Your ActiveRain Profile Photo

Education & Training with Tech Training for You!

One the interesting facets of marketing ourselves on the internet is that someone can meet us online first before they ever see us in person. Having a blog is a way for us to share our expertise and help a person come to know and trust us. Letting them see who we are helps fill a hole in the whole virtual meeting process. Our profile photo then is a key element to introducing ourselves properly.

First let’s look at some common mistakes to avoid. Then we’ll go into the process of how to prepare your photo and upload it to ActiveRain.

Craig’s List of Things I Think You Should Avoid in a Profile Photo

It is not a close up of you.
You are in some really cool place and you want to share the place, however that means that YOU are just a tiny spec. Don’t forget these images get scaled down to thumbnail size of 122 pixels. Here in the 122 pixel thumbnail my face is only 16 pixels high! Compare that to having a conversation with someone standing on the other side of a large room!


Your “profile photo” is your company logo.
I’m sorry you think this is a good idea, but I don’t. I want to see YOU. Seeing you makes your presentation more personable. It rounds out my knowledge of you. You wrote this excellent post of and I really enjoyed it but are you the invisible man/invisible woman? I feel there is a big piece missing of my getting to know you. Go ahead and brand with your logo – just do it in other places like blog footer, sidebar, cover photo and profile page.


It is a cropped group photo of you with someone’s arm around you.
Yeah I get it… you really love the smile in that one particular photo. But the hand around your shoulder and the cropped off person just makes this a no go.

Sept 2006

The photo is too dark.
Frequently I see the problem where a photo is backlit or just not lit enough! In some cases these photos may be salvageable. We have easy to use photo editing apps these days. Can you go into editing mode and slide some of those tuning bars over to the right a little? Read on, I’ll talk a little bit more about that.

craig-backlight  craig-dark

This is not what you look like any more.
Ok — so aging isn’t fun, I understand. But honestly, if you are meeting your new client in a coffee shop for the first time after them only having talked to  you on the phone and only them having seen your 20 year ago profile photo, are they going to recognize you? The photo below on the right is the 20 year ago, 26 year old me photo and is absolutely the body I’d dial back to if I could. I was running several times a week and in really great shape. I’d love to keep that my profile photo forever but it’s not the me “now”. And besides can you imagine your “tech guy” using that outdated technology in the background :)


You don’t need a phone to your ear.
We know you talk on the phone as part of doing business. Does this mean that you are ALWAYS on the phone and that basically you’ll be taking calls the whole time that you are meeting with me?


You are trying to put a Rectangular Peg in a Square Hole.
Our profile photos need to be cropped as an EXACT SQUARE (for those of you who were absent a lot in geometry – this is the shape where the height and width are equal :) In the past, if you uploaded your rectangular photo to AR, it would scrunch the photo disproportionately to fit in a square, and quite often this has the effect of making you look fatter! Meanwhile with the new upload tool, it will auto-crop a square for you which if you haven’t pre-cropped to a square, it quite likely will chop off the top part of your head for you! I’ll talk about cropping a little later in this post.


So What Are You Going to do About It?

Perhaps it is time for a new photo! Professional photography is great if within your budget. However with a little effort, a little knowledge, and best with an assistant,  your new DIY profile photo is just around the corner. Set aside a little block of time for a mini photo shoot. Try some different locations. Try indoor vs. outdoor. “Digital film” is cheap folks. Take lots of shots and pick one that you like.

Lani Rosales, AGBeat, posted also on this topic and has a great list of “dont’s” also in her “Professionals’ Guide to Looking Great in Photos”. What I also really like in that article is a short howcast video that gives very practical things to consider to help take  better portrait photos.

Dang. I guess that means I have to work on updating my photo too. The one I have been using (below, on the left) is about 10 years old now. The shot on the right is one I recently took on my phone in selfie mode. I’m not going to use it for my profile shot because I’m not happy with the quality of the lighting or the resolution. However, consider it a preview. I’ll be working on my update, how about you?

craig computer 300  craig new profile option 1b

Now You Have Your Photo Picked Out -
Getting it Posted on ActiveRain

At the top left of the ActiveRain window, just under the cloud logo, is your photo and your name. If you click on your name, you get a drop down menu. Look for the choice “Edit Profile” and then you will be ready to make the update to your photo. Click the button with the camera on it that is in the profile photo space. Click on the “Choose File” button and navigate to the folder where your file is and choose it. When you have done that, Click Save to make your photo active.


Tips For Prepping Your Photo: Post Production Tuning

Sometimes a otherwise very good shot is just lacking a tiny bit to make it so much better. One typical problem with photographs happens when you have a bright back light like in the sample below. The camera auto exposure sets for the background leaving the foreground (your subject) darkly lit. Many times this is a salvagable photo and it is worth looking into a post-production edit. I really like and highly recommend the Picasa Photo App. It is by Google and is a free app. There is a tiny learning curve involved and if you are interested in the app, check out my Picasa Series of Posts to help you through the learning process. In about 60 seconds, I did the edit below and had a much more usable photo as a result. (thank you Janelle for letting me help you make the update and share this example of a lighting update with others)


If you only do occasional photo editing, you also have the option of using one of the web based photo editing tools. In this arena, is my favorite choice. You will upload your photo to the web, make your edits, and then download the edited version.

Once you have your photo uploaded to iPiccy, you may want to check out the additional tools that can help enhance your photo. There are tool palettes to sharpen, add vibrance or dab of saturation. Darker photos are aided by the Exposure panel. Mix a combination of Exposure and Highlights so your photo can look its best.


Tips For Prepping Your Photo: Cropping and Sizing

We need to get a square image ready for the upload. Again, I recommend iPiccy as a very easy way to get this accomplished. After you upload your photo to iPiccy, look for the Crop Picture editing panel. Once you are there, notice the drop down list for choosing various constraining shapes. Choose “Square.” Once you do that, you can adjust the cropping square by dragging on the various corners to get it the size you want. Click in the middle of the square and drag and drop the square more precisely where you want it. Click “Apply” and the extra stuff around the perimeter will be chopped off.


After you have cropped your photo to a square, the final edit to consider is making sure you are in the target size for uploading. ActiveRain suggests that you are somewhere between 170 and 600 pixels. This is easy to check and update in iPiccy. Go to the “Resize Image” panel and check the dimensions of your photo. If it is larger than 600, simply type 600 as the target (along with the “constrain proportions” setting) to create a more web optimized image for uploading. Apply the update.

Finally, notice the save icon on the top toolbar. This is where you go to download your edited image.


Having a professional presentation on the web is very important. Thanks for hanging out with me today as we went through some do’s and don’ts of creating a great profile photo. It was a bit of a longer lesson but I see you made it to the end! Now it is time to check out your profile photo and consider if it is time to renew and refresh! Or if you are just starting to blog on ActiveRain, you now have a reference sheet of what you need to do ASAP! No more blue anonymous placeholder icons! :)

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I appreciate every new subscriber
to both my ActiveRain blog AND
my YouTube Channel!

Craig Daniels
This blog is all about technology and helping you to use it smarter! Your digital footprint is your chance to attract new clients. What kind of impression are you making via your website, blog, and social media? We’ll be talking about that! Are you as productive as you can be? What apps might help you out? Do you know how to use all the best tools inside the apps? I enjoy photography and videography, you can expect to see those topics also on this blog.
Are you ready to learn?
Welcome to Craig’s Classroom!

PS - get ready for some homework… :) 

Comments (76)

Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

Photos are so important for people to feel like they KNOW you! That is why I have my photo on my signs as well. I have had people call me simply because they said I looked friendly. Now, probably time to get a new one!

Aug 08, 2014 05:25 AM
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert

Craig, Lots of phot information here and thanks. i will have to save it to Evernote as I will not remember all of this stuff or a even a little. 

Aug 08, 2014 05:58 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

What a fantastic tutorial.  Pictures do say a lot about us so putting us in the right "light" is important.

Aug 08, 2014 06:45 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I guess I could always go back to curls Craig.  I hate hate hate being on THAT side of the camera.

Aug 08, 2014 02:18 PM
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Awesome post Craig! There are many who can benefit from reading this tutorial of how to best create a profile photo!

Aug 08, 2014 03:35 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
I agree overall the foreground should never be overshadowed no matter how cool the background items are I agree with too.
Aug 08, 2014 03:36 PM
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

A great tutorial, Craig! Often overlooked by many.

Aug 08, 2014 04:22 PM
Jeremy Joslin
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Professional Real Estate Marketing and Sales

Thanks again Craig.  Great Post!

Aug 08, 2014 09:17 PM
Marco Giancola
Beachfront Realty - Miami Beach, FL
Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida

Hey Craig lots of good info on this. I see that most people commenting took your advise (or it seems) before posting

Aug 08, 2014 09:33 PM
Sarah Lynn Jaskowski
Williamsville, NY
House. Home. Today.

I just had a case where a new client didn't recognize me because all she's seen is my online photo (same one is every where I might add).  Got a new hair cut I don't like last week.  We will NOT be updating our photo for that!

Aug 08, 2014 11:39 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Wow! Great information...I should adjust mine for sure..I will bookmark!

Aug 09, 2014 12:19 AM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Yeah, it's time - but how will you recognize me if I change it?  Great post, but here's what I REALLY want to know - HOW DO YOU DO THE RED ARROWS??? 

Aug 09, 2014 03:02 AM
Craig Daniels
Tech Training for You! - Staten Island, NY
Technology Instructor/Project Consultant

Mimi Foster - the red arrows are part of my CorelDraw app (similar to Adobe Illustrator). If you want to do something like that with a FREE alternative, I recommend two choices: (1) Skitch - great for screen captures and then drawing arrows and text on top and (2) Google Drive - Drawing Document type - they have great bezier curves now which is what I use in my diagrams. Sounds like I have a couple of suggestions for upcoming blog posts, eh?

Aug 09, 2014 03:33 AM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thanks, Craig! I see several posts in your comment. I'll check them out. Love learning those kinds of tools.

Aug 09, 2014 03:47 AM
Bradley Potter, PLLC
Homesmart Realty - Phoenix, AZ
National Association of Expert Advisors

Tons of information on this, thank you!

Aug 09, 2014 05:37 AM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Not a fan of my photo, and so, I'll have to work on editing this week.  Thank you Craig.

Aug 10, 2014 02:20 PM
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

3 year old picture probably should go. Maybe the new year will bring a new profile picture.

Aug 13, 2014 09:03 AM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Hi Craig~ Great tutorial, but a little lenghty. Sorry, but I skimmed over some! I completely agree about using a logo vs. a photo. I've been told I need to update my photo and I probably do. Just not sure when it will happen and in the meantime, it'll do!

Aug 24, 2014 02:00 AM
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Broker/Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Craig, I thought maybe you could help with this. I'm trying to upload a new profile photo after following your instructions, but it's not working.  I've emailed Kristi about this earlier this morning with no resolution yet. Any hints what I might be doing wrong?

Sep 09, 2014 05:30 AM
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Craig - love your examples, they all make a poignant visual point. If I'm trying to promote my company, is it okay to use a logo, as I am doing now as of a few days ago? Also, I hate most of the current photo's of me!

Sep 01, 2015 10:06 AM