The way we all do business has changed massively over the past ten years.

Many of us do business with others without actually meeting in person. Technological advances and the rise of social media have enabled individuals and businesses to trade globally without moving away from our laptops. However, we still make assumptions about each other based on our appearance – just not in person.

First Impressions

Before doing business with others, and even before we meet someone on a professional basis for the first time in person, a huge number of us can research that person beforehand by viewing their social media profiles. By doing a little research on Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter we can find out a few nuggets of information that could help us make a good (or bad) first impression. However, as humans we have probably already made that first good or bad impression simply by viewing that other person’s profile photos.

A good first impression encourages the viewer to read the rest of your profile. Therefore it makes sense to assume that the opposite is also true. In fact, your profile is fourteen times more likely to be viewed simply by having a profile picture. It’s not hard to see why a good professional profile photo will be even more effective in getting others to read more about you.

Professional Portrait Photos

First of all, have an actual photo. No one will take you seriously if you have the default silhouette on Linkedin or the egg in Twitter. Hire a professional to take your shot if you are serious about creating the right impression. If your job requires you to be perceived as a professional, you have to be seen to act like one. People can tell if you snapped a selfie or cropped yourself out of a group shot. People can also tell if you have used a trendy filter or a funky angle to make your shot look more interesting.

Have a Photo That Looks Like You

I often use Linkedin profile photos to help me identify the person I am meeting for a consultation. I am amazed how often people look nothing like their photo in real life! It often makes me wonder why this is the case. Often the photo is so old that the person no longer looks the same – perhaps different (or less) hair, the addition of glasses or a few extra pounds!! If your photo is over three years old then you should definitely be planning a new one.

Fill The Frame

People need to identify you from your thumbnail photos, and they won’t be able to do that if you use a photo of you with your dog. Remember you probably have many namesakes so make it easy to be found if you want to be. You should crop the photo from just below the shoulders to no higher than just above your head.

Choose the Appropriate Expression for Your Target Audience

Think about your clients. Are you looking for a new job? Are you seeking credibility with potential customers? Do you want to be viewed as approachable? A soft natural smile works best in most cases, unless your job calls for something more specific such as a Criminal Lawyer or a Professional Jester.

Dress Appropriately for Your Industry

Hawaiian shirts are great for the politician from Maui. Suits and ties are great for many in the legal and financial industries. Most people dress down for work nowadays, so remember to look like yourself at work, but maybe yourself on a good day.


Neutral backgrounds such as black, white, or grey work best. Other solid colors can work too, which works well if you want to use your corporate branding colours. Make sure there is contrast to separate you from the background. Avoid busy backgrounds like words, complex geometric shapes, or lines running through your head. The only exception here is if you want to be shot in front of your company logo.


Good, professional photos do cost money. They are however a legitimate business expense. To reduce the cost, consider sharing a session with colleagues or peers, or drop in to one of our Pop-Up Portrait Sessions. Click here for current venues and dates.


David Michael
David Michael

David Michael Bradford is an Accredited Master Photographer specialising in Weddings for clients that value quality over price. His views are his own and are designed to promote discussion, so please don't be offended.

    1 Response to "How good are your Social Media Photos?"

    • The Son Of Thom

      I can highly recommend David’s social media profile photos!

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