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.
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.
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?
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, iPiccy.com 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! :)