Or: The Photos I Left Out
Or: Avoid trying to be too clever with your profile photo.
As a creative person, you’ll be having ideas left, right and centre about your profile photo. This is going to be THE photograph you hope will convey you and all your character, charisma, coolness and damned good looks to the pubic. Showing who is behind the words on a website is vital. I can’t think of anything more important to help an online connection to your audience than an image of a real person looking back at them.
As I’ve said before, my advice for creating an effective profile photo is: Keep it simple, look professional and don’t clutter the image. It’s about you, and your relationship with the viewer, and nothing else.
In the rush of ideas when recently thinking about a photo for a friend and colleague, I temporarily forgot the above rule. I regained sanity in the end, but not before coming up with these nuggets to avoid:
You know, like a still from a film or an episode of The Killing. Bedraggled, exhausted, yet alert, in a hallway, just seeing a mystery person/threat/fire (out of shot) for the first time. Steadying oneself against the wall, the jacket hanging off one shoulder.
It looks cool to appear part of a narrative, but that means the real you is not in the photo. And have you seen real actors’ profile pics? You can’t get more straightforward.
The knowing, ironic business shot.
Desk? Check. Suit and tie? Check. Keyboard/pen/flip chart/all of the above? Check. Cheesy grin? Of course.
Don’t go there. Some people actually have to live a life like that every day, and you’re making fun of them. They, and people who love them, will hate you for it.
Jumping, moving, shouting.
For God’s sake, keep still. Or at least be static in the photo. A dancer caught mid-air in great light is a beautiful thing, but a blurred person shaking, twisting, turning, jumping will not come over well. And have you tried to keep a moving person in focus, without camera shake? Very tricky. Remember what you are trying to achieve with the photo.
A bright beam shone from the side, or above? Perfect for sci-fi, horror or thriller films, but completely mystifying to anyone wanting to get a feel for who you are. Unless you’re a mad person. You can just about get away with bright back-lighting and fill-in flash on the face, but you really need to know what you’re doing.
Do I need to go on? I actually once considered this, before sense got back control of the wheel and I realised how silly I was being.
Something not a real person.
Oh dear. You might think that your favourite plant, animal, sunrise, fictional TV character, car, motorbike, room, landmark, etc, is a perfect representation of your personality, but all is shows is that you want to hide yourself. I admit, it can work perfectly well on Facebook or Twitter. Unfortunately it isn’t going to be right for LinkedIn, your website front page or your blog byline pic.
All the above can actually work really well if you are in a band, circus, theatre group or some other kind of performing arts. Go for it. It’s what people expect of you.
But if you are trying to relate to anyone even remotely businesslike, practical, serious or official, you have to play it like a pro. Keep to a clear, friendly, you-focussed image that won’t leave anyone confused, laughing or scared off.
Help people to want to get to know you. 🙂