Communications Training: Choosing A Great Profile Photo

Posted by Lauren Hertel on Thursday, June 21 2012


Lauren Hertel

For better or worse, your profile picture is the first thing that anyone surfing the web will see, so it's important to put your best face forward.  Here are some guidelines to help you choose a great profile photo for our website:

  1. Make sure you have a photo on your profile!  People connect with people, so it's important to find a photo to use on your profile.  Don't leave it off, hoping nobody will notice!
  2. Horizontal orientation.  Our new website is set up to use horizontal pictures, so keep that in mind when you're selecting a shot to use.
  3. No sunglasses.  This is the most important thing to remember, since hidden eyes in photos make people think you're not trustworthy.  This is so important that the U.S. Army actually trains soldiers to remove sunglasses before talking to the media!
  4. Clear shot of your face.  This might seem obvious, but you should make sure that your face dominates the photo.
  5. Professional clothing.  If you make sure your face fills the photo, you really only need to make sure you have a professional top on.  No baseball hats, chunky or distracting jewelry, or ragged t-shirts, please!
  6. Hair and makeup subdued.  A light touch is best in these areas... trust us!
  7. Diffused light.  Flash and sunlight can cast harsh shadows and make you squint, so aim for photos taken on a cloudy day or with light coming into a room through curtains.
  8. Outside and/or in the field is great! We're happy to see Fellow profile pictures taken in settings that relate to your work, but that's less important for your profile photo than making sure we can see YOU.

If you choose to edit the photo yourself (completely optional!) and you have access to Photoshop Elements or another photo editing program, make sure you do the following:

  1. Crop the photo to 600 pixels wide by 353 pixels high, or close to it.
  2. Use the Auto Fix feature to correct lighting, contrast, and more.
  3. Use the Auto Sharpen feature to give the photo a bit more "punch" on the screen.
  4. Save it as a JPG image using the High (or 60%) quality setting to maximize the quality while minimizing the file size.

We are happy to help you choose and edit a profile picture for our site.  Just email your picture to Lauren ( and we'll take it from there.

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