idea.

 I also suggest that you do not wear white. It tends to wash out skin tones and make people look “flat”. If you wear glasses, ask your photographer if they suggest you have the lenses removed for the session. Sometimes glasses create a glare and also make it more difficult to edit/touch up your eye area.


A great photographer will be able to work with your image. You do not want to look plastic or too photoshopped, so be careful. However, if you have a blemish on photo shoot day, don’t panic. Your photographer will be able to easily erase. When applying makeup for your photo shoot, use just slightly more than you would on a normal day. Think Jennifer Aniston in the Aveeno commercials, not Peg Bundy in Married with Children. Another easy fix using Photoshop Actions is to add color to lips, cheeks, erase dark circles, add more mascara and soften any shiny areas.

Bonus Tips

You are probably spending a decent amount of money on your images. While you are on location, ask your photographer to;

  • Take some background images. These could come in handy when updating your website or creating cover images for social media.
  • Take some lifestyle images of you walking, sitting, on iPad or other device, meeting with a “client”…
  • Take some images of you in horizontal (landscape) orientation. Think Facebook, Twitter and Youtube cover images. You can only stretch a vertical (portrait) image so far.

Be sure to keep reading my blog. In a few weeks I’ll tell you all about my comedy of errors when having recent photos taken. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experience having professional profile images taken. Do you have any tips and tricks of your own to pass along? Post them in the comments below.

For more information on your professional profile image and LinkedIn, go here.

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Let’s focus on what you need and how I can help. Whether it’s Facebook management, a review of your website, testing of a new product, critique of packaging and shipping, undercover customer visits or anything in between – let me know. My goal is to give you more time to focus on your business and clients, while I handle the rest.

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  1. Nancy says:

    Sonja, super tips for professional profile pictures including wardrobe and makeup recommendations. Love the bonus tips for including “lifestyle” images. Look forward to the next in the series!

  2. Caroline says:

    Those are great tips and I agree that if you are a professional and are posting a pic of yourself on Linkedin then it need to be professional. You can have more fun with your personal page profile pics!

  3. Skye says:

    I’ve lost track of how many bad photos I’ve seen on bloggers’ sites who want to work with brands. Be professional! No one wants to see you and 1/3 of someone else in “your” headshot.

  4. Fatmata says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing these great tips! I will definitely come back to this post next time I’m taking pictures for a post.

    Have a great weekend,

  5. I’ve done my fair share of work in front of the camera and audiences. What I think has helped me on photo shoots to really connect with the camera is when I had my favorite songs playing in the background. It really helps with the ambiance and helps loosen you up.

    • Sonja Pound says:

      Great idea! I think it’s easy to get caught up in trying to make everything perfect, so music could certainly help bring out a person’s fun, relaxed side. Your photos are amazing!

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