9 Profile Photo Types – Which Are You?

LINKED IN – TWITTER – FACEBOOK – all need a great profile photo

We all social media – we’re all on Linked IN, Facebook and Twitter, they all use profile photograph to identify us.

In most cases, this photo is the first impression people have of you!

So what impression is your profile photo giving?

profile photo

Recognise Yourself – The 10 Profile Photo Types?

1 Egghead – No Picture

Some have no profile picture, this leaves the picture holder empty or with a default grey silhouette. What does this say about you?

Having no avatar can give messages like:-

  • “You’re hiding something” or
  • “You’ve not bought into this yet” or maybe even
  • “You’re a spammer”

So if its not a good idea to leave your profile empty, you could still hide by putting up a stock images, perhaps a cartoon figure or something on those lines. This gives a more powerful message than the empty avatar, but you have to beware of the message its giving.

2 Cartoon Hero

Maybe taking on the persona of Captain Caveman is amusing for a few days, but perhaps a potential client seeing that on LinkedIn would get the wrong impression.

An exception would be to use your company logo, but only do this on company accounts, not personal ones. It promotes brand consistency across your social media platform.

3 Pet-Tastic

Other common avatars are peoples pets, which are usually very endearing and often invoke an “ahhhhhh” reaction, but it’s not really appropriate for business (unless you’re a vet or run a cattery/kennel)!

Maybe use these on Facebook – but not your LINKED IN profile.

4 Little Jonny

People with new children often use their baby’s smiling face as an avatar, which again gets the “ahhhhhhhh” reaction, and can act as an ice breaker if other new parents are looking at your profile, but its not really “business”. For some non-parents, the prospect of “baby talk” can be quite off putting.

profile photo

5 Be Brave – Show your Face

So we come to the portrait – are you big enough to let people see you?

With digital cameras, phones, webcams and probably the next generation of toasters, we can now all capture images digitally and get them online very easily. Just about every website has made it so incredibly easy to do so, its second nature.

6 DIY Photographer

Most portraits are “self portraits” that follow this formula:-

  • taken at arms length
  • the camera high above the sitters head,
  • often with a bit of arm on one side of the shot,
  • certainly an un-natural shoulder position and
  • usually with a facial expression they only ever have when taking a self portrait!

They are fine for the social side of the Facebook, they are friendly, engaging, easy to relate to and you can change them every day, keep people guessing what look you will have on the next day. But for business they’re not giving that “slightly serious” look which “means business”. All a bit heath-robinson.

7 Group Shot

Another favourite is the group shot (or just your face cut out of a group shot). These are usually taken in the pub after Tequilla Slammers, arms around your mates, bleary eyed, rosey face and generally looking very very merry. Fantastic for social use, conveys that fun loving persona and the fact that you’re still able to party hard… but is it business?

8 The Wedding Shot

How about the “wedding shot” – not just the bride and groom, often the guests and especially the bridesmaids. These are photos of you looking at your very best, its a wedding after all. But what does it say about you…. maybe you only look good at weddings, the rest of the time… ?

profile photo

9 Get a Professional in

So we come to the professional photograph, this certainly gets across a feeling of credibility. The fact that you “value” your profile sufficiently to invest in great photos says a lot.

But not all “professional photographers” are the same. Its a bit like assuming that all authors write the same book or all artists paint the same pictures. They are a diverse breed, with ideas bubbling away in their brain like a cauldron full of magic potions. Some may be amazing at shooting woodpeckers or the Dales at sunset, but would have no idea how to work with a “human”.

It’s definitely worth researching the local pool of photographers rather than plumping for the first one you see.

You can do this easily on their websites, Flickr, Facebook and even Twitter. Google is an option, but the photographers who are on the top pages are there because of great SEO, not necessarily great photography.

Also ask for recommendations from your network. Take care to look at their portfolio, because the “look” they achieved for the guy who recommended them may not be what you are after.

Another approach is to go through your friend lists on social media, look at their avatars and find ones you like the look of, then message that friend to find out who did their shots, they’ll be more than happy to pass on their details.

profile photo

Get the Right Shot by Talking

Many business profile shots are quick affairs, shot in the office or in front of a blue background, shirt and tie (or equivalent for women), lighting which you got in your school photos and an expression that’s “old school” or solemn.

That’s fine and what many people want, especially corporates – it gives a strong impression and means business, but it doesn’t make you stand out from the crowd. Standing out for the entrepreneur differentiates them from the competition.

Ideally you should have in mind the kind of look you are after so you can talk it over with your photographer. You don’t have to get technical, maybe just mention a TV program or bring a magazine with photos in, or just try your best to say what you want to look like, that’ll give the photographer a great head start in his thinking process.

profile photo

Its also important to mention the use of the photos, as you can use them for things other than just your avatar. If you want to use the shot as a header image for a page on your website, then tell the photographer and they can leave space to the side of you. If it’s going to be a vertical panel down the side of your web page, the photographer can do that too.

If you want a “sense of location”, then organise the shoot at that location, so that you can have iconic buildings as your backdrop – there’s no rule stating that you need to be in the office or studio, we can go anywhere and make a studio quality image these days.

profile photo

If you need to convey a selection of moods, expressions or looks, discuss this with the photographer – they will make sure they cover all those as the shoot progresses.

If you need some business-wear and some casual-wear shots, bring along a change of clothes – maybe just a different top or coat will do for location shoots, a full change is possible in the studio. You can always nip into the a hotel and change a top in their toilet if need be.

Think about where you are most comfortable or where people will associate with you – maybe its in the city, maybe a class room, maybe in the board room, maybe on the fells and moors, maybe in the bar…. you know best.

The more information and ideas you have to start with, the more you can aim for and the more likely you are to achieve the desired image…

…..and a strong image WILL give a fantastic first impression to anyone viewing your profile on social media

6 thoughts on “9 Profile Photo Types – Which Are You?”

  1. Great blog, I love peoples profile pics. If you type a name into ‘google’ and ask for the images it’s intriguing to see what comes up.
    My favourite is a FB friend who has her bum in opaque tight showing her pants – I ask you!
    I have developed a colour popping style to my self portraits.
    I hope it shows my fun side & is a bit more interesting.
    However, a colleague said it was awful & I should change it.
    Best advise (from me, a PR person) is to use a professional photographer but first think to the type of image you want.
    Remember too these pics are very small!
    Thanks for your VIEW, Jo

  2. That’s certainly a different avatar your friend’s got Jo 😉 What’s not to like about that !

    Colour popping can work really well when done lightly, amazing how many brides love it too, everything mono except the flowers is popular.



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  5. Brilliant, Ade! I love to go through the ‘People you may know’ screen and pick fault at people’s LinkedIn profile pics on my workshops. The best one I saw was a picture of 2 blokes in the pub with a golden retriever – 3 sins committed in one photo!

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