Get your photo right

Do you know that people draw conclusions about you in just 1/10th of a second of looking at your photo? Most of that first impression is based on whether you look competent and trustworthy. So you want to put your best foot forward to all those people you’re probably meeting on line every week.

To help you out, researchers have been looking into what you can do to make a good impression the next time you put a photo on your digital resume or on social media, or submit a photo for a conference you’re speaking at.

You can get feedback on your photos with PhotoFeeler. Here’s what they found when they analysed over 60,000 ratings for competence, likability and influence:

  • Don’t block your eyes with sunglasses (which lowers likability), or with your hair, glare or shadows (all of which lower competence and influence).
  • Define your jawline to increase your likability, competence and influence.
  • Men score points for competence and influence when they’re wearing a dark suit, light shirt and tie.
  • It’s the same for women, but drop the tie.
  • Show head and shoulders or head to waist; full body shots and head shots don’t do too well.

Other experts advise:

  • Leave out family, friends, dogs, etc. This seems to affect credibility.
  • Let your photo fill only 2/3 of the frame and be slightly off-centre.
  • Face into the light and avoid direct sunlight and overhead light.
  • Smile and show your teeth.
  • Avoid ‘wide eyes’, which can look frightened or uncertain. Try a ‘squinch’–ever-such a slight squint. (I prefer to think of this as making sure your eyes smile, too.)
  • Women: look at the camera.
  • Men: face towards the camera but look slightly away.
  • A photo at least 600 pixels wide looks good whatever it’s viewed on.
  • Be conservative, not edgy, sexy, or trendy.
  • But have a bright background colour, one that suits your personal brand. Green is said to be healthy and peaceful, red bold and exciting, orange confident and friendly, yellow optimistic and warm, blue authoritative and strong, purple creative and wise, grey balanced and calm.

And I know I don’t need to remind you that whatever images of yourself you put up are going to be there forever!