In the acting world, headshots are a must for actors and actresses, whether they are just starting out or have reached “celebrity” status.  Headshots are their calling cards.

Treat your LinkedIn profile picture as if you were in Los Angeles or New York chasing a big acting job and as if that picture were your calling card. It is often the first impression that you will make on potential clients, employers, and vendors.  Make sure that the impression you leave is a positive one.  Plus, you may not be actively looking for a new job, but you never know when a hiring manager or executive recruiter will be looking around on LinkedIn and come across your profile.

I recently updated my own profile picture, and in the process did my research asked some friends who are photographers and in the image business to give their suggestions for a great headshot.  Here are some tips for a winning profile picture:

  • Hire a professional, or ask a friend who takes good pictures to help out
  • Thou shalt not take a selfie.  Deb Liljegren, NYC-based photographer, tells me that your outstretched arms may not be visible, but you are not fooling anyone.  Selfie sticks do not help, either. There is a clear difference between a DIY picture and one taken by someone else
  • Susan Tran, a photographer in Boston who did my recent photo, suggests that people smile big but not TOO big.  According to her, too big a smile can look forced.  Think of someone who makes you happy so that you capture your most natural smile
  • Boston photographer Stephanie Olsen says to BREATHE! Stephanie points out that everyone holds their breath when being photographed. This makes their shoulders rise up a bit and does not let their true smile come through. Stephanie guides people by telling them to exhale a smile. This also make them a laugh a bit and the smiles that follow are the most natural.
  • Wear professional attire suitable to your industry.  Dark colors work well so long as you do not have a dark background, in which case you would want lighter attire.  Contrast will make the picture “pop”.  Avoid prints, which can be too busy and could blend into the background
  • According to Brad Duncan, Boston’s top skincare guru, you should exfoliate your face a few days prior to the photo and drink tons of water in the days leading up to the photo being taken.  This will help skin look smoother and more even in the photo
  • If you wear makeup, go for a lighter hand for a soft effect.  Pretend you are going for that soft, fuzzy, super-forgiving Barbara Walters interview lighting
  • Speaking of lighting, Deb Liljegren also suggests shooting outside or near a window with filtered lighting

 

Remember, LinkedIn is a professional networking site and your photo should reflect that and portray your best you.