Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Take a Good Profile Picture

Profile pictures, we all need them. It's important to get them right, because they're often people's first impressions of our online personas. Whether it's for your blogger account or other social media, there's some guidelines that I've found effective.

TIP #1: Use a picture of yourself
This might sound obvious, but way too often I see profile pictures that are of random objects. It gives off a more serious and personal vibe when you actually use a picture of yourself. That being said, sometimes you are going for a silly, fun vibe, and a picture of a chicken, instead of you, might be more appropriate. Your choice.

If you decide to use yourself in the profile pic, you don't have to completely reveal your identity (I know that some people want to keep that private), but you should show some part of yourself (hands, eyes, etc.). You can use props or camera angles to disguise yourself. I used my sister as a model for these examples of "disguised" images:
Blur yourself out. The farther you are from the in focus subject
the more blur there will be.

Put a prop in front of your face, if you don't want people to see it.

Turn away from the camera. It's pretty hard to recognize people by their backs.

TIP #2: Use a close crop
Since most profile pictures are quite small, it's important to have a close crop or else you won't be able to see the details in the photo. That means that full body shots are usually a no-go. You have to pick the most important part of the picture (usually the face) to fill the image. 

PRO TIP: If you're having a hard time figuring out the crop, adjust your thumbnail size to get a better idea of how the photo would look smaller. 
I adjusted my thumbnail size in the Windows Explorer folder.
TIP #3: Go Outside
This is just a general photography tip: good light equals good photos. Unless you have a studio lighting setup, the quickest way to get a good light source is to head outside. Going outside will also make pictures taken with your phone or other cheap camera look way better. It's not impossible to get good lighting inside, but it's so much easier to walk out the front door and take some pictures. Besides, we've all been on the computer too long anyways, tehe.

I actually used a DIY reflector to get this particular shot. If you'd like to read
more about that, you can click here to read my post on A Splash of Photography.
TIP #4 Use Props
Props can make a profile picture really fun. Maybe consider using some props that represent you or the content you write for your blog. Here's an example my using my sister:

Although, I love the content of this shot, it's important
to remember that often times profile pics are square.
That means some of this image might get cut off.
TIP #5: Get someone to help you.
I've tried taking selfies with a tripod before, and although it works, it's a lot of time and effort to get the shot right (my head just always seems to be off frame). It's so much easier to ask/coerce/bribe someone to help you. If you're a control freak like me, you can explain what you want, do a sketch of how you want the subject in the frame and fix the settings before handing over the camera. Or you just give the camera to your assistant (like my sister did) and let them come up with the ideas. 

There you go, those are my five tips on taking a profile picture. Now that I'm rereading all my advice, I realize that my own profile picture needs to be redone! Of course, all of these tips are my own opinion and not the hard and fast rules. Anyways, let me know in the comments if you have any advice on profile pictures or have seen any extra special ones lately. 

Reading: Outcast by Jolina Petersheim
Listening to: Nothing in particular
Watching: The Great Gatsby (2013)
Previously on A Splash of Photography: Birthday Walk in the Woods


  1. Great post! If I can figure out how to tweet this from my Kindle Fire, I will. LOL

    1. Thanks! I wish I could help you, but I'm equally lost in how to tweet from a Kindle Fire. Looks like it's time to consult with our good friend Google.

  2. Haha already failing at Tip #1 :S I like the idea of disguised images, may have to give it a try :)

    1. Haha. Even though your picture doesn't follow the tips, I still really like it.

      Good luck and be sure to comment if you end up changing the picture so I can see your new one:D


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