Profile pics. I’m sure you’ve seen some doozies in your time: The “no-shirt-check-out-my-abs” style, the “I’ve cropped out my ex-boyfriend” style, the “I really don’t like the way I look, so I will make myself teeny-tiny in a landscape” ones, and my all time favourite (not!), the “I’ll pull a goofy face and point to the right so that it looks like I’m pointing to my name” shot.
So what does make a good profile pic?
Just like in one of my previous posts (on product photography), I’m going to answer that by saying “It depends”.
In truth, there is some room to move on what makes the “right” profile pic for you. A personal trainer, dance teacher or yoga instructor can probably get away with wearing lycra in their profile pic, but what would you think about a financial planner whose profile picture was a shot of them in sportswear in the gym? If you are a lawyer, and you want a profile pic for LinkedIn or other professional circles, then you probably will want something pretty straight laced, that makes you look competent and professional. If, however, you are wanting to attract recently separated women into your practice and you are planning an advertising campaign across Facebook, other social media sites, and local newspapers, then you will probably do better with a photo that still makes you look professional and competent, but is a little softer and more approachable.
Here’s Jen, who has several strings to her bow, so we created a range of different looks for her.
And an “I’m an accountant, but don’t you dare make me look like one” approach for this lady (who also happens to be called Jenny).
A conservative look for Camille, who works at a high level in the fields of finance, law, and policy
And one quiet, and one playful look for Kayte, who you may know better as Mrs Woog. If you’ve read her blog, you’ll understand the need for both!
How often should a profile pic be updated?
Most people don’t update their profile picture(s) often enough….but then you knew I’d say that. What else would you expect from a portrait photographer? A lot of people can get away with using the same shot for a couple of years. If you’ve been really clever about your choice of clothing and the style of the shot such that they’re pretty ‘timeless’, then you may be able to stretch its use out a little longer. For most of us, though, our looks change considerably in that time. And the older you are, the more the aging process speeds up, the more frequently you need to update your photos. Debra Sinclair of Liquid Mango Consulting recommends having professional portraits taken “at least every 18 months to 2 years”, and social media strategist Paula Agius of Social Cocktails says that if she had enough flattering images of herself, she would update them with every new season, or even as frequently as once per month.
Why so frequently?
She says, “What’s great about updating your profile picture is that notifications of this update are pushed out to your network by most of the social platforms and [these] are weighted with higher importance to other competing content”. So updating your profile pic can in fact be part of your social media strategy. How simple is that?
Bettina Deda of BD Colour Design uses this very strategy in her business. She says, “I update my profile [picture] depending on milestones or interesting projects in the business, or if I have published a new book.”
Clever, don’t you think?
In summary, here are some reasons you should consider having a professional portrait taken for your business
- You are currently using a poorly taken selfie
- You are currently using a photo of yourself cropped from a group pic
- Your current photo is more than a few years old
- You have had some major change to your appearance (e.g. lost or gained weight, significant change to your hair style or colour, you have started wearing glasses all the time)
- You are targeting a different segment of your market
- You are re-branding
- You have a promotion or a campaign coming up where you will be needing a range of good images to use in a co-ordinated manner for social media, press releases and print campaigns