These days there’s no excuse for a bad social networking photo. A bad photo looks unprofessional and can diminish your chances with prospective clients. A good one can accentuate your personality. Your website bio, LinkedIn bio, and Facebook photo all communicate something about you to the public. Like it or not, we are judged partly by how we look. With a free app, a cell phone with a built-in camera, and some good technique, you can take a great bio photo. Here’s how.
- The App: http://www.photofeeler.com/
Upload your photo to Photofeeler and other users will give feedback about whether your photo makes you look competent, likeable, and influential. The rating in each category tells you what percentile your photo ranks in, so anything over 50% means you’re better than average. Photofeeler is free to use if you’re willing to rate others – you get credit for each review, and when you have enough credits, you can have your photo rated by 20 to 80 users. If you’d rather just get your ratings in a hurry, then you can pay about $10 (CDN) and buy a block of credits for 40 users to rate your photo.
Experiment with several different photos and use the one with the best rating.
- The Camera
Most cell phones take perfectly acceptable bio photos. You don’t need a high resolution camera because bio photos tend to be very small, often thumbnail-sized. What you do need is good lighting, good posture, and good technique.
Research shows that the background doesn’t affect how you are perceived. So this gives you freedom to get creative with a background. If you’re taking the photo outdoors, do so when the sun is near the horizon, typically in the first hour after sunrise and in the hour before sunset. If indoors, choose a spot opposite a window with a white wall behind you. You want to use natural diffused light, so avoid having the sun shining directly into the room.
Set your cell phone up at the level of your head, put it on a timer, and strike a pose. You’ll want to capture your head and shoulders, and perhaps down to your waist. Capturing your head alone is too intimate, and capturing below the waist is too casual.
- Strike a pose
Squinch. What’s that, you say? Squinching is a technique coined by professional photographer Peter Hurley (click the link to see how it’s done). Photofeeler’s research shows squinching can greatly improve a bio photo. It’s a subtle squint that makes everyone look better. Figure out how to do it in the mirror and suddenly you project more confidence.
Another tried and true technique is to stick out your forehead and angle it downward. This will make your face and jawline look better defined and slimmer.
If your body faces the camera this can look intimidating – it’s the same thing when someone stands with their shoulders squared to you. Try turning your body slightly away from the camera, while keeping your face looking directly into the camera.
Play around with different poses and use Photofeeler to figure out what your best photo is. In no time at all you’ll arrive at a great bio photo.
Ian Hu, Toronto