When people click on your LinkedIn profile, the first thing they see is your photo. Similarly, it often appears in Google Image searches. It’s crucial that your photo reflects your professionalism and approachability, which can be achieved using these tips for taking a professional LinkedIn profile picture.
Make sure your photo looks like you
LinkedIn helps us to connect with potential clients and people in our industry, so it’s essential to upload a photo that looks like you. That way, when you meet someone ‘in real life,’ or send them an invitation after an amazing event or meeting, they’ll recognise you. If you look entirely different from your profile picture, it can be quite jarring – and in some cases, make people question your credibility.
While it’s tempting to add a filter to your photo, your profile picture should be honest and current. On that note, if you’ve gotten glasses or drastically changed your hair, update your picture. Consistency is key, so roll out your new photo across all your professional platforms, such as your work email.
Top Tip: If people are used to seeing you in glasses, keep them on for your profile picture. But be sure to clean them thoroughly – fingerprints, smudges and dust can easily show up on camera.
Use a plain background when taking a professional LinkedIn profile picture
Your profile picture should be of you – and only you. To present the best possible image of yourself, take your photo against a plain background. Think clean, not cluttered. Ideally, pose in front of a white or neutral-coloured wall. This will ensure the viewer’s eye is drawn to you, and not any objects, pets or people in the background. You’re already competing for attention on LinkedIn, so you don’t want to distract those who are looking at your profile.
If you have a few backgrounds to choose from, take contrast into account. For example, if you have a pale skin tone, choose a darker wall, and if you’re wearing an all-black outfit, opt for a lighter background.
Top Tip: Blurring the background is a powerful way to make your face stand out. To do this, use portrait mode on your smartphone or digital camera. In photography, this technique is known as ‘bokeh.’
Focus on your face
Remember, it’s a headshot, not a full body shot. Your face should take up about 60% of the frame as it gives the viewer a good idea of what you look like without overwhelming them with an extreme close-up. When you’re getting into position, use the classic head-and-shoulders composition. This is not only the most natural way to compose a profile picture, but it’s the easiest! While you need to submit a square-shaped photo to LinkedIn, it will eventually show up as a circle. By snapping a photo with your head and shoulders in it, you’ll have more to work with when you reach the cropping stage.
Top Tip: Let’s talk tech specs! On LinkedIn, the standard profile size is 400×400 pixels, and the file can’t be larger than 8MB. If it’s too big, it’ll be rejected, and if it’s too small, your photo will look fuzzy. To save time, adjust the specs of your photo before you upload it.
You’re using the profile to attract potential professional opportunities, so wear whatever you would wear to work. Pick out a classy outfit that reflects who you are and what you do. This will vary between professions. If you’re in the corporate world, stick with a well-tailored suit. If you work in the fashion or creative fields, you can be a little more playful. While you’re planning your wardrobe, consider what looks good on camera. Steer clear of white, black and patterned tops (they can wash you out), and go for soft, solid colours instead, like blue. Be mindful of the trends, too. Unless you want to update your profile picture every season, skip super-trendy pieces and accessories.
Top Tip: Your hair and makeup should be professional, too. Shine shows up on camera, so it’s a good idea to blot any excess oil before snapping away.
Practice these photographic tricks
Now that you’ve nailed these tips on taking a professional LinkedIn profile picture, there are a few ‘tricks of the trade’ that you can apply. Firstly, find the right light. This can be tricky, but the goal is to shoot your photo in natural light. This will add warmth to your face, whereas bright, direct sunlight or a harsh flash will illuminate your face a little too much. Next, experiment with angles. Then, adjust the camera so that it’s angled down at your face, and not the other way around. Last but not least, relax! Drop your shoulders and smile. The research says smiling with teeth makes people look pleasant and approachable, so flash those pearly whites.
Top Tip: Do you find it hard to smile on command? Try smiling a few times before taking the photo to loosen up your jaw.
Remember to think of your profile picture as a digital-first impression
By taking the time to set up a professional photo, you’ll encourage people to keep scrolling through your profile.
About the author
Matthew Grahame’s passion for photography began in high school, which led to him undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art Photography at RMIT. While studying, Matthew started working for Ted’s Camera Stores as a salesperson, eventually making his way to the company’s digital marketing department. Today he is Ted’s E-commerce content writer where he can combine his love for all things photography with his other passion – writing.
Got your profile pic down pat? Now it’s time to think about your LinkedIn summary!