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Getting a Professional Profile Picture: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

4 January 2010 6 Comments by Rachel Wilkerson

Professional Profile PictureWho doesn’t have a million profiles? Every time you do anything – from reviewing a restaurant to applying for a job – you’re invited to create a user profile and upload a picture. That little thumbnail is what represents you to the virtual world, so it better be good. Should you call in the professionals?

Estee Lauder seems to think so. The brand is now hosting events where their pros give you a complimentary makeup application, take your photo, and help you post it online. They call it “putting your best face in cyberspace.” Is this good image management? Or just plain vanity?

The Good. If you use the Internet for professional purposes, it might be a good idea to get a clear shot of yourself without the red-eye flash effect. You can post it on your LinkedIn profile, your own personal Web site, or the profiles you’ve created for any professional organizations of which you’re a member. In the same way you’d want to look your best at an interview, your profile on these sites sends a first impression. Might as well make it a blemish-free, rosy-glow one. And because profile pictures can often be very small, it’s good to have one of just your face, without distracting backgrounds or other people.

The Bad. Depending on how you use Twitter, a pro shot could be perfect, or it could be absurd. Twitter is really about branding yourself, so a better choice – for that teeny, tiny picture – is something that represents you as a brand. Your logo, something that represents you, or just a nice jpeg of your name might be a better choice. The thing is, sometimes professional pictures can come across looking, well, a little too soft-core porn. The subject looks great, but in a cheesy way. Something about the all-white background and perfect lip liner can be a little creepy when taken out of context. And with so many porn spammers on Twitter, it’s best not to get confused for one. And it’s probably best to keep this picture out of your online dating profile. It can make people think you’re a wannabe actress (ugh!) or just really self-involved.

The Ugly. Is there anything more annoying than that girl or guy who makes a pro shot their Facebook profile picture? It just looks desperate. Even if you’re using Facebook for networking, most of your “friends” are probably, well, your friends. They want to see the real you. Sure you probably look gorgeous with that pro makeup job, but tradition dictates that a Facebook profile picture should have other people cropped out of it. Posing for a picture by yourself simply for Facebook sends a strong message that you’re a loser. You should look like a good version of you, but not an unnatural version of you.

If you head to Estee Lauder for a pro makeup job and shot for LinkedIn, why not follow up with a dinner out with your friends? You’ll still have the fabulous makeup and you can get some candid shots that you can post on Facebook or Match. That’s putting your best face in cyberspace.

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6 Comments »

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  • Emily said:

    I take pictures of myself just for Facebook because I’m a photographer! I like the ones I take of myself and all my friends like them too :P I feel like a profile photo should be the best representation of yourself – not that flashy, red-eyed photo from the restaurant you went to last night. Save those for your tagged photos :)

  • Reader said:

    Deciding that there are “rules” about Facebook profile pics means that you spend, well, way too much time on Facebook. Of course you can have a cute pic where you’re by yourself. And helloooo, rather than worry about our profile pics, lets hang out with people in real life :)

  • Ilze said:

    I wouldn’t really agree about the last part of the post. You can have as professional and splendid make-up as you wish but if you or your friends at the restaurant only will have a mobile phone camera or a regular camera without knowledge what to do with it (as is quite usual among party/restaurant pictures), then nobody’s going to notice that perfect makeup on that grainy red-eyed shot.
    Oh yes, and the “rules” of facebook picture about having others cropped out. Eh? Never heard of those.

  • Kimberly Jeanpierre said:

    Reading this article gave me numerous issues to think about. You have some good quality info here that any reader would appreciate. I share many of your views in this article.