10 Photo Styles: What Does Yours Say About You?

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what are you saying before people even open your profile? The answer to that question depends on the picture you choose to post for your profile shot. What is the right image to present? Honestly, I do not know. This answer lies within each of us individually based on our goals, personality and business segment. However, below are a few thoughts to consider to help you find the answer for yourself.

What do you want your image to share? Do you want to portray to the world that you are a successful business leader or that you are out working the field on their behalf?

Maybe you simply want to show off an accomplishment. Perhaps it is important for you to show that you are proud of your relationships. No matter what you choose to be, say it with the right picture. Besides, it will save you the need to add an extra thousand words to your profile.

10 Photo Styles

Thanks to the help from a few of my network friends, I have been able to develop a list of some of my favorite styles for you to consider. Use these as a starting point when you consider what message you want to send. I must point out that I received permission to share the image of everyone except the last four. Though they did not agree, I could not leave them out as they were the best examples I could find of what ‘not’ to do!

the FORMAL

‘THE FORMAL’ typically gives you the impression that a person is serious, successful, and in a position of leadership. Position yourself as you want to be seen no matter your current position in the industry you serve. Choose the formal look when you want the world to know you mean business.

the RELAXED FORMAL

‘THE RELAXED FORMAL’ tones down the formal with an outdoor scene or a lighter color palette. This look creates a nice image without turning away those that may be intimidated by a more rigid photo. It has been said that the relaxed look gives a feeling of openness and trust.

the TIMELESS

‘THE TIMELESS’ is a great way to make a casual image look more upscale or to tone down a formal image. The cool tone of black and white can neutralize and professionalize any scene. To appeal to a wide range, add a touch of black and white to your photo style.

the PERSONAL CONQUEST

‘PERSONAL CONQUEST’ shows you are more than what you do professionally. Whether you are showcasing a hobby or a challenge you overcame, this image can add a personal touch to your professional relationships.

the LOYALIST

‘THE LOYALIST’ is proud of the organization they serve, they boast their brand by either wearing company apparel or by posing with an iconic company image in the background. Choose ‘The Loyalist’ when you are enthusiastic about the brand you offer and want to be an ambassador of that brand to the world.

the CLASSIC

‘THE CLASSIC’ is a safe bet for most networks. It brings together a clear image of you that is universal. Though it is typically set with a backdrop that could be an office or outdoor scene, the focus is all about you. The photo is not much more than the head and shoulders but not so close up that the image is overbearing. This is a great safe way to appeal to multiple audiences in a professional setting.

the WORKING FOR YOU

‘WORKING FOR YOU’ is what you are saying when you portray a shot of yourself on the phone or at your desk. Potential clients can picture you working away on their behalf as this is the image they will always see. You are passing by rational thought to plant a sub-conscience image telling the world that you are always working.

the AT YOUR BEST

‘AT YOUR BEST’ is my personal favorite! This image shows you taking your talents to the world! What better way to show yourself as an expert in your field than to use an image of you doing your thing. No photo captures the spirit of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ better than the ‘At Your Best’!

the FAMILY FIRST

‘FAMILY FIRST’ shows your priorities in life above and beyond the projects of the day. This style radiates a personal feel while giving you respect beyond the business world.

the NOT

‘THE NOT’ is never into sharing a photo of themselves. If social networking isn’t your thing, then no hurt feelings. However, if you are expecting any attention or forward momentum from your LinkedIn presence I would avoid this class at all costs. Do not leave the question in the minds of potential employers or connections of whether the generic silhouette is staring back at them because you are either lazy or not serious.

Action Time

Do you have a new perspective now? Check out your profile shot again and ask yourself: What message am I sending out before my profile is ever opened? If the answer fits with the message you want to send, then congratulations you are on track. If your answer is no, then set the stage for your updated image, pick a theme, and run with it!

Regardless of your audience, your photo should be professional. A crisp, focused image will speak volumes. One quick way to gauge your photo is to scroll through your contacts without opening them and simply look at each profile image. Make a note of the first impression that comes to your mind on any that jump out at you, and also note who it was as. Then circle the attributes you would most like to project to your network. Try to decipher what it was about each image that made you feel positive so that you can begin the process of staging your image.

I would like to extend a special thanks to each individual pictured above for graciously allowing the use of their image in this article. And thank you for taking this journey with me. I wish you much success in sharing your story with the world starting with the right photo!

What is your favorite style? Do you have a different style in mind that you want to share? Have you recently changed your image? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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Keynote speaker, life coach, author and entertainer, Andy Vargo is all about helping you live your best life by learning how to ‘Own Your Awkward’! If you ever feel awkward about yourself, then you can understand how Andy Vargo lived the first forty years of his life. Coming out of the closet at forty doesn’t define him, pursuing his passion to help others does. During the day, Andy works corporate and school events as a motivational speaker and helps people master life changes as a one on one life coach. At night you can find him working stages around the northwest as a comedian making light of his journey with the gift of laughter. Awkward is not only his brand, but his style as Andy encourages each of us to ‘Own Your Awkward’ and be true to your genuine selves. In addition to authoring the Awkward Journal Series, Andy hosts the podcast, Own Your Awkward, co-hosts the Be The Better Local Show on BD Local and shares thoughts and ideas in his blog and video series available at awkwardcareer.
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Susan Rooks

Bravo, !Andy, and thanks for this! I just put the link in my workbook for an upcoming LinkedIn Profiles workshop for a couple of local Chambers of Commerce! Excellent and timely info, so thanks!

Laura Staley

Thank you for this really thoughtful and helpful article, Andy. I’m still amazed at the folks who have not yet placed a photo with their profile. And I also understand that building a profile takes time, tweaking, and it doesn’t really come to an end. There remain upgrades to do as one’s professional life blooms.

Maureen Y. Nowicki

What a cool read, Andy. I had not really thought about profile photos in this degree, but I see what you mean. The family one is quite unique here. I see yours looks like you are at your best in a thinking and inquisitive mode. Thank you for you really neat perspectives. I surely will keep these in mind as I look at photos in the future.

Maureen Y. Nowicki

Oh yes, and I would call my own “The Push Off” as it looks like I am posing from a way, not only does it look like that, I am! (smiles)