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Move LifeStyle

Make your Profile Picture Work for You

Make Your Profile Picture Work for you

Your resume is perfect. Your qualifications are stellar. Your interpersonal skills are phenomenal. You are the whole package. So WHY are you still getting passed over for that promotion or first date?

Check Your Profile Photo Often

Whether it’s “just” on social media or on your company’s corporate directory, you better believe that the people you want to reach are doing their homework, checking you out before making any major professional or personal decisions about you. And while it may be very true that your qualifications as an awesome person and business rock star are above and beyond where they need to be, the fact is that our image–how we choose to represent ourselves to the world–directly informs how the world perceives and interacts with us.

Here I am on set with my photographer husband Adam Hendershott, shooting with Emma Roberts for BaubleBar.

Here I am on set with my photographer husband Adam Hendershott, shooting with Emma Roberts for BaubleBar.

Real World Eye Candy

Our daily lives contain a bombardment of visuals that it’s easy to forget each and every single image produced by a company or brand, (whether it’s on Instagram, a billboard on the side of the street, or a magazine cover in the grocery checkout line), is a product of a carefully-crafted, and consciously-curated conversation.

Every professional photo represents countless hours of brainstorming and vision boards, lead-up and day-of preparation, and coordination involving a team of several people. Don’t forget the post-production work: photo selection, layout design, color correction and retouching, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in budgets. Minimum.

All the time and money it takes to produce a photograph is, at its core, a business investment in image and brand identity that major companies deem crucial enough to take part in several times a season. Without those visuals, their product, (movie, tv show, celebrity, home decor or fashion accessory, etc.) would be unsellable.

Emma Roberts for Bauble Bar - Move LifeStyle

What Does this Mean for You?

Your image is perhaps the most important selling tool at your disposal.

While it might not be in your budget or lifestyle to produce your own $25,000+ photoshoot a few times a year, the lesson to learn from the big dogs is that your image is of absolute importance and worth the attention, both in a personal and professional setting.

Think about it. When you meet somebody new in person at a bar, friend’s house or career mixer, the common first order of business is to go home and google them. When you’re referred to a new realtor, esthetician or dog walker, isn’t your first instinct the same?

Based on what you find, are you excited to find out more about this person or company and spend your valuable time or money with them? What social networks do they maintain actively? What is their website about? Based on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp and (fill-in-the-blank-internet-platform), what is this person or company really all about?

Every professional photo represents countless hours of brainstorming and vision boards, lead-up and day-of preparation, and coordination involving a team of several people. Don't forget the post-production work: photo selection, layout design, color correction and retouching, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in budgets.

Every professional photo represents countless hours of brainstorming and vision boards, lead-up and day-of preparation, and coordination involving a team of several people. Don’t forget the post-production work: photo selection, layout design, color correction and retouching, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in budgets.

But, Wait. Rewind.

If the main profile photos don’t resonate with what you’re looking for in a friend, romantic interest, professional contact or service provider, you, like any audience, might not even get to asking those important questions.

That split-second first impression, based on a photograph that has captured merely a split-second in time in this person’s existence, can set up an entire framework and tone by which he or she is perceived and judged. The same is true for you. Superficial? Maybe. Reality? Absolutely.

By being conscious of the direct effect that a photograph of you has on your online identity and brand, you also create for yourself a major opportunity to reach your target audience, be it a prospective employer or eHarmony subscriber.

You have the power and ability to put your best face forward, and effectively communicate who you are and what you’re all about.

Example: Ashley, An Easy Fix

For example, my friend Ashley is a successful real estate agent in San Diego.

This first photo was taken by a friend.

This first photo was taken by a friend.

While the first shot is a beautiful photo of my gorgeous friend, it simply wasn’t establishing her as the knowledgeable-yet-approachable expert that is. A short 20-minute session with a staff photographer on The Headshot Truck was able to yield a photo that was right on target with the image she wanted to create. Clean light, a put-together appearance, and a warm smile can go a long way.

This second picture was taken on The Headshot Truck - much better.

This second picture was taken on The Headshot Truck. Much better.

Now that you see how easy your solution could be, let’s go over why your photo might not be working for you.

TOP 5 PROFILE PHOTO BUMMERS

  1. No photo. A cardinal sin. We’re living in a visual world, so you gotta be a visual girl. If you want to get what you want, that is.
    OR
    A photo that hides your face. Could be artsy, but could also be received as untrustworthy or cagey. What exactly are you hiding and why?
  2. An outdated, amateur or every-day photo. Posting a cropped photo from your family reunion from a decade ago is the equivalent of showing up in gym shorts to a dinner party. When it comes to your professional image and dating profile, a little effort is always appreciated. And if you don’t care about making a good first impression in those settings, then what other priorities might you dismiss or overlook, especially once the honeymoon period is over? It’s all downhill from there.
  3. Photo isn’t relevant or applicable to intended industry or purpose. A little common sense. A banker’s LinkedIn profile photo would not at all translate to her Tinder profile, which in turn would do nothing to support her personal training business. Be mindful of what you’re trying to communicate in each avenue, and make sure your photo supports that.
  4. Photo doesn’t establish a positive emotional connection. Expression and body language communicate volumes by making your audience feel something, and for better or for worse, a visceral response or instinctive conclusion only take a split-second to reach. Make sure your profile photo packs a positive punch.
  5. Distracting visual details. An audience can’t come away with a clear message about you if their focus is pulled by a million things, like weird light, or funky hair. Give them one or two main things to come away with, max. One of those better be an impression of how awesome you are, and the other one better be a how or why, not a how or why not.

Is your Profile Picture working for you? Move LifeStyle
Might be time for a new photo, right? In the next installments of this series, I’ll walk you through the whole process of getting new photos done, from crystallizing your objective at the beginning, to figuring out who will shoot it, to picking images to use after your session.

More Posts by Sylvia

Author Description

Sylvia Hendershott

Sylvia Hendershott is co-owner & Social Media Manager of The Headshot Truck. Sought after for her keen eye, honed working with celebrity/comercial kids’ photographer Adam Hendershott, Sylvia has sculpted images for over a decade. Her work has been featured in E, Esquire, People, US Weekly, and Maxim, and her writing can be found here on Move LifeStyle and Ms In The Biz.


Move LifeStyle is an e-zine for the modern working woman created by Autumn Reeser, Jenn Wong and Ashley Fauset.

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