The Top 13 DIY Profile Picture Photography Tips

No money for a photographer? How can you get a good profile picture that doesn’t look like a selfie when you’re flat broke? Today we’ll share 13 DIY photography tips to save you money and help you look your best.

Scroll down to see what following these tips can do for you!

Drumroll, please ….

  • First find good light. Natural light is usually best, but not direct sunlight. Cloudy days are great, as is light shade, especially if there is some light reflected from the side.
  • Taking photos indoors near a large window with natural light (but not direct sunlight) works great. Lighting from the side like this adds character and definition, rather than making you look flat and boring.
  • Definitely avoid overhead lighting, especially fluorescent, unless you’re going for that zombie look. If direct overhead lighting (either natural or artificial) can’t be avoided, use flash on your camera to fill in so that there are no shadows under your nose or eyes.
  • Try to get a reflection or ‘catchlight’ in your eyes.
  • Make sure you’re not in front of anything distracting, or that makes you look like you’re sprouting something out of your head.
  • If you’re working alone try putting a mirror behind the camera, so you can see yourself while waiting for the self-timer to go off.
  • Don’t use a blurry shot. Your eyes especially should be very sharp and clear. Use a tripod or stand your camera on a stable surface, or find a friend with steady hands. Sometimes a ‘burst mode’ setting that takes multiple pictures helps. Often the second or third picture will be less blurry.
  • Place the camera at least 6 or 8 feet away from you, and zoom in to frame the picture. This should give you the equivalent of a 100mm focal length, which is close to the focal length used for portrait photography. It has the least distortion and won’t make your nose look big. Remember: Wide angle is for wide pictures. You don’t want to look wide, do you?
  • Leave yourself room to crop the photo, don’t frame it too tightly. Different sites require different dimensions of photo, so make sure your original gives you some flexibility in how it’s displayed. You don’t want a picture of just your face overlapping the edges.
  • Position the camera around eye-level, and look in the lens.
  • For a sincere smile, think happy thoughts, don’t just smile with your lips. Definitely do smile. Look like someone who other people would want to spend their days with.
  • Don’t go crazy with filters. This is not the time to get artsy or retro, unless you’re an artist.
  • Stand or sit with good posture at a slight angle to the camera and turn your head to look at the lens.

And that’s all there is to it. It might take several pictures to get exactly what you want, but you’re ready to get started.

Here’s an example of one I shot in the light of my dining room window, which faces northeast.

Business-style professional profile photoBoss-Support | Adult Like a Boss
Professional style profile shots are easy with the right light and a little forethought and preparation

Notice he’s leaning forward a little, which makes him look open and friendly. It is a dark room with wooden cabin-style walls. If the walls were white and the windows taller I would have had his face turned a little more toward the light rather than the light coming directly from the side. Under the conditions we had, being  very close to the window was what we had to do, and it worked great.

Why To Wear Sleeves

One thing that I didn’t talk about last week was why you don’t want to wear a sleeveless top, outside of it being too informal for most business pictures.

The main point of your profile pic is your face. The backs of your hands or your shoulders are about the same size and color as your face, so they are visually distracting. Wear sleeves so the center of attention is your face, not your shoulders or arms. That way your eyes and expression shine without distraction.

So there you go. Find indirect light from the side, zoom from a distance, focus, dress nice, catchlights in your eyes, smile pretty,  snap!

Next we’ll talk about what you need to have prepared before your interview, as well as what to wear.

If you have any questions or have some additional tips you’d like share, please leave a comment below!

3 thoughts on “The Top 13 DIY Profile Picture Photography Tips”

    1. Thanks! I wanted to make it simple enough to be doable, without falling into the complex jargon of photography. Some of us nerd like that, but not everyone … and everyone deserves a good pic of themselves!

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