So the question is “Should I use a selfie for my LinkedIn profile picture?” The answer is “No.” End of article. Oh, ok. I won’t end so quickly.
I’ve already read a number of articles on LinkedIn about whether or not to show a profile picture at all on LinkedIn, and if so, what kind of picture should be shown. Should you show a picture of yourself in a business setting or maybe a picture of yourself at a medical marijuana shop? Should you show a picture of yourself in business attire or perhaps in a stunning bath robe? In your picture, should you be smiling, looking stern, wearing clown make up, etc. (ok, so I’m exaggerating). Since a lot of this has been written about before, I’m not going to write about those things in this article. I’m writing specifically about using selfies.
Let me first mention that I am a professional photographer, among other things. So I’m going to write from a photographer’s perspective. When you take a selfie, unless you are using a selfie stick, the camera is going to be too close to your face. When the camera is too close to your face, it causes perspective distortion. It will make your features look distorted and out of proportion.
In many selfie pictures, the subject’s nose or head may look disproportionally large. Often times their head is in disproportion to the rest of their body. Go ahead and look back at some of the selfies you’ve taken. Do you see what I’m talking about? You might not. Selfies have become so common that many people have become accustomed to seeing this distorted look and think it looks natural. It doesn’t.
Most selfies, I think, are not very flattering. Some almost make the subject look like a caricature of themselves. There was a model that sent me selfies of himself prior to us meeting to discuss his photo shoot. Looking at his selfies I started doing my facial analysis (that’s professional photographer talk) to try to determine from which angles I would photograph him. However, when I met him in person, I realized that his facial features looked different in person than in the selfies. And when I photographed him with the camera at the appropriate distance from his face, I got an accurate representation of what he actually looked like. The pictures were great.
Please understand that I’m not suggesting that everyone has to look perfectly proportioned or that everyone has to meet some specific standard of beauty. Certainly, aesthetic beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds aesthetically unpleasing, another finds quite pleasing. But a picture or portrait, as best as possible, should capture the way you really look (well maybe a little photoshoping around the eyes and mouth). That way when someone sees a picture of you and later sees you, they will realize that they are seeing the same person.
If it were up to me, selfies would be outlawed. But I know selfies are not going away. So please, let me suggest that if you decide to put up a profile photo on LinkedIn, do not use a selfie. You don’t have to go to a professional photographer to get photographed. Just hand your camera phone to your friend, step back from the camera and let them take the picture for you. If you don’t have any friends, have a co-worker take your picture. Or a perfect stranger even. But in the name of all that is civilized, please don’t use a selfie as your LinkedIn profile picture.