In theory, you know it’s not difficult to get new photos of yourself. Nah, the phone from your pocket and an outstretched arm can accomplish that much.
But polished, great-looking photos— the kind that you can use on a LinkedIn or Match.com profile with pride— are not as easy to come by.
Fortunately, with just a small dose of guidance, we believe that anyone can create a whole crop of great new shots to choose from in little time. The following is our best advice for doing just that.
1. First, Evaluate Your Look
If you had to guess, what might the clothes you’re wearing and the way you’re groomed say about you to a stranger, given they have no other information to go on?
As I’m currently dressed down in sweatpants, I can imagine a stranger might think I’m younger than I am (like a college student), easygoing, sporty, or lazy.
But that’s not me at all! So the trick to dressing for a photo is to think of traits you would like a stranger to know about you and to wear something that communicates them clearly. Say, if you’re a graphic designer, you could wear one of your most artsy accessories.
2. Take Proper Selfies (That Don’t Look Like Selfies)
The selfie has a lot haters, for sure. But you just can’t beat it when it comes to convenience and privacy. The way I see it, a selfie is better than no photo at all. Now let’s talk about making it count.
First, a little light-hearted fun:
Craft your surroundings carefully
Where most selfies quickly go wrong is they expose the bedroom or bathroom the individual is in. Always be sure that identifying features of the room— window blinds, kitchen cabinets, couches, etc.— are out of the shot.
Find a room in your house that has a window and a solid-colored wall that you can stand in front of. Or, if you can arrange your shoot for a time of day when the sun isn’t too harsh, you can always take your camera outside.
As lighting goes, indirect sunlight (that isn’t causing harsh shadows on your face or behind you) is most flattering. But if you don’t have the window for that, try positioning a few lamps around you until the shadows are gone.
Avoid facial distortion by getting far from the camera
Due to the lenses on smartphone cameras, photos that are too close up distort the look of your face. For instance, your nose may look larger than it is.
There’s only one true solution for this, and that is to take your pictures from farther away than your arm can reach.
Resist the urge to go phone-to-profile
Some people are under the impression that photo editing is too complicated or expensive for them. Be assured: it doesn’t have to be.
Before uploading an image taken by your phone, realize that just a few easy (and free) photo edits can make a huge difference in the quality of your shot.
Check out this article on essential profile photo edits for details.
3. For More Adventurous Shots, Buddy Up
If you want to inject more personality than the above selfie guidelines will allow, take your significant other or a close friend to a location you enjoy. It can be the beach, an art museum, your favorite city street, or your backyard garden, so as long as the location is appropriate for what you’ll be using it for.
To ease the pressure of being the single model, take turns shooting pictures of each other. Just remember: while you’ll want to take some goofy shots here and there, be sure to get lots of wide smiles with direct eye contact, as these will be your best bets as you sift through them later.
4. Hire a Photographer Like It’s No Big Deal
Okay, listen. For truly magnificent photos (the kind that gather Like after Like after Like on Facebook), you’ll need a professional. If you have the means, the investment can be a very practical one for attracting the right people and opportunities into your life.
Now let’s talk about how to do this.
Know your photographer’s digital files policy
Because your shoot is not for a family portrait, you likely won’t want any prints to hang on your walls. Keep this mind as you choose your photographer, as many of them sell prints as their main means of income and will be hurt when you don’t comply.
Click around photographers’ websites to see if you can find their pricing for “digital files.” If it’s not on their website, send an email asking what their pricing is for digital files (or a CD of the session) and whether the files will be released to you to use freely online.
Some photographers will sell you a CD of the session. Others will charge per hi-res photo that you choose in the end. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into in this regard.
Be clear about what you want
Tell your photographer that you’re just looking for some really sharp, [insert adjective here] profile photos. If you want casual, say so. If you want glamorous, say so. If you want goofy, say so. This will guide the photographer to choose the right shooting locations and capture you the way you really want to be seen.
Make yourself comfortable
You’ll do best if you have a photographer with an energy you like.
Additionally, people have been known to stop for a few drinks before a photo shoot or dance at home to loud music. If you tell your photographer you’re nervous, they can probably give you a few more good ideas.
We hope that you’ve found these tips helpful. Now go out there and create a whole batch of great new shots!
No matter what methods you choose, just remember to bring your photos back to Photofeeler to find out which ones put you in the perfect light.