ActiveRain Essentials - 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 -
What You Should AVOID in a Profile Photo

These are just suggestions that I would give you as you ponder your next profile photo. They are based on my observations of what some people do and, in my OPINION, are not the best practices. 

AVOID Far Away Shots

You have a photo in some great location and you think it will make a great profile photo. You have to realize that these images get scaled down to thumbnail size of 122 pixels. Here in the 122 pixel thumbnail my face is only 16 pixels high! These days we have come to know social distancing, but in our virtual world, let's NOT be social distancing! Get close to the lens!



AVOID a Company Logo “Profile Photo” 

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 by using your logo – just do it in other places like blog footer, sidebar, cover photo and profile page.



AVOID the Arm Around You Cropped Out Person

Yeah I get it… you really love the smile that you have in that one particular photo. But when you crop out the person whose arm it is, it leaves a dangling hand! :) This just doesn't work well for your profile photo.

Sept 2006


AVOID the Poor Lighting Photos

Poor lighting just shouts out "amateur hour." (and the purpose of your blog is to show your professionalism!) Frequently I see the problem where a photo is backlit or just not lit enough! In some cases these photos may be salvageable in a photo editing app. You don't need an expensive app like photoshop to do editing. There are some great free web based editing apps that you can try and correct the lighting in your photo. But sometimes you have to also recognize that you might just have to take some more photos having now learned from previous experience of what to avoid for lighting!

craig-backlight  craig-dark


AVOID Using the Way Younger Version of Yourself

"Younger you" is not what you look like any more. Aging isn’t fun, I agree! But honestly, if you are meeting your new client in a coffee shop (or a zoom call) for the first time after them only having talked to you on the phone and only them having seen your 25 year ago profile photo, are they going to recognize you? The right hand photo below is the 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”. (haha, and besides can you imagine your “tech guy” using that outdated technology in the background :)


The one I used when I first started blogging (below, on the left) is too many years ago now! The one on the right now is the more experienced me that you'll meet when we do a zoom call :)

craig computer 300  


AVOID the Phone to Your Ear Photo

The phone to ear photo pose has been used often. We know you talk on the phone as part of doing business. Does this mean that you are ALWAYS on the phone and that you’ll be taking calls the whole time that you are meeting with me? That's not the personable impression you want to leave.



AVOID the Rectangular Peg in a Square Hole

Our profile photos need to be cropped as an EXACT SQUARE. If you crop before you upload, you will have control of what gets chopped off. If you let the system crop for you, it will take the center of your image. As you can see in the example below, this could mean the top of your head getting removed. 

Your Next Steps

Perhaps it is time your next profile photo! Professional photography is an excellent decision if within your budget. However with a little effort and a little knowledge, your new DIY profile photo can be just around the corner. If you have someone to assist you, this is a big help. Also, putting your phone on a tripod and setting the timer is another way to prep a great shot. 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.

If you are looking for some helpful DIY portrait tips, be sure and search the web. You'll find articles like this with good suggestions. Also, don't forget to give YouTube a search for tips on taking your own portrait. This is one example of a youtube video


Need Inspiration?

Here are some great examples of profile photos of others here in ActiveRain. This should give you some inspiration to take a look at your own photo and see if it is perhaps time for an update!


How To Upload Your Profile Photo to ActiveRain

At the top right of the ActiveRain window, you'll see your avatar photo. Click that and you'll get a pull down menu. The first choice there is "My Home." This is where you have control of all your various blog settings. Look for the Edit Link next to "My Profile" on the sidebar. Once you have enabled editing on your profile page, notice the pencil button next to your profile photo. Click that in order to upload a new photo. You will review the upload and approve it.

Tips For Prepping Your Photo: Post Production Tuning

Sometimes a otherwise 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. The camera auto exposure sets for the background leaving the foreground (your subject) darkly lit. Sometimes this is a salvageable photo and it is worth looking into a post-production edit. Google Photos has a great set of editing tools and I also like the free 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.

The snapshots below were taken from iPiccy. Notice some of the controls that you have in order to 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, if you need a suggestion, iPiccy is one 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.  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
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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 (40)

Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

WOW! Fantastic tutorial and thank you for including mine in your examples. I had that done several months before COVID and can't wait to get my pics updated when we are free to move about the country!

As for your photos, love the little boy one - so precious and that would be a fun photo for a conference (some Moo cards)!

And, a few of the folks I've met here look absolutely nothing like their pics and it blows my mind that they use 20, 30, even older shots! One in particular, I remember doing everything I could to avoid letting the shock on my face show when I met them! LOL

As always, thanks for the great tutorial. There's a lot of wonderful pointers in here!

Feb 06, 2021 02:44 PM
Craig Daniels

getting on a zoom call these days, do you ever do a double take at the participants hahaha, um no further comment :) 
PS thanks for liking the photos of the younger me!! I remember that rotary dial phone that I was talking on (ok, youngsters you can google that...) :)

Feb 07, 2021 05:58 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Craig:

This is a terrific tutorial and some really good advice. Love the photo you used to illustrate your key points.


Feb 06, 2021 04:01 PM
Craig Daniels

ha, thanks Jeff. Yes I didn't want to post member photos of bad examples, so I had to use myself as mockup what not to do examples :_) 

Feb 07, 2021 06:00 AM
Christine Wade
Christine Wade - Townsend, MT
Operations Strategist / Online Business Manager

Way to put yourself out there - I need a new one - chopped my head off!  LOL  I now have a new mission for the week - thanks, Craig ;-)

Feb 06, 2021 09:16 PM
Craig Daniels

that's great Christine - yeah not fun losing your head :)

Feb 07, 2021 06:01 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Congratulations, Craig, on your feature recognition.

This is excellent advice to share.

Feb 07, 2021 04:56 AM
Craig Daniels

thanks Roy - I hope that helps everybody give some thought to updates where needed and a quick how-to for the AR newbies

Feb 07, 2021 06:02 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Graig great advice.  One of the things I fail to understand is why do people use a picture that does not look anything like what they look now.  I have met some members that I would have never recognized them from their picture if they had not told me their name when we met.

Feb 07, 2021 10:35 AM
Craig Daniels

If you were only ever going to talk to somebody on the phone, you could get away with it. However when you need to meet either on zoom or in person, double take time.

Feb 08, 2021 11:34 AM
Gwen Fowler-864-710-4518 SC * Mountain* Lake*Home
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc - Walhalla, SC
Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc.

There are a lot of profiles that don't have pictures. I try to treat mine like Facebook and update it regularly 

Feb 08, 2021 09:21 AM
Craig Daniels

that's the best practice for sure, thanks Gwen!

Feb 08, 2021 11:34 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Great tips on profile pictures, Craig!

I like the examples you chose, great selection of some of my favorite Rainers.

Feb 08, 2021 04:09 PM
Craig Daniels

thanks Sharon - I think it helped to create a grid of some good shots for inspiration!

Feb 10, 2021 08:09 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Thanks for including me - but that's also an example of a 10-year old photo. I've been meaning to change it for, um, about 8 years . . .

And that's why your post is so timely. I am planning to have a new photo taken in a few weeks and I really like the outdoor, more casual shots. But there's 3 feet of snow on the ground I'll have to get creative - or get dressed warmly.

Feb 09, 2021 11:50 AM
Craig Daniels

I look forward to seeing your new photo! I like the outdoor shots as well. 

Feb 10, 2021 08:10 AM
Greg Mona
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Great reminders here, Craig. It's always nice to learn a few new tips!

Feb 10, 2021 07:59 PM
Craig Daniels

thanks Greg, appreciate you saying so!

Feb 11, 2021 09:41 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Good information - thanks for sharing.

I recall a real estate instructor MANY years ago telling us to uxe current photos in our promotional materials. He said: You don't want to be standing at the airport with your client's name on a sign - and have them walk up and ask "Couldn't your granddaughter make it?"

That said - I do need a new photo.

Feb 10, 2021 08:15 PM
Craig Daniels

that's not the intro you want :) 

Feb 11, 2021 09:42 AM
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 602.710.8161 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Craig, this was such an entertaining post to read, and good to remember, too. I bookmarked it. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Feb 10, 2021 08:34 PM
Craig Daniels

glad you came over to check out the post Steffy, thanks!

Feb 11, 2021 09:43 AM
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Thanks for the information. It is definitely nice to have a walk through of how to get a picture posted on AR!

Feb 11, 2021 06:39 AM
Craig Daniels

yes, I wanted to share the what and the how... thanks Anne :)

Feb 11, 2021 09:43 AM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

I am often shocked at things that I see in the background of profile photos..people upload them and do not edit them or view them...I like to enlarge tham and have fun!!!

Feb 12, 2021 02:29 AM
Craig Daniels

The casual pic often gets used because they really like how they look in the photo. However, for a professional pic, you have to watch out about the whole photo! thanks Paddy 

Feb 12, 2021 05:18 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I just came back to see everybody’s theories on how what to do here. It’s interesting. Everybody keep those smiles shining!

Feb 12, 2021 11:06 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I think I saw a cactus once just in the background hanging out in sunglasses Paddy Deighan JD PhD

Feb 12, 2021 11:08 PM
Chuck Tanner
Keller Williams Realty - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker "Let's Get You Moving"

I'm guilty. I am in the process of updating my photo now! Great article. I have met people who looked a whole lot different than their profile picture.

Feb 14, 2021 07:24 AM
Craig Daniels

I think that happens very often. Glad to give everyone a little nudge :) thanks Chuck

Feb 14, 2021 10:02 AM
Wayne Posey, Broker on Florida's Space Coast
Posey & Co., REALTORS - Rockledge, FL
"Nobody knows the Space Coast like a Native"

Shocking realtiy check Craig. It's time I update my photo showing a little less brown hair, ahem, and hair. and stop accusing others of using their  hi-school pictures on their business cards.

It's another comfy 75° here on Florida's Space Coast


"Home of the Patrick Space Force Base"

Kennedy Space Center

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Feb 15, 2021 03:48 PM
Craig Daniels

that's right Wayne, at some point we have to talking about 'their' profile photos and look at our own :)

Feb 16, 2021 06:20 AM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

You're amazing 😊 Thank you for continuing to share your expertise with us on things that are important to our online presence. Hoping my photographer daughter will get some more pics of her mom while we're in L.A. You're a gem! 

Feb 17, 2021 02:55 PM
Melissa Jackson
Century 21 Alliance Properties - Azle, TX
Helping You Make The Right Move

This is a great blog, I need to update my profile photo.

Feb 19, 2021 12:50 PM
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Thanks for the anti crop on the headshot instructs Craig. I will give it a shot. Jeff 😎

Apr 02, 2022 11:09 AM