We all know that first impressions count. In the real world, we can shape our first impressions by the way that we dress, how we talk and our body language. In the online world, many of these cues are absent and we rely much more on a profile photo.

Profile photos are used in many aspects of our lives.  Work-related photos are often formal or semi-formal and used on an organisation's website or professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. 

Personal profile photos tend to be much more casual and might be used on social media (such as Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat) or dating websites, including RSVP, eHarmony and Tinder. Many of the tips in this post apply equally to both work-related and personal profile photos. 

1. Ditch the selfie

With the advent of smartphones, we've all taken these photos. They're the ones taken at arm's length with a device's front-facing camera. The problem is, due to the close subject-to-camera distance, this type of photo has the tendency to really distort facial features. Foreheads become significantly larger and noses are made much more prominent - which is usually not the effect desired by most people. 

2. Choose a background that is appropriate

Messy living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms are no-go zones when taking profile photos. No one wants to see this morning's uneaten breakfast, kids toys or an unmade bed in your profile photo. It's surprising just how many photos taken in a mirror include such objects. 

Go outside and find a background free from clutter and distractions. This way, when someone is looking at your profile photo, you can be sure that they're looking at you, rather than your possessions. 

3. No other people, kids or dogs

We know that you love your kids and pets. But it's best to save those photos for your friends and family. And just to make sure that there's no confusion, make sure that you're the only person in the photo. Also, it's fairly obvious when a group photo has been cropped to include only one person - the giveaway is usually a stray arm or hand that has snuck into the frame! 

4. Use a current photo

You want to make sure that your photo shows you as you are today, not ten years ago. Any illusion that you create by doing this will be promptly shattered 2 seconds after meeting you.

5. Employ the services of a professional photographer

If you really want to convey a professional image for your business profile, or a great first impression for prospective dates, there is no question that high quality professional photographs will help you to achieve this. And employing the services of a Melbourne Portrait Photographer needn't be expensive either. At Stories in Focus, we'll sit down and chat about your needs and objectives even before we pick up the camera. My objective is to bring out the best in your personality and convey this through the photographs that we capture.