The 5 golden rules for your profile picture
1.Use a recent picture for your profile. The picture needs to tell people what you look like now. If you are a public figure or in the limelight, use your profile picture to promote what you are working on or presently doing. This will make the picture newsworthy as well.
2.Don’t steal someone else’s identity. There’s nothing worse than putting someone else’s picture. This means exclude pictures of actors, sportspeople, politicians and animals.
3.Look as real as possible. At some point, you are going to bump into or meet the same people from your social media accounts in the real world. Don’t let them be surprised or astonished by finding out that who you are online isn’t really you in person.
4.Group pictures don’t work. Strangers and new contacts will not know which of the people in the group is you.
5.Put some clothes on. You may have a gym body to die for, but let’s keep that ‘show of flesh’ exclusively for private message, posts, updates or dating apps.
How to Groom Yourself
Maintain a style that accentuates your face shape and complements your facial features. Avoid styling your hair in such a way that it covers a part of your face. Ensure the desired shape and look is achieved.
Use hair colour only if you do so in real life. Your hair could look brown, black or grey but avoid going for radical colours just to make a statement where you really shouldn’t.
Eyes must always be open. Your eye shape can’t be changed, but keeping your eyes open makes you look approachable and accessible. You have the option to look straight into the camera or away from it.
The eyes should look clean and bright. The biggest mistake is to take a picture after a night of binge drinking or partying. Splash some cold water before you get clicked and use eye drops if you have red eyes.
Even if you have acne, blemishes or age lines, ensure that in your profile picture your skin looks as fresh, clean and smooth as possible. Follow the grooming regimes regularly suggested in this column to always look good.
Please don’t overuse photoshop or skin lightning apps to change your natural skin tone or colour. A minor edit to fix flaws is acceptable, but anything that modifies what you look like isn’t acceptable.
The lips shouldn’t look chapped or stained. Use a lip balm or lip scrub as and when necessary.
Smile if your teeth are well maintained and clean, otherwise you are best keeping your lips closed. A slight one-sided smirk can look playful.
Beards & moustaches
If you want to look updated with trends and well-groomed, the best way to do it is by going in for a clean shaven look.
If you prefer to sport facial hair, ensure the length has been trimmed and your beard or moustache looks well maintained and neat.
If you have a slim or long neck, you should wear a round neck top or a buttoned up shirt or a tie with a well-made knot.
If you have a thick or short neck, it’s a good idea to opt for a v-neck top or to unbutton your shirt for the profile picture.
Flaunt your body if you are a model, body builder or an athlete. The rest of us normally look better dressed. But I suggest keeping your body pictures reserved for dating apps like Tinder, Grindr or OK Cupid. Share these only when someone asks for them. There’s nothing worse than photo bombing a prospective date with your vitals when that’s not what they asked for.
Wear what reflects you and matches your personality, work or lifestyle.
Casual clothes will make you look real and accessible, while formal clothes will make you look more businesslike and will always get you taken seriously. Similarly, wearing lighter colours sends out a more relaxed vibe while darker colours lend a more serious image.
The Nine Commandments
1.Show your face!
This should be obvious and is extremely important. Remember your profile belongs to you and not your dog or child.
Faces have a unique and powerful imagery. They stay in people’s minds, reflect who we are and make a lifetime impression. Of course, you have passions, hobbies and interests. But your profile picture isn’t the place to make this point. Save that for your bio.
2.Fit into the right frame
Some headshots are too close to the camera. Others are too far away. Make sure you are properly framed, so people can see you as well as a bit of the background.
Your face should fill most of the image. Let the background be there, but be coincidental. Don’t zoom in or zoom out your face. Let them see your face but it shouldn’t crowd the space.
3.Less is more
Avoid over-accessorising. This means you need to use a picture without a cap,sunglasses or too many neck pieces.
Good for you, if you have facial hair and are proud to flaunt it, but don’t let a bushy beard be the only focus of your picture!
4.Show the best face angle & use good lighting
Make sure that you are flaunting the best side of your face. All faces have a good and bad side. Figure out your better side, then flaunt it.
Flat lighting works if your face is perfectly proportioned. You can always play with shadows to highlight or hide the side that isn’t.
Body language is either open or closed. Arms, legs and hands can either express an openness to connect or send out a “closed-for-business” message. Our faces do the same.
If you want to show that you are open, approachable and accessible, it’s a good idea to use a picture in which you are smiling.
6.Add some colour
Colour is a great way to stand out in the crowd. When colours contrast with the colours around them, they stand out.
A white or black top or shirt will always draw attention towards your face and anything coloured will draw attention away from it. For obvious reasons, avoid colours or prints that are too loud, garish or seek unnecessary attention.
7.The back story
The focus of the profile picture should always be your face. Busy backgrounds can take the focus away from you, which isn’t ideal or recommended. I find it best to use a simple or flat coloured background.
The background is also an opportunity to use contrasting colours without changing clothes. Just use a different background when you want to change the look and feel of your picture.
8.Use the same picture
This is especially important for people with common names as well as those that are recognised easily or are in the limelight.
If someone sees you in one place and wants to connect in another, make it easy for them by using the same picture on all of your profiles.
9.Know your audience
While your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat profile picture can have a more casual or fun element, your LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp profiles should have pictures that look more professional.
It’s fine to look sexy and desirable on dating apps, provided of course you exude the same sex appeal when you meet your date or hook up offline as well.
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The author is an image, style & grooming consultant & trainer
From HT Brunch, November 8, 2020
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