Displaying the wrong profile picture to your social network can make an even worse impression.
Friends will see the joke behind your new quirky profile pic, but new acquaintances will take it seriously. So with the quirky quashed, how do we avoid giving anyone an opportunity to make an unintended judgement about you? Don’t think that you can get away with not posting a picture at all, that’s like refusing a handshake all together.
Basing any judgement on a photo alone is unreasonable and liable to show prejudice. However we’re programmed to measure and assess other people from any cue we can, so it’s difficult to be unaffected in how we treat the person behind the profile.
But we can use social networking images to steer the impression people get of us. Good pics give people a chance to put a face to the name, to confirm that you are the witty charmer they met last night and not the sweaty bore. If someone’s thinking of offering you work, won’t they first want to check you out? Do you look like someone they could work with? Are you more or less like them? And when did you ever hear someone say; ‘I’ve got a great memory for names, it’s faces I struggle with’?
Your face is your logo. In the age of the biometric passport the picture’s not your only identifier, but across a range of social media websites your mug shot works just the same as a corporate logo. Just think how much effort companies take to get a logo right, and then how much they use them.
So here’re some steps to looking the best you can.
– Welcome the attention of the camera, remember it’s your potential life partner or new client you are greeting. So no pressure!
– Nervous now? Try closing your eyes, think of the person who loves you the best, imagine them standing in place of the camera, open your eyes and give them your warmest smile.
– A gurning smile is not warm.
– Show you’re trustworthy by meeting the viewer’s eye directly – which means looking at the camera.
– Clothes still count, dress appropriately for your line of work and look like you care, Facebook pics can be casual and LinkedIn formal, so perhaps pitch it in between.
– Make an effort with your grooming, but if you’re not a model don’t try to look like one. And men, comb your hair!
– Get someone else to work the camera for you, but tell them to fill the frame with you.
– You don’t need lots of megapixels, but if you use a camera on a phone make sure there isn’t a greasy thumbprint over the lens. And they’re worse than tummy buttons for holding on to fluff.
– Plenty of light, the camera can’t work well without it, but not direct sunlight. Sunshine will make you squint, put you in silhouette or cast unsightly shadows.
– It’s behind you! What is? The thing that’s taking the attention away from your face. The plainer the background the better.
If you don’t want to get shot, don’t hand out ammunition!
More on headshot photography