Five tips to get the best LinkedIn profile photo

Five tips to get the best LinkedIn profile photo

I was on a portrait shoot last week with a very interesting woman. While I was taking her photo for her LinkedIn profile and about me page of her website, we got chatting about the awful business photos that people have on LinkedIn. So I thought it might be an interesting blog post to write five tips to get a great profile shot and give some advice from a professional portrait photographer. 


1. Call in the professionals

Now I know this is an article on getting the best LinkedIn profile business photo, written by a professional photographer on a photographers website, however please bear with me.

Just go and have a look at the many many profile shots / avatars on LinkedIn and see how easily you can spot which ones were taken by a professional photographer and which ones were not. 

Which ones were a holiday snap and which ones are a selfie taken on a phone. Which ones have great and flattering lighting and which ones look like a police mug shot.

Spend a few minutes looking and it’s not hard to see and spot the difference.

What are you using LinkedIn for?

The bottom line is that It’s to advertise yourself. Your biggest asset. The thing you want to invest in the most and the thing you want the best for.

So why use a badly lit, holiday snap mug shot to do so? Get a professional to help you out. 


2. Keep it simple

If you look at the profile images on LinkedIn, you really don’t get much real estate. So you really need to make your profile photo stand out. 

Don’t have a busy background, don’t be wearing loud or over the top clothes, look at the photos which stand out and why they stand out.

Your head and shoulders, as that’s all you really get (unless you’re me and have a floating head) should stand out from the background which really shouldn't be distracting.

It may be a nice photo of you against some colourful graffiti, but what does that say about you and what is going to stand out more in the image?


3. Dress appropriately

LinkedIn is for business and work, so although it may seem like i’m teaching you to suck eggs, dress how you would for work. 

You’d be surprised how many people have photos of them in Hawaiian shirts or logo / slogan T-shirts. 

Try to wear what you think appropriate for an interview or business meeting and avoid patters and loud colours.

Think the word ‘professional’ when deciding what to wear. Also bear in mind that well known saying ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.


4. Smile

What!!! But i’m a serious business person. So what? People want to work with people they like.

Don’t look intimidating, try to look friendly and approachable. Even the slightest of smiles will just soften your face that little bit.

If you’re coming across like a police mug shot, try angling your feet away from the camera and this should naturally turn your shoulders away and then turn your head back and you’ll add some interest to your pose. 

Have the camera at eye level or slightly higher, don’t ever go low and don’t go too high. Now is not the time for that selfie pout or head tilt. Again think professional. Your photographer should be able to help you with posing slightly and still be able to keep it natural.

If you’re struggling for a genuine smile, an old tip that I use is to think of someone who makes you smile or a funny situation you’ve been in, and then you’ll have a genuine happy face which shows in the eyes.

And if that fails use the old Julie Andrews (you know, Mary Poppins) tip. Never say the word ‘cheese’ as it doesn’t look good on camera. Instead say ‘money!’.


5. Edit your photo

Did you know that you can actually edit your photo very easily on LinkedIn?

Yes that’s right, there are various filters which you can apply through the site itself. Just click on your picture. Some are over the top, but consider putting your image into black and white to simplify it and make it stand out. If you have managed to wear something that is a bit too busy or too bright, just putting it into black and white can really help.

 An example of how a black and white image can make distracting clothing stand out less.

An example of how a black and white image can make distracting clothing stand out less.

Or if you just want to increase the brightness / contrast, saturation etc. you can easily do that too. As well as cropping or zooming your image. For some reason LinkedIn crops the image to a circle so that’s something else to bear in mind when your choosing and editing your picture. Have a look first to see how it is with a square crop and that should give you a good idea.

So don’t worry about not having or being able to use Photoshop, just go ahead and use the LinkedIn tool. But remember to only do so if it’s adding and helping your profile photo to stand out.


That’s about it for now, so hopefully if you follow these very simple tips you can help to banish a few more of those awful business profile shots on LinkedIn. Next time you're on the site just have a look and see how many you can spot that you think could be improved.

If you’d like to find out more about how to look good in staff / company head shots have a look at this post that I wrote all about it.

Or do get in contact to see how I can help you improve your profile shot.


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