This is Yuriko, a good friend of ours who we suggested sign up for a Facebook account. Though she wasn't really happy with any photo she had to use as her profile image. So we decided to help her out by taking a super quick photoshoot outside. She was quite pleased with the results and so were we.
I've noticed though that a lot of the profile photos I see on the daily news feed these days could've actually been so much better. So I've noted down for you some of my tips on setting up an ideal profile "portrait" for your social networking page.
But certainly each to their own, it's a free world and it's your persona to play with. So please disregard all this if you're hell-bent on using your childhood photo, your kid's photo, your pet's photo, a group photo you happen to be in, your family photo, a couple photo you have to be in, your dated wedding photo, your sports/music/artist/performer action photo, your body part photo, your I'm a tourist "Where's Wally" landscape photo, your eating food photo, your obscene gesture photo, your I've got a drink and about to get drunk at a party photo, your I've got tons of friends and getting drunk at a party photo, your silly funny face photo, your Halloween costume photo, your photobooth photo, your planking photo, your I'm so freakin hot in the mirror photo, your I'm a cartoon character photo, your that's not even you photo. Ok we'll leave it there. I think you know who you are. Or do you.. really.
For those of you still here and keen to shoot a portrait that really captures who you are as a person, here are some things I think could be helpful.
Here we go:
- Having good lighting is the priority. If it's natural light you're after, look for that warm soft lighting in the early morning and late afternoon. Using that light as a backlight can have some pretty good results too like in this photo of Silvia.
- If you're gonna opt for strobed lighting to get that dramatic 3D look, make sure it's off-camera like in this photo of Shaine. The flash on your camera is just gonna make it look like a mugshot. So turn that sucker off, unless you actually want that mugshot look.
- Sharp focus is also key and the eyes have to have it. They're the windows to your soul, or the catchlight you can see here in Yuyi's portrait. Use a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field to melt the background distraction into a buttery blur.
- Keep it simple and don't draw unwanted attention on your clothes, accessories, make-up or hairstyle. Think actor's headshot like this photo of Mark.
- Smiling is great but you have to make sure it's real and genuine. Appiah's candid laugh here especially has that endearing appeal.
- And you certainly don't have to be smiling. Some might say "why so serious?". But Jimmy's relaxed expression here shows a lot of confidence which is sometimes more flattering.
- Use a long focal length to avoid distortion and frame tightly to draw attention to the eyes. It's actually perfectly ok to crop tops of heads above the hairline like in this framing of Ellen.
- Avoid distortion by using a longer focal length than what's on your smart phone. The lens on your iPhone is about a 35mm equivalent, which isn't too wide, but holding it only at arms length away to snap your selfie might add the dreaded ten pounds cameras are infamous for or make you consider getting a nose job. Just don't frame so tightly on the face if that's all you've got. Go for a half body composition like in this shot of Adeel.
Let go of that stress. It sticks out so easily on a still photo. Breath, feel at ease and be yourself. Look how calm and gorgeous Sardana is here.
Relax but watch your posture, and get that chin forward. Be proud and own it.
Thanks and good luck with your shot!