You are smart enough to realize you only get one chance to make a first impression. You also know that if someone cannot recognize you online, you may not even get the first chance. Make sure people can pick you out of the social media line-up.
Hire a great photographer to get your headshot just right. Get the perfect expression, lighting, mood. Once you get your shot back. You want to put it up on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. If you are like me you will put it on all three. How do you crop it?
The first thing I always ask is “Who is your audience?” Why do you put a profile photo on the site in the first place? These photos aren’t called ID photos for nothing. Particularly if you are in business and use social media for that purpose, you want the person looking you up to recognize you. Don’t get too clever and put a photo that gives no indication of who you are.
For example, if you were looking for me and didn’t type in my middle initial of R, Facebook would give you more than 100 Scott Klines. You may not be able to pick me out from a photo of Guy Fawkes, canoes covered with snow, young children, a statue of Ghandi, a vintage Dodge Charger, a snarling wolf, or a Labrador Retriever. These are all ID photos for Scott Klines when I put the search into Facebook. Don’t have your customer give up finding you.
Your best bet is to crop the shot close. I always start our with the initial shot (above), which I shoot wide in order to leave lots of room for cropping. This is good to keep around in case you want to re-crop later. It is also handy if you need a vertically cropped shot for some reason.
Next, I do a tighter 3×2 horizontal crop. This is nice to have in spots that do not have a square crop. Like a blog byline. For the tighter crop I like to crop into the hair slightly, people don’t really need to see the top of your head. At the bottom I crop into the sternum. No one can identify you from your shirt. I also tend to put one eye on the cross of the lines that divide a photo into the rule of thirds (above). This nice offset crop moves the viewer’s eye around when viewing the photo. (The final 3×2 is at the top of this blog.)
The big three social media platforms require a square shot. I like to start fresh and re-crop. The ID shot looks really small on a smart phone of other small screen. You really want to fill up the square with your face. So my final shot shows little of the top of my head. The sternum crop on the bottom is still applicable. I also like a black and white shot as an option. That is completely rebalanced to pop in Black and white. I bring up the background for a little more grey.
With all these crops you have lots of options. Keep them all in your headshot library. Make sure you refresh your headshot frequently. Nothing looks more ridiculous than a 10 year old headshot with different hair color and out-of-style glasses.