Your profile pictures are one of the first things users will notice when they visit one of your profiles. If they don’t know you in real life, your profile pictures will shape the image they have of you. If you visit social networks to connect with people you know in real life, your cool profile picture will help users recognize you.

Should you upload a selfie? Should you share a professional headshot? Here is what you need to know about taking a cool profile pictures.

Is it Important to Have a Cool Profile Photo?

Your profile pictures matter for several reasons:

  • A good picture for your profile should be attention-grabbing.
  • A good picture will stand out when users conduct a search or see your profiles in their suggested connections.
  • Profile pictures that make you recognizable means that users will be more likely to reach out and connect with you.
  • First impressions matter. Profile pictures are to social media what an outfit and handshake are to a job interview.
  • Profile pictures that are flattering will boost your confidence, make you more outgoing, and result in more positive online interactions.
  • A great profile picture will help you accomplish your goals on social networks, whether you want to network, connect with clients, meet new people, or become an influencer.
  • Selecting a photo where you look sharp shows that you care about your online presence.

Tips for How to Take Great Profile Pictures

If you have an outdated pic or don’t think you look your best on your current profile picture, it’s time to take a new one. You can take a cool photo at home by following a few tips.

Gear You May Need

You can take a cool picture for social media with a few simple things:

  • A spot with good lighting
  • A neutral background
  • A smartphone or digital camera with a tripod
  • A friend who can take your portrait if you don’t want to share a selfie
  • A good hair day

Tips to Nail Your Social Media Profile Picture

young girl hanging out of a car

These tips will help you get good results with your new social platform pic. Don’t hesitate to experiment and test different ideas!

1. Try to Frame Yourself to Make Things Interesting

The composition of your profile picture is important. You can add a frame in your composition to draw attention to your face.

Something simple, like wearing your hair down can create a natural frame for your face, but you can also compose your background to create a frame.

2. Try Something New and Fun

Don’t expect the first pic you take to be the right one! We recommend planning a photo shoot so you can have fun, relax, and try different things.

Try different expressions and poses, play with the settings of your phone or camera, and think about lighting and composition for your picture.

3. Use Bright Colors

Contrasting colors can help your pic stand out. You can oppose complementary colors, or create a contrast between a dark and light area in your image.

The easiest way of introducing a contrast in your pic is to pick an outfit that contrasts with the background.

4. You’ll Want to Show Your Face

A psychology study looked at how people form a first impression based on portraits. The study looked at the factors that influence how likely subjects would perceive a person as approachable, helpful, or attractive.

The study found that people would be drawn to faces immediately. Factors like the size and posture of the head and the different facial features would shape the first impression participants developed.

Things that hide facial features, like hats, sunglasses, or shadows, had a negative impact on how participants perceived the subjects.

Social media profile pictures should show your face clearly. Showing your face will help users recognize you and make you seem more approachable when they open your page.

5. Simplify Your Backdrop

Your face should be the main point of focus of your portrait pic. A background that is too busy or too colorful can become distracting. It’s best to pick a background with a single color or a soft color gradient. If you want to use a textured or colorful background, we recommend adjusting your depth of field to keep your background slightly out of focus.

A wall with a neutral color or a professional photography background is an excellent choice. You can hang a bed sheet if you don’t have a backdrop. You can create an interesting effect on the texture of your background.

headshot of woman in pink blazer

6. Use Another Pro Photographer

Having a professional photographer take your profile picture is something you should consider if you use social media for work. You can find some affordable headshot packages, and you will get an amazing profile picture that makes a positive impression on people.

We think hiring a professional photographer is worth it if you use LinkedIn to connect with potential clients, if you’re networking to find a new job, or want to become an influencer!

7. Open Your Aperture

Aperture is a setting that determines the opening of your lens. A larger aperture will let more light, while a narrow aperture will leave some areas of your shot in shadows.

We recommend using an aperture of f/2.8 or lower for your profile picture. Combined with a neutral background, you will obtain a soft and blurred effect while lighting will be optimal for your face.

Using a larger aperture ensures that lighting helps you stand out against the background, and limits shadows that would create a stark contrast between your face and the background.

8. Find The Light

Good lighting will ensure that your face is easy to see in your profile picture. You need a well-lit location to limit shadows that could hide your features or create an ominous effect in the background.

A room with a large window is a perfect choice. You can also capture some great profile pics outside or set up professional photography lighting equipment if you have access to it.

9. Try to Avoid Harsh Light

A harsh source of light like an LED Lamp can create a stark contrast between lights and shadows. The same thing can happen if you have a source of light directed toward your face. Direct light can emphasize flaws, result in details that are less noticeable, and cause your face to seem too light in comparison with your background.

It’s best to work with indirect light. Light bounces off surfaces and becomes softer. A plain white wall will reflect light and provide enough lighting for your profile picture. If you want to use natural light coming from a window, add a sheer curtain or bed sheet to diffuse the light.

We recommend looking for an even source of light that is soft and diffused. It should cover your entire face to avoid creating noticeable shadows.

If you’re shooting outdoors, lift your head slightly to face the sky. This pose is an easy way of minimizing shadows that could hide your features, and it helps you adopt a posture that looks dynamic and appealing.

10. Autofocus for the Win

Autofocus is a feature that adjusts the focal distance of your lens automatically. The purpose of autofocus is to keep your subject in focus and capture an image that looks sharp.

It’s important to capture a portrait pic that looks sharp. Details will help users recognize you and will render your expression accurately.

An out-of-focus profile pic can make you difficult to recognize, especially if users see a small version of your pic in social media search results. It can also create an unprofessional impression.

Autofocus is your best option because it’s not easy to work with manual focus when taking a selfie, and it will also ensure that your portrait pic looks good if you have an inexperienced friend take it with a camera.

11. Think About Branding

If you’re capturing a picture you will share on a professional social media network like LinkedIn, we recommend incorporating your brand or profession in your photo.

It’s a fun way of making a statement about your dedication to your job, and it creates a positive impression. Avoid accessories that would hide your face, but you can incorporate a brand by wearing a shirt with a logo.

You can also use the background of your photo. Pose next to a logo or sign, or add some elements with the colors of the brand you work for.

Don’t limit branding to company logos. You can add your personal branding to your pic by holding an object that represents your profession.

woman sitting outside in orange dress

12. Switch it Up

Using a vertical format will allow you to shoot from closer and capture more details. You can compose a shot that draws attention to your face and shoulders and won’t have to crop the image.

A horizontal picture is going to capture too much of the background and draw attention away from your face.

The vertical format is common in portrait photography because it matches the shape of the subject, and guides the eyes toward the subject.

Keep in mind that a lot of users will see a small version of your profile picture when they search your name or browse through different profiles. A vertical photo will make your face more visible when users see a smaller version of your pic.

13. Be Consistent

Have you ever noticed that brands post the same logo and color schemes across their sites and profiles? It’s a strategy that helps customers identify brands immediately.

We recommend using the same headshot on all your profiles if you use these networks for professional purposes. Using the same picture will help people recognize you right away and will make them more likely to interact with you if you have already connected with them on another network.

The right profile pic will create a positive first impression on social media, and you can leverage that positive impression on the different social media platforms you use.

Using the same photo also creates a consistent image and makes your online persona more tangible.

14. Don’t Forget to Smile

Users will perceive you as friendly if you smile in your pic. Looking stern, stressed, or closed in a photo will not encourage users to interact with you.

Smiling is something we do in social settings. It indicates that someone isn’t a threat, and it expresses friendliness and openness. We’re naturally drawn to people who smile, and tend to be wary of those who don’t.

Some cameras have a face or smile detection feature, like the Smile Shutter you can find on some Sony cameras. If your camera has this feature, take advantage of it! It will capture a photo at the instant you smile, and you will get good profile pictures with a smile that looks genuine.

Cool Posing Tips for Your Profile Photo

How should you pose for your profile pic? Looking natural, friendly, and approachable is important.

1. Relax and Take Some Selfies

Taking some selfies is a fun way of exploring different ideas and trying different poses. You can get a feel for what feels natural and what looks odd. Don’t hesitate to take some fun selfies to relax and have fun before you get started!

You can experiment with how to position your arms and hands, and with how you want to angle your face in relation to your camera and source of light.

Take as many selfies as you can, and go through them to figure out which poses and angles look flattering!

Standing is your best option. There is some flexibility in how you angle your shoulders and body in relation to the camera, and you can adopt a normal posture without looking too stiff.

2. Keep it Classy for Professional Profiles

If you use social media sites like LinkedIn for professional networking, it’s crucial to post a pic that makes you look tidy. Think of your picture as something you could use on your resume.

The right outfit depends on what your profession is, and on the image you want to convey. A T-shirt is acceptable if you work at a start-up with a relaxed atmosphere and mostly interact with professionals who work for companies that have a similar culture, but you will want to wear a tidy suit in most cases.

Think about getting a haircut if you need one. For women, a simple makeup look can help create a profile picture that looks tidy and professional. Think about something you could wear to a job interview.

It’s best to pick a simple headshot if you need a professional profile pic. You might be tempted to post profile pictures that reflect your personality or hobbies, but a headshot with a neutral background will come across as more professional. You can still showcase your personality in your smile, expression, pose, and outfit choice.

3. Watch Your Arms

Pressing your arms against your sides will flatten them, and they will look larger. This pose can cause your proportions to seem odd and draw attention to your arms.

Your body language can come across as closed, unapproachable, and not friendly if you keep your arms close to your body or cross them in front of you.

Your social media profile pic will create a positive impression if your body language is more inviting. Keep your arms away from your body to avoid conveying the impression that you’re stiff, uncomfortable, or defensive.

You can hold an object, place your hand against a wall, or pose your hands to frame your face if you’re not taking a professional headshot.

4. Stand vs. Sit

The problem with sitting is that it can cause your posture to seem unnatural or unprofessional. Your profile pic will probably only show your head and shoulder, and viewers won’t see that you’re sitting. They will only notice the posture that looks too stiff or too relaxed.

If you sit up straight, your shoulders will look stiff once you crop the picture. If you sit in a more relaxed manner, your profile pic will not seem professional.

5. Show Your Beautiful Face

A common mistake people make when picking a new pic is that they choose portraits where their face isn’t clearly visible.

Accessories, hair, or shadows can result in users having a hard time seeing your face. You might like the aesthetic effect of the image, but keep in mind that social media users need to recognize you right away when they visit your profile.

Hiding your face can cause people to perceive you as closed and unapproachable, and some users might get the impression that you aren’t friendly or willing to interact with users if they can’t see your face in your photo

young girl with denim shirt against blue building

Profile Picture Myths

If you look for tips on how to take a great social media profile picture, you will come across a lot of advice that seems outdated. Social media has evolved a lot over the years, and users’ expectations and habits have changed over the years!

It’s perfectly acceptable to share a cool photo where you wear a casual outfit or an image that shows you doing something you love, even if it’s not work-related.

You might find blog posts that advise against sharing your profile pic with other people. Posing with friends, family members, or your pet is fine if you don’t share the picture on a site like LinkedIn.

You should smile in your profile pictures. Some believe that a professional headshot should feature a neutral expression, but the truth is that social platforms are about connecting with people, and smiling will give the impression that you’re friendly and approachable.

What Do Your Profile Pictures Say About You?

A cool photo can say a lot about the user behind it. Users will base their first impression of you on this picture, and some users might even ask themselves why you picked that picture.

A picture where your features are hard to see can give the impression that you have something to hide or don’t feel comfortable with online interactions. Looking happy and relaxed in your profile pictures will give users the impression that you’re social, friendly, and approachable.

Pay attention to your expression in your profile pic, what your pose evokes, and ask friends to help you pick a profile picture if you have doubts!