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19 Reasons Your Headshot May Be an Epic Fail

by Tobias Schremmer  |  
July 9, 2012

Early this year, MarketingProfs ran a great article by William Arruda on personal branding trends for 2012. The first trend he listed was about the value of having a quality headshot.

Unfortunately, not enough people are acting on Arruda's fine suggestions. As evidenced by the massive and ever-growing LinkedIn network, the personal branding story is far from reaching consensus with us in the working masses. So, I must speak up!

What is that you say? You HATE how you look in photos? Welcome to the club. But fear not! Anyone can look great, especially in the micro-real estate that is the LinkedIn photo. You just need a little help. (I'll talk more about that at the end of this post.)

After carefully combing through several hundred LinkedIn photos (offered via the page that says “People I May Know”), I have come up with these 19 personal epic fail photo categories.

Names are not listed to protect the guilty---but you may know who you are from the descriptions.

  1. Just straight-up blurry. (Hello, I’m Digital Photography 101. How have we not met before?)

  2. Terrible lighting. (Are you the Dark Knight rising? I can barely make you out from all those shadows.)

  3. The “Sears portrait” background. (Your 1981 yearbook called… )

  4. Random or odd background images. (My man, NICE shot of the waiter behind you carrying a wine bottle under his arm. You are such, like, a restaurateur.)

  5. Classic Facebook-style shot #1. "I’m just way too happy right now!" (Party on, Wayne, but this is LinkedIn! As awesome as you look in a lei, you are succeeding in creating visual cacophony on what we all know is a business network.)

  6. Classic Facebook-style shot #2. “Look at my irresistible baby (or pet)!” (How dang adorable your offspring is! Oh, but wait, wasn’t I on your page to learn about your work accomplishments?”)

  7. Classic Facebook-style shot #3. “Check me out in my low-rent apartment, as evidenced by the microwave oven, IKEA kitchen cabinets, and unclean plates on the counter in the background.” (Even for a “talent management professional,” you should probably tighten it up---unless the talent you manage are pizza deliverymen.)

  8. Classic Facebook-style shot #4. “How cute am I with my significant other in a tight embrace!” (Because, you know, the first thing I want to know about a "marketing project coordinator" is that she is heterosexual and attached.)

  9. The boozy smile. (Really? Of all the possible looks you can show us, you want your future boss to have this first impression of you?)

  10. TheShepard Fairey was here.” Ah, the Obama 2008-style stencil portrait. (Does this even need a snarky comment?)

  11. Full-body action pic. (Jon Krakauer gets to do this, but you, my friend, are a “recruitment solutions specialist.” So that 80x80 pixel image size of your posing on a big rock while on a break from hiking in the evergreens isn’t inspiring confidence in your risk-taking judgment.)

  12. “But I LOVE this photo of me..." You love it, even though my head is right next to someone else’s, the ear and left of eye of which you can still see because I can crop a photo about as well as I can consult for your marketing needs.”

  13. The white-polo-and-oversized gut combo. “I’m standing in my white polo shirt holding my somewhat oversized gut with my left hand.” (I’m gonna go out on this limb and suggest that you, a “digital media sales professional,” opt instead for a friendly CLOSE-UP of your face, if just to spare us all the spare-tire imagery.)

  14. "Side shot of me working the phone, baby!” And a corded phone no less, because you’re old-school landline-ing it, son, with your pen in hand filling out that big contract you just got a verbal on. (Wow, no way! You use a phone and a pen in your cubicle? So do I!)

  15. Mediocre black and white. (Black and white can really work---if done correctly. However, if your B&W was taken by your 1-megapixel camera circa 2006, then you’re not achieving the desired effect.)

  16. “I’m all business and think that smiling is a sign of weakness.” (Lighten up, Dwight Schrute. Even “CRM integration executives” at Fortune 500 companies can show humanity.)

  17. The "I'm important" shot. “Check me out! I’m a CEO who speaks at conferences, as you can see from the ad:tech event sign behind me and the microphone and podium in front of me.” (When I just see that, I think one thing: “What a tool.”)

  18. The group photo. “Here I am, Account Director, along with three other people all scrunched up into this tiny photo! Oh, and to make it even more awesome, see how the outdoor sunlight is BEHIND us rendering all attempts at identifying any facial features impossible?” (This combination of photo faux pas immediately triggers in me a strong reaction: gladness. I’m glad I can’t tell which one of these faceless folks happens to be you. Next.)

  19. My favorite fail. The photo that shouts, “Seriously, world, look at just how strikingly beautiful am I in this over-the top-glamour shot!” (Congratulations, my dear, you’ve just turned every male viewer of your pic into Joey Tribbiani, and every female viewer into, well, I won’t go there.)

Like you (probably), I’d sooner sit still for a photo session than I would lay down in front of a herd of stampeding hippopotami. However, I'm fortunate to have a close friend who is an amazing photographer for The Studio Deux.

The scales fell off my eyes on this subject after I saw what he was able to do. He didn't just take a “competent” photograph that avoided all of the pitfalls listed above, but he went beyond "good enough" and achieved that Annie Leibowitz thing and capture the essence of my personality. I’ve gone from “Ugh! I have to pick a photo for this webinar/blog post/business network!” feeling to“Hmm, which one of these awesome photos should I use this time?”

As Arruda noted in the MarketingProfs article, personal branding is no longer just for CEOs and entrepreneurs. All of us should look our best online---especially on LinkedIn.

So, if your online photos need a refresh (and at least 9 out of 10 of you reading this fall into this category), get some help. Call my guy David or find someone like him who can bring out your best in a photo.

If you don’t want to do it for yourself and your career, then at least do it for the rest of us who are subjected to your picture far more often than you think!

(Photos courtesy of Bigstock: On the PhoneSpare Tire, and Office Party)

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Tobias Schremmer is a senior sales executive at MarketingProfs.

LinkedIn: Tobias Schremmer

Twitter: @Schremkopf


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  • by Mark Eddison Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Great notes, but where is a copy of the awesome, image improving photograph for the rest of us to use as a reference ?

  • by Roy Young Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Tobias. Great for a summer Monday. I am making an appointment with a professional ASAP.

  • by Al Cooley Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Look no farther.. ;-)

  • by Kimberly Rotter Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    It's hard to see past the sarcasm and find out what your actual tips are. Is there a list of profile photos that you DO like? Oh wait, I know. The smirky smallish smile and the look-deep-into-the-camera one-eyebrow-ever-so-slightly-raised "come hither" shot, right? :)

  • by Fabiola Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Great read. Too funny! This made me rethink my own LinkedIn photo and although it doesn't fall into any of those categories I am indeed wearing sunglasses, which now that I think about it is probably not a good thing...

  • by Dan Weese Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Too funny. The first thing I did was look him up on LinkedIn to see his pic, and you've pretty much nailed the description. I guess I should run out and hire someone to take a similar shot, because that's obviously what works, right?

  • by Andrea of I Assist Your Biz. - Adminstration & Language Services Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    I think, my profile picture is just fine :-)
    Had it done professionally though. I think, if you want to be taken as a serious business owner, than show this site of yours. But smile. After all, you are representing something great!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Roy, glad you liked it. Was one of those posts that just flew out of my fingers, didn't have to think about it much... so much ample material available to work with!

    Please do drop David Lees a line:
    He is based in SF and could possibly come down to LA for you, esp. if he can line up a couple of other clients. He did pics for Ann Handley and several others at MarketingProfs last year.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    You want tips?!
    They are 19 of 'em, in the form of "don't's!" :)

    Thanks for the plug; "smirky smallish smile" - now that is some awesome alliteration.

  • by Daniele Hagen Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Guilty. #12.

  • by Marissa Loewen Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    I think I'll stick with me wearing a moose hat. If a company can't see the potential, I don't want to work there anyways :)

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    I appreciate that, Fabiola... most pics on LinkedIn aren't as bad as I make it sound. But even if it isn't in the "wow, you should change that asap" category, a lot of us could stand to use a refresh. The days of taking a quick pick on your PC's webcam or smartphone and thinking that is 'good enough' are over. I also work with a lot of webinars (usually moderating) and I'm still surprised at the low quality of photos used by speakers. And those photos are typically prominently displayed through-out the full 60 minutes. Some are downright scary... so especially if you are speaking publicly do you need quality digital headshots.

  • by Janet Aldrich Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    I don't think I violate any of your dicta, but since I'm the most unphotogenic person on the planet, I figure as long as I'm not turning anyone to stone or making small children cry, I can live with what I have.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    You should be able to see my pic at the top of this article.
    My LinkedIn page (and professional pic) is here:

    It's image-improving awesomeness is free for your inspiration! ;)

    P.S. I guess when you speak in snark, you gotta expect comments to be in snark too! Love it, people, thank you.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Dan, yes please go out and do likewise! Have the same exact pic of yourself taken - small smirky smiles! If we can get thousands to do that we'll have started a trend. A wonderful trend... (snark quota reached).

    But seriously, if you do want to take it to the next level, don't just hire "decent" (read cheap) photographer. Find a GREAT photographer, someone who can capture something unique about YOU. The pics David Lees took of me captured some little "this is really Tobias" essence. Such a pro draws you out while shooting, finding and capturing a moment where you, even despite yourself and initial discomfort at being photographed etc, reveal a little glimmer of your personality.

    Contrast this with the "Sears portrait" type photographer will sit you on the chair and tell you to turn your head exactly so and do this with your arm and that with chin. Exactly. The same. Way. She tells every other client to pose. We had such a photographer come to a MarketingProfs offsite meeting last year and the pictures were painfully bad.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Yes, smiling is always a good idea! But Andrea, where on your site is your picture?!
    I clicked over expecting to see your beaming face but it's not on your home page or any other pages I checked out... by all means especially with your very personal/local service, a great photo prominently displayed should help your business.

  • by Andrea of I Assist Your Biz. - Adminstration & Language Services Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Website is work in process right now.
    Picture is pretty new, so everything is in the flow...
    But you were talking about LinkedIn anyway. :-)

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Finally, a confession!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Okay, gotcha... well I can't find your last name on your site, so I can't scope your LinkedIn photo either.

  • by Andrea of I Assist Your Biz. - Adminstration & Language Services Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    LinkedIn photo is identical with the gravatar and the twitter picture.

    Thanks for letting me know with the name. I am still a newbie in business and nothing is even near perfect yet. Anyone inventing self-dissolving-after-work-done-robots soon? Beam-tech would be great too ... oh, and time travelling.


    Website corrections (not re-design yet) = to do list tomorrow (probably tonight): 2nd place, right after writing invoices...

  • by Andrea of I Assist Your Biz. - Adminstration & Language Services Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Note to myself:
    Never ever do something "quickly" only because someone is expecting something from you ...

    I've added the picture to the site now, but it looks staunched (made up word or real?) as well as the text.
    This needs a longer sitting than just "2nd on my to-do-list".
    For tonight I leave it up, so that you have a chance checking it out, by tomorrow I will remove it again and will only put it back on once I've finalised my proper website.

  • by Victoria Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    This was the funniest string of comments I have read in ages. Thanks for the I am paranoid about my photo...but awestruck by the successful use of sarcasm.

  • by Ann Handley Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    As an addendum to #12, how about the "I love this photo of me that's obviously from my wedding, because I'm wearing a tux, even though I cropped out my bride!"

    Guys always seem to do this more than women. Yes, you clean up well, mister. But the photo that hangs in your family room isn't the same one you should use on LinkedIn. Just sayin'.

  • by Lindsey Havens Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    This is hilarious, I'll be passing it on. Thanks for sharing.

  • by Sharon Hudson Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Ooo, you forgot one. The dreaded faceless chalk outline default image ... saying "I can't be bothered to post any photo so you'll just have to guess how I look" photo.

  • by sarah huntington Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    This is brilliant! and true- I am a professional portrait photographer and both cringed and laughed at
    Mr. Arruda's synopsis of the pitfalls of self generated headshots!
    I wish every business person would read this and contact me to do their headshot!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    I love this post. Can I just say that it made me laugh aloud for real?

    I'd probably add a #20, though... "Parts of Your Face." That seems to be a favorite, too. So many photos I see are parts of a face... Folks are striving for the artsy look, but LinkedIn doesn't strike me as THE place to get all creative with photos.

    That said, I have a meh photo on LinkedIn, but, by gum, it's a complete photo, not just parts of my face. ;)

  • by Martin Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    That is a very funny article on the requisite social media self-portrait.

    I would like to add my favorite photo faux pas:
    Dear job applicant, don’t worry too much about your LinkedIn photo, I have already seen your arrest mug shot when I Googled you!

    Ouch, true story.

  • by Kanti Purohit Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    OK. Between comments and a long list of don'ts, I am lost.
    Instead, I thought I ask for direct feedback from "experts".
    Please rate my Linked headshot on a scale of 1-10.
    Comments welcome as well. Here is the url:

    Thanks in adavnce.

  • by Kanti Purohit Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    How do I edit my comments?

    Anyway, here is a correction: Thanks in advance.

  • by Terri L Maurer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog


    Thanks for the afternoon chuckle. I've seen every single one of the pics you mentioned... and those added by others in comments. That statement: "You only have a few seconds to make a first impression." applies here. If viewers are distracted by wandering thoughts of your 'unusual' selection of personal images, odds are they will be missing the more important parts of your on-line 'resume'. All social media sites, and their cultures are not alike. A personal FB page for friends and family is OK for a more relaxed, 'this is me' image, but others where we are looking for clients and customers, require a more professional image to boost our professional credentials.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Love it... that's a surefire way of pre-winnow down potential business!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Janet, I feel ya on that... but if you do ever get a chance to sit for a really good portrait photographer, do it and see what happens. There's a reason people in the fame business spend a lot of effort and $$ to get this right, many of them aren't naturally photogenic.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    What she said... and ALWAYS the cropping job is pitiful. A perfect storm of bad concept poorly executed!
    And for the record, the couple of examples I saw in my network when I wrote this article were girls, though not apparently not wedding pics... just sayin'.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Thanks for catching that... I had a mini-existential debate with myself about including "none" but I couldn't summon the necessary snark to accompany that one!

  • by Brenda Lindfors Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Another faux pas image.... the hallway snapshot taken under flourescent lights that makes you look green or yellow or blue.

    I'm a professional photographer and I know how awkward it can feel to be in front of the camera. I work with clients on this all the time and they are often surprised by what great shots they come away with. The right lighting. posing and attention to detail can go a very long way toward creating a pleasing, professional well spent to reflect your personal style and "brand".

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Sarah, I'm pulling for you and the many other photographers who specialize in portraits and further aim at business people who traditionally haven't been a big part of your bookings. Ride this trend and make us look as good as Brangelina, please..

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Hey Kanti... well, I put up this list/article, so I feel compelled to bite on your offer.
    Keeping in mind that I'm about no more of an expert than any other power user on LinkedIn...

    It's perfectly fine. If I had to change something I'd say the composition isn't ideal for the 80x80 pixel space on LinkedIn - too much "full person" in the image, so you can't really see your face. So I'd zoom/crop the pic or get a new one taken that is a close-up that captures more of your personality.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Really appreciate it, Terri. You summed up the key takeaway perfectly.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Spot on. I'm glad to see a few photo pro's pipe up in these comments. I couldn't agree more. As much as digital photography has made lots of us amateurs good enough to be dangerous, there is no comparison when you let a truly skilled person take it to a way higher level.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 9, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Veronica... yes, that's a good #20. I didn't see any such in my survey the night I wrote this but come to think of it, more than a few people have gone in for this style. It's the wrong venue. It says a couple of things to me... "I think I'm ugly so I'm going to cut out much of my face so you can't tell," and also "I'm too cool for school and I probably won't accept your invitation to connect on LinkedIn because I'm a busy artist..."

    P.S. I'm glad you don't cut your lovely face in half in your pic ;)

  • by Kassie Nelson Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Love this! I am unfortunately guilty- #8. It took me forever to find a picture I liked! Time to do something that I hate more than public speaking I guess- have my picture taken. Oh the agony....

  • by David Lees Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Moose hats have been known to open many a door... especially if you are in the Moose hat business!

  • by David Lees Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    In all honesty, I can totally relate - even I as a photographer have found it difficult sitting for a portrait! The key is for the photographer to create an atmosphere so comfortable that you can almost forget the camera is there. It becomes more about teamwork - the interaction between you and the photographer.

  • by David Lees Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Hi Kanti,

    I think your profile picture communicates "formal yet friendly". If that is what you want to convey as CEO, then it works really well. I would agree with Tobias though, in that the image as a profile photo could be cropped a bit tighter in order for you to be more easily recognized. But used as a Bio picture on website for instance, the current crop is fine.

  • by Harry Hallman Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    :-) This proves just how boring marketing has become. Tobias' humorous (at least I thought it was humorous) look at profile pictures has 41 comments when virtually all other actual marketing related blog entries get from 0 to 7 comments. Perhaps this is a lesson for us or perhaps all the other articles just suck.

  • by Andrea of I Assist Your Biz. - Adminstration & Language Services Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Couldn't find your head shot on LinkedIn ... Give that Lady a hand.. head.. please :-)
    Usually I get easily annoyed with automatically playing music on websites, but in this case:
    wonderful music on your website.
    a) because it is great music anyway
    b) because of the interpretation
    c) and the great skill in playing it.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Harry, for the 'humorous' plug. But nice backhanded dig right after that, contrasting my article against "actual marketing" articles! What? A guy can't get away with a snarky write-up on LinkedIn headshots and have that be considered 'marketing'? "Personal branding" - isn't that not "actual marketing"??

    Well, then again, maybe you're on to something. If anything, this note about # of comment is a nice ego pop for me. Even though at least a 1/3rd of these 41 (now 42) comments are mine - but they count, darn it...

    Now I have to go look up your LinkedIn photo to see if you have "actual" marketing credibility... LOL ;)

  • by Harry Hallman Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Didn't mean it as a dig Tobias. I just tried to make a point that so much of what we read today about marketing is boring and not very helpful. At least your article put some smiles on our faces, although at the expense of those poor folks who have hideous profile photos. (Now that was snarky.)

    Actually, I found your article to be well written and as I said Funny.

    I think you will find my "marketing creds." are up to par, but you are not going to like my profile photo. :-)

  • by Candice Hughes Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    You forgot to mention the famous "LinkedIn" blur. That's where you take a sharp, crisp photo with a high quality camera then when you toss it into the LinkedIn shrinky dink box, it comes out nice and hazy. I believe they do this out of consideration for all those people who are unhappy with their photos and would prefer to have them fuzzed out a bit (you know to hide blemishes, wrinkles, etc). It's like a built-in airbrush. Only not so good.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    All I can say is... thank God for Photoshop! :)

  • by Kanti Purohit Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Tobias. I'll crop it. BTW, I did crop the same pic on m Google+ profile.

  • by Kanti Purohit Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, David. Appreciate your comments.

  • by Maria Ackies Tue Jul 10, 2012 via blog

    Tobias, (may I call you Tobz or Toby...your pic definitely sends out those vibes) any suggestions for the quirky, artist/designer/professional who has yet to figure out the right "look" that one wants to convey to one's diverse clientele? ;-)

    In all seriousness though...great article. I actually need to put this at the top of my list. It's a pitfall that ensnares many in my field...Too busy making other people look good that we either forget or neglect to make ourselves shiiiine. Image may not be everything but it says a whole lot!

    Kudos to you friend!

  • by John Harris Wed Jul 11, 2012 via blog

    Oh yes! This certainly nods to the rare and elusive "Plastic Face" genre of professional head shots. You know the kind: so completely overworked the subject is more mannequin than human. Whether a result of lack of photographic skill or the subjects insecurities, ugly retouching is just another bad idea. Let's "face" it; if you are having character lines and wrinkles removed to look younger, the only person you are fooling in your life is yourself. When people meet you face to face, they'll see the real you in a way that Photoshop can never fix. Learn to love yourself for who you are, combine that with a great photographer and the results can be majestic. Now everyone run into the streets and chant: "Friends don't let friends drive photoshop!"

  • by Bee Wed Jul 11, 2012 via blog

    Great read. I have come across many profiles that fall under your points above. I think some people forget that LinkedIn is meant to be showcasing your "professional talents" and not your personal live style.

  • by Mike Wolpert Wed Jul 11, 2012 via blog

    Now I'm concerned that my "Smirky Smile" might be too broad - and perhaps confused with a "Smirky Grin" ... Confound it Tobias, you make this a bit challenging!

  • by Amber King Wed Jul 11, 2012 via blog

    This is so true. First impressions are important no matter what people say. We have to remember that the first thing that people can see is our photo especially for linkedin, which is a business network.

    Thanks for sharing this Tobias. Like your linkiedIn pic by the way. : )

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    And y'all thought coming up with "just the right" smirky smile was child's play! ;)

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    Yeah what a great batch of comments...we basically wrote a follow-up article to the original. Glad you enjoyed.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    Imagine if police departments used professional portrait photographers to make arrested individuals look their very best? Especially now in the age of digital postings of these typically scary/terrible/pathetic-looking photos. I guess that would defeat the point that being arrested leads to bad outcomes...

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    Just checked it out, looks good (better)!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    Maria! One of my oldest friends! Are you Googling me, or how did you come across this article?! ;)

    Finding the "right look" as a quirky artist/digital design pro or similar is probably impossible on the micro-real estate of the LinkedIn profile photo. Plus, you still want to be "professional" looking on LinkedIn even if you aren't in Corporate America. Your goal is to get people to click over to your site where the full range of your talents can be showcased.

    The "artist/photographer/creative-type" like you and David and many others, *can* get away with a profile pic that is more outside the box. Now, I just noticed that your LinkedIn profile has NO photo - and, my dear, that is a shame! Please - find/take a quality close-up that captures a glimpse of your fun personality and get it up there. No photo, these days, is arguably as problematic as a poor photo - as has been pointed out here on the comment board.

    Side-point: It is fascinating (to me) that so many artists/designers, and even photographers, are themselves crazy camera-shy and therefore do not have great a stock of great photos of themselves available.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    Thanks Amber, very true.

    Any/all credit about my profile pic goes to David Lees (

  • by Tobias Schremmer Thu Jul 12, 2012 via blog

    A ha - - Is that your LinkedIn photo with a cute-snuggling-child?!?

    Maybe you get the "I'm the CEO and I'll do what I want, you can't fire me" exemption... ;)

  • by Harry Hallman Fri Jul 13, 2012 via blog

    Especially since I am now an independent consultant and don't have any employees or bosses to please. (Other than my wife who doesn't use a computer) Now please know I agree with what you are saying about having a good profile photo. It is just at my age I no longer give a ...... . Well you get the picture. :-) Anyway, it is harder and harder to find or create a good straight on photo. Having my granddaughter in the photo helps me hide a lot . :-)

  • by Tobias Schremmer Fri Jul 13, 2012 via blog

    I can't say I've noticed this one but I'm sure it happens. I'm going to look for it...
    Thanks for the add!

  • by Robert Piller Mon Jul 16, 2012 via blog

    Funny, well-written article. I tend to agree with those who say the LinkedIn portrait should be different than the Facebook and other social media images...unless you are in the fun business. That being said, unless we are in the medical field or mortuary business, how many of us cannot find a fun angle to promote ourselves and our business? That would include teachers, architects, accountants, etc.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 16, 2012 via blog

    Thanks for the kind words, Robert.

    That comment sparked me to do a quick advanced search on LinkedIn... searching on current title="Funeral Director" and I got 5,057 contacts. A quick scroll through their profile pics shows that most are smiling, nary a single Herman Munster in the bunch. Well, except for Angelica here:


  • by Linda C. Tue Jul 17, 2012 via blog

    This may be redundant, but great, great article, Tobias! I was chuckling from the start to the end.

    Again, thanks for the laughs!

  • by Jan Guy Wed Jul 18, 2012 via blog

    Well, it sounds like mine is ok - I think.

  • by Clyde P. Wed Jul 18, 2012 via blog

    I blame other social media sites for these problems. Linked-In is designed to be more professional. However, everybody just thinks of it as another social media site. Suddenly they're experts and tend to treat it like it's the same as Facebook, twitter, etc... I think that's one reason people make poor choices when it comes to taking profile pics. Just something to consider.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Wed Jul 18, 2012 via blog

    Great stuff, Linda, I'm happy you enjoyed it and thanks for the publish on your blog

  • by Tobias Schremmer Wed Jul 18, 2012 via blog

    That could be a factor, sure. I've been on LinkedIn many years. But until I sat with David Lees and got great photos taken, my old way to handle my profile photo was to try to take a decent pic with a neutral background. But when I really looked at the photos on LI and got the idea to write this article, it occurred to me how few people even seemed to aim for 'adequate' and settled instead for 'barely above lousy' to 'downright awful.' Whether that was because they think LI is just another social network site or not is almost besides the point.

    So I hope more "regular workers" who fill up the majority of LinkedIn members come around to the idea of paying a few hundred bucks to pro photographer to get a batch of truly fantastic pics. These can be used for years, and not just on LinkedIn but many other business settings, like avatars when attending a virtual event, bio pic if speaking at or moderating a webinar or other event, professional blog/website, etc.

  • by Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva Thu Jul 26, 2012 via blog

    Great advice and absolutely invest in a GREAT photographer. I still use photos taken a couple years ago because 1) they are just that great and 2) I try not to change my look. The investment in the visual elements of this online world really do bring us together...

    And LinkedIn's own research shows that a profile with a picture (any picture) gets selected from a search list 40 times more often! Imagine how much more a great photo (and headline for that matter) will do for you! We offer free resources and video training at for those who need the how-to's, but Tobias... I'm a new fan and will continue to read your enlightening and fun content!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jul 30, 2012 via blog

    Really appreciate the response, thanks Lori. Your site looks interesting... I should talk to you about advertising with us! :)

  • by Stephanie Thu Aug 16, 2012 via blog

    Preach it!

  • by Ron Snyder Tue Oct 2, 2012 via blog

    Great advice! It's easy to just pick a photo and not think too much about it. I love the photos and some of the examples!

  • by David Corle Wed Mar 6, 2013 via blog

    I love lists like this...mostly because they are painfully true. As a headshot photographer I feel very passionately about having professional headshots and feel that many people are doing their careers a huge disservice by neglecting this aspect. Thanks for the great article.

  • by Tobias Schremmer Wed Mar 6, 2013 via blog

    I thank you for the nice comments... I did feel like I was making a clarion call on behalf of all headshot photographers!

  • by Tara Fri Jun 21, 2013 via blog

    Thank you very much for this list - I need to find a photographer now!

  • by Tobias Schremmer Mon Jun 24, 2013 via blog

    Thanks ILP - anytime I get the coveted "marketing guru" label, I'm all ears... :)
    However, your link hasn't worked today so if you get a chance to repaste it, I'd love to peek into the conversation your internal post generated...

  • by Sarah Mon Aug 19, 2013 via blog

    Now I'm worried! My photo is one of many taken in my university grad session; not a cap-and-gown monstrosity but a face close-up in my normal clothes. Smiling too much? Too posed? This article appears designed to cause insecurity :)

  • by Yucel Yalim Wed Oct 14, 2015 via web

    Sometimes, depending your field... looking wildly happy (#5) is the right look.

  • by Yucel Wed Dec 9, 2015 via web

    Hilarious... the truth can be funny.

  • by Jerry Burges Tue Aug 30, 2016 via web

    Hehe funny but true, mine look like professional headshots now, but at first they were really funny :)

  • by Calvin Pennick JR Wed Feb 15, 2017 via web

    Photography is so accessible nowadays that people take it for granted. Using a professional photographer for you headshots is a lot more affordable than most people think.

  • by Monalisa Matache Tue Aug 1, 2017 via web

    Really great advice with informative note

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