As the saying goes: “new year, new you.” When we embrace the “out with the old and in with the new” mentality that January 1st brings, the first place we often look to update is our social media profiles. One of the most important elements of your profile is your photo, of course, as it should represent exactly who you are in a single image.
Here’s the tricky part though: different social media channels need to showcase different aspects of your personality, so a one-photo-fits-all approach just isn’t an option. From Facebook, to dating apps, to LinkedIn (and everywhere in between), it can be hard to get your profile picture 'just right.'
In this guide, we answer the question: “what’s a good profile picture?”. We delve into the psychology behind profile pictures, as well as tell you all there is to know about how to take a good profile picture!
How to Take a Good Profile Picture
As you can imagine, there are some important do’s and don’ts when it comes to capturing the perfect profile photo. We’ve included these below:
- Make sure the photo will be suitable for the platform you’re using it on. While social sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram may suit a more casual or fun image (where your pets are more than welcome to photobomb), business-related sites such as LinkedIn will call for a portrait that makes you look professional – including business attire, an uncomplicated background, and an approachable smile.
- Use a photo that focuses on you, not your background (no matter how scenic it might be). While it’s perfectly acceptable to use a photo from your travels as a profile picture on social sites, just ensure you crop it enough so you’re easily recognizable.
- Select a recent image as your profile photo. After all, the aim of this picture is to showcase your current self – not a 10-year-old version of you!
- Capture your profile photo initially in color, rather than black and white. Even if you’re certain you want to convert a photo to black and white, you can easily do so during the editing process.
- Simply crop people out of a group photo (like your friends or family) so that it only features you. Trust us, there’s sure to still be someone else’s arm or hand visible in the image, and it’s just not a good look.
- Take a selfie. Instead, have a friend with an eye for photography capture some great portrait shots of you. Want to know how to take profile pictures by yourself? Simply set up the self-timer on your mobile or camera so you can perfectly capture yourself in the frame without the selfie aesthetic.
- Select a poorly lit or blurry photo. If you’re capturing a new portrait specifically for your profile picture, make sure your setting contains plenty of natural light.
- Zoom in too much when capturing the image. Allow plenty of room to surround yourself so you can then crop photos appropriately for the specific platform you’re uploading them to.
- Include hats, sunglasses, pets, or beverages in a photograph that will be used on a business-related platform such as LinkedIn (no matter how great that mojito looks).
The Psychology Behind Profile Pictures
Like all visual things, your profile photos are also subject to psychological cues that can add or detract from their success. Researchers have been studying this very topic for well over a decade now. Here’s how their studies can help you create the best social media profile picture.
LinkedIn and Professional Sites
When it comes to your profile photo for LinkedIn and other professional sites, these are perhaps the most important to get right. This is because potential employers will be viewing it, and according to research, it only takes just one-tenth of a second for them to draw conclusions about you based on this picture.
The majority of that first impression is based on just two qualities: trustworthiness and competence. Thankfully, there are some simple tricks you can embrace to make sure your profile photo is a hit, rather than a miss.
The first thing is to ensure your smile shows off your pearly whites, as this is seen as a ‘genuine’ smile, making you appear twice more likable than those who have a closed-lip smile in their portrait. Smile too wide, however, and you may appear as though you’re less competent or reliable for the job (and perhaps, just a little bit kooky).
Additionally, you’ll want to include what’s known as 'the squinch' in your portrait, and this simply refers to a slight squint or narrowed stare. This increases positive perceptions about your competence, likeability, and influence, and is based on the fact that wide-open eyes usually signify fear, whereas slightly squinted eyes depict comfort and confidence.
Other impression-boosting factors include wearing formal attire, making eye contact with the camera, and sticking with a bust (head and shoulders) or torso (head to waist) shot.
Social Media Sites
Social media profile photos are a bit more fun, as they give you the opportunity to showcase your awesome personality! As you know, there are plenty of social media sites to take into consideration, with each of these having different profile image size and format requirements.
It’s important to be aware of the specific sizes and aspect ratios that each platform requires for its profile photo, as you want your image to appear crisp and clear, rather than blurry or awkwardly stretched. We’ve provided a handy cheat sheet below:
Thankfully, BeFunky’s Crop tool comes with preset aspect ratios to get your profile photo crop job just right. You can select popular aspect ratios such as 1x1 (square) and adjust the pixel size accordingly. This makes it perfect for all of the platforms listed above.
When it comes to your profile pic on dating platforms and apps, you’ll certainly want to put your best foot forward. After all, these platforms come with a whole new set of rules, perhaps including ones you weren’t even aware of!
A 2017 study by dating app Hinge found that men who smile without showing their teeth in their dating app profile photo were 43% more likely to receive a like, while those who faced front-on to the camera boosted their potential like-factor by a massive 102%.
Women, on the other hand, were said to receive way more likes if their dating app profile pic featured them wearing their hair up (a 27% boost) and smiling and showing teeth (a 76% increase). The same study also showed that women who looked away from the camera in their portrait were 74% more likely to receive a like. Strange, huh?
Both men and women also saw an increase in engagement if their photo showcased them standing alone. Another intriguing finding from the study was the fact that black and white photos were most desirable, giving their subject a 102% greater chance of engagement.
When it came to the biggest dating app photo turn-offs, however, the results perhaps weren’t so surprising. Photos with a Snapchat filter, bathroom mirror selfies, and beach photos all dramatically decreased their subject’s chance of a 'like' – as much as 90%.
How to Make Your Own Profile Picture Shine Using BeFunky’s Touch Up Tools
Now that you know what types of photographs to capture for each profile, it’s time to master the subtle art of touching them up in the photo editing process!
There’s a huge library of Touch Up tools to choose from, but here are three that are sure to enhance your portrait photo without going overboard:
Are your teeth looking not so pearly white in photos? This is where the Teeth Whiten tool comes in handy, as you can lighten and brighten your smile within just seconds.
You can access it in the Touch Up tab, in the Mouth section. Alternatively, type “Teeth Whiten” into our handy Feature Search. You then simply adjust the Brush Size and Hardness sliders before applying the tool to the areas of your smile that you want to whiten.
Making your eyes appear less tired and more alluring can be as simple as applying the Eye Brighten tool. You’ll find the Eye Brighten tool in the Touch Up tab, underneath the Eyes category.
It adds that much-needed touch of sparkle to your pupils, whilst making the whites of your eyes brighter.
Perfect Skin Tool
We all have bad skin days, but that doesn’t mean they have to ruin an otherwise perfect portrait. Zap away and smooth out imperfections such as pimples, scars, or wrinkles using the Perfect Skin tool, also located in the Touch Up tab. It’ll quickly analyze your photo and sense the true color of your skin to ensure the applicator only smoothes the blemishes and imperfections while keeping enhancements realistic.
To apply the Perfect Skin Tool, you use your mouse to paint the effect over any blemished skin in your portrait.
The key to touching up your portraits is for the enhancements to be subtle enough that they appear natural, rather than over the top. Refrain from going overboard with these Touch Up tools, as profile photos that look heavily edited (and therefore, fake) are never a good look.
The Perfect Profile Picture Starts Here
Thanks to the handy info above and BeFunky’s ultra-useful Photo Editor, creating your perfect profile pic has never been easier. Whether you’re looking to switch up your LinkedIn photo, create a fun profile picture for Facebook and Instagram, or make a lasting impression with your dating app photo, you now have everything you need to do just that! Ready to create your best profile pictures yet? Head to the Photo Editor to get started!