What makes a “good” photo is subjective and somewhat elusive, right?
When you are talking about art photography, yes. What appeals to one person may not make any impression on another. In the case of LinkedIn profile pictures, however, there are some basic principles that apply. I have addressed some of these in my earlier articles here and here, and in response many readers have asked me to post what I would consider “good” LinkedIn profile shots. So here are some great shots of four different men (credit: Adobe Images, not real profiles).
Remember that the tone of your LinkedIn profile photo should match the brand that you wish to portray. If you want to project that you have executive presence, your LinkedIn profile photo should communicate that (see images 1 and 2 below). If you tend toward the creative in your work – regardless of your field, from visual, theater or culinary arts to science, technology or even (in some cases) finance – a more creative photo may be appropriate (see image 3 below). If you are a professional but more about substance than form and rarely wear a suit, you may wish to skip the suit in your profile picture (see image 4 below). In all, your LinkedIn photo and profile generally should be a calling card for who you are if someone were to meet you in “real life” (in a business context, of course).
Remember that your LinkedIn profile picture will likely not be the same size as the original image, so pay attention to the background and finer details with an eye for the ultimate image as it will look when cropped to size. In image 3 above, the peeling paint (and tousled hair) add to the creative look of this shot, but otherwise the above backgrounds are interchangeable and not tied to the image each is hoping to portray. Some people like to have a background with more “visual information” while others prefer a clean, neutral look. Note that neither of the original shots for the first two images were centered, and in the second one the background could have been distracting in the original composition but it nonetheless works for LinkedIn.
One last note, as I see this far too often on LinkedIn (and almost as much as a shot of someone with another person cropped out – don’t do that!). Make sure that when you take an image or have one taken of you, that the camera is or zooms in close enough to the subject so that the image does not look blurry or pixilated when cropped. Below is an extreme example, but I see this often with clients who have a spouse or friend take a picture and then send it to me for review. If you are out of focus, you will not project the confidence and presence that you wish to convey.
This last image has another issue, of course, which is that it was cropped very close and has a very light background, so the person looks more like a talking head than a professional candidate.
Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through local booksellers) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond.