How to create the best profile Pic for your online profile

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When anyone joins an online social site, one of the first things they do is upload a profile pic. We usually choose this particular image for it’s ability to make us look a little cooler, more approachable, more confident and even sometimes, a little younger. Strangely enough, the profile pic you use has an effect on the audience without you even knowing it.

So, is there a perfect profile pic?

Interestingly, research shows that in less than 50 milliseconds we are able to draw some conclusions about people based on a photo. So, can you influence the viewer? Based on a little research, science and psychology, we’ve found a few interesting fact about the different elements of profile images and the type of impact they have on an audience.

Here’s a good place to start!

If you want to go for something that simply shows “you” some of the best practices are;

  • Asymmetrical composition – balance what’s in the frame
  • Bright background with texture – just make sure your face isn’t too dark (underexposed)
  • Wear contrast – light shirt with dark jacket or vice versa
  • Smile with teeth – nothing over-animated or open mouth, but show a bit of teeth
  • Head and shoulders or head to waist – nothing full length or face only 🙂
  • Shadow and highlight – a little catch light (bright spot) in the eyes and some jawline shadow help
  • Squinch a little – Don’t go for the deer in the headlight look, a little subtle squint is more interesting
  • Face the camera – be looking right down the barrel of the lens

Do you want to appear helpful, approachable or dominant?

We did find some researchers from the Department of Psychology who analyzed 1,000 images of faces. The aim was to find the specific facial tics and features that help create first impressions.

Smiling (mouth) is key to approachability

  • Mouth area
  • Mouth height
  • Mouth width
  • Mouth gap
  • Bottom lip curve

Your eyes are the key to youthfulness and attractiveness

  • Eye area
  • Iris area
  • Eye height
  • Eye width

Facial features help with dominance

  • Eyebrow height
  • Cheek gradient
  • Eye gradient
  • Skin saturation
  • Skin value variation

And if in doubt, get someone to do some great photoshopping for you and you can be anyone you want to be!

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