Guidelines for profile shots

Surprisingly many people fail at putting a good picture on their site, despite the fact that their first impression on any visitor is the picture. Here are some rules:

#1. Don’t use flash. Flash washes out people’s faces and makes photos too bright in the near ground and too dark in the background. Use natural light or disable the flash inside.

#2 Make sure your face is visible in a thumbnail. Your face should cover at least 20-30% of the surface area of the photo. Oftenyou will need to crop photos (use a free editor like Picasa or iPhoto) to get faces big enough. When you are taking pictures, get closer to your subject than you think you should be.

#3 Make sure your face is visible. Shoot so that anyone can recognize your face right off. Be careful about putting too many people in your profile shot as well; you want to make sure people will know which is YOU, the proud owner of the site.

#4 Don’t be too gimmicky. Your picture says a lot about you to others. You may think that shooting a black&white photo from a poor angle with no smile and a million-mile stare makes you look edgy and cool, but odds are it will just show you as moody, depressed, and boring.

#5 Be wary of using action shots. In all likelihood, your soccer/baseball/basketball/beer pong photo looks cooler to you than anyone else, and you probably won’t be able to see your face for the glittering uniform. The exceptions to this rule are dunks, bicycle kicks, slides into home, and anything where you can see a packed house in the background.

With that list of things to avoid, here are some tips for great profile pics:

#1 Warm the temperature. Tint your picture toward yellow to make the faces look warmer, healthier, and more inviting.

#2 Smile. A winning smile communicates that you are friendly and welcoming, and open to comments.

#3 Crop, and crop some more. Trim the excess from your pictures to make them more dynamic.

Follow these tips, and you’ll soon be turning heads across the web. Of course, you can still get a good picture that violates the above guidelines. Here’s the picture I’m using right now:

Me & Tapia

If you’re wondering how to get the line-drawing effect, go here.

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