Whether you consider yourself an online pro or a total newbie, at some point, you will want to engage in social media and that is going to mean a profile pic. Maybe you're newly single or you need a picture for LinkedIn job searches. How you pose, your expression, the lighting, and so many things go into an ideal representation. Here's some tips for any kind of profile pic or personal selfie you want to take -
Ideally, if you are indoors, stand in a room that is on the opposite side of the building from where the sun is, have the curtains open. Step back from the window while looking at the lighting on the screen and stop when it looks good and not too harsh. The light will be diffuse and straight on.
If you do overhead lighting, it will cast shadows on your face and make you look old. This guy looks tired, huh? If you're outdoors, I suggest photo on a cloudy day when the sun is setting so you get diffuse light straight on, but not so much you squint. Also, don't use indoor lamps with CFL bulbs or you will look orange.
This picture of me, above, was taken in front of a window that had only diffuse light coming through. Ideally, take the shot in the late afternoon near a window that is on the east side of the building or take a shot at a window on the west side of the building when the sun is rising.
Take shots from above, not below!!! Holding camera/cell phone low and taking it from below creates double chin, and fat neck syndrome. Take the shot from above and look up at the camera and your jaw line defines.
Men: Don't use sunglass photos. People want to see eyes. Please smile, grin, laugh. Just don't scowl. Too many men take scowling pics indoors and they look mean and also not fun to be around. Outdoors with a smile works. It makes you look dynamic and open to adventures.So what if you hate your teeth, smile without teeth showing. Just look friendly!
Women: Don't do duck lips. I have full lips and so I actually tuck them in some because I don't want to be berated for looking extra sexy. Spontaneous is nice. Think of something fun or imagine a friend saying something outrageous and click the photo. Don't get caught up in posing or taking shots straight on. Turn your face a bit to show some cheekbone and dimension.
Allow lots of practice with posing to figure out what angle is best, what expression shows your true self. If you're smiling, try to remember to also keep your eyes open and don't squint. It takes some practice but it helps. Most folks connected with eyes.
PURPOSE OF SELFIE
There are social media profile pic/selfies and then ones for professional sites like LinkedIn and networking in your profession.
I needed a profile pic that would work for my author professional so I wanted it to not be too serious but also be rather feminine and romantic while being tasteful.
I needed another profile pic for my work in the oil and gas industry and work I do facilitating investors and investment opportunities. I wanted to look approachable and intelligent but also keep my signature turquoise color in the photo as it has become a color associated with myself throughout all media.
When I was growing my paranormal and horror-related blog, Ghost Hunting Theories, I wanted a pic that showed my love of costumes and atmosphere so I did my Stevie Nicks knock-off look -
And, lastly as a single woman on Facebook, I wanted to project being approachable and fun. I work hard, but I have a ridiculous sense of humor and am rather childlike in my approach to life - so it came through on this shot.
WHAT WOMEN WANT TO SEE IN MEN'S PICS
Women like men who are friendly and not sour and serious, smiling and kind, outdoorsy. If you have a gray beard, consider nixing it as it makes you look like Santa and you look about 15 years younger without it. Beards make women think you're lazy and don't want to shave. We want to see your face, even if you think you have a fat chin, it's better than scratchy beards tearing at our skin and holding breadcrumbs. Seeing an entire face helps understand who the person is we're dealing with. You may be a grandpa, but it doesn't mean you can't be handsome too. Never wear baseball caps - looks creepy.
WHAT MEN WANT TO SEE IN WOMEN'S PICS
Men who approach me and ones who are single friends mention many of the same complaints. "She's using her college photo from the 1980s," "she's in the picture with her whole family posing," "she doesn't smile," "I can't see her eyes," "she's a head with no shoulders or body." They also tend to shy away from over-made-up women with bright red lips, super-lined eyes and pancake, high-maintenance look. The flat Barbie doll face makes men highly suspicious. You have freckles or crinkles around your eyes - allow them.
TO ENHANCE (PHOTOSHOP) OR NOT?
Cell phones allow for lots of modifications. Most people can tell when someone has enhanced and when they haven't. My cell phone takes photos that look very bluish. I have to often adjust the coloring to show true color. I might crop too if there is something in the shot I don't want there. Don't get into the celebrity dilemma of being so overdone that you can never meet someone in person or they'd be like "WTF happened to your face?"
Feel free to brighten a photo or crop something out of the background \or adjust coloring. Just be careful at the quagmire involved in removing wrinkles, stamping in more hair, or slenderizing proportions. At some point, you will have to live up to the face you presented when met in person. And if someone likes you as you are, then you don't have to make excuses not to meet in real life.
It's easy to get hung up on what you think you should look like. I have facial amnesia so I have a lucky flaw that benefits me. I cannot picture a face in my mind, not even my own or loved ones. It is this strange quirk that makes it possible for me to find people with "interesting" faces so much more beautiful because I can recall them. Any beautiful blond actress looks just like the others to me and so they are unattractive. Give me a person with a scar, one eye bigger than the other, a crooked smile - they are so endearing.
If you don't present yourself as perfect, you never have to stress to live up to it.