How To Take LinkedIn Profile Pictures – Men and Women’s LinkedIn Headshot Tips: Sizes, Cropping, Posing, Smiling, What To Wear, Examples, Wardrobe, Good Examples

Linkedin Professional Photo Tips from a Professional San Francisco LinkedIn Headshot Photographer.

LinkedIn is one of the most heavily trafficked website on the planet. As a marketing and research tool, it is often times the default method for recruiting, competitive intelligence, finding a professional, evaluating possible employers, prospecting clients and partnerships as well as a screening tool for online dating. Users with profile photos receive up to 21 times profile views than those without photos.

How Often Should You Update Your LinkedIn Headshot?

A LinkedIn headshot should be updated roughly every 2-3 years (give or take), sometimes more often than if there is a significant change of appearance, change in job/industry or if you find a fantastic photographer who can capture exactly what you are looking for.

Your headshot should reflect what you would like if someone met you in person. It should also be something you are proud of and would use publicly if asked to provide for a speaking engagement, press release or other time sensitive purpose. It should also be used so people can more easily recognize you out and about which can be good for networking, sales, partnerships or more.

A good time to update your headshot is before you plan to go on the job hunt. With that said, if you are looking to minimize your new look, there are tips to manage settings as well updating the headshot at specific times during the day, week, year.

Additionally, another good time to update your headshot is when you start a new job. Some companies will take you photo for badges, directories etc. so this is a good time to get your headshot if you can. 

There is nothing worst than a terrible headshot. Avoid bad headshots that sabotage your professionalism, reputation, appearance, credibility and approachability.

Do You Need a Professional Headshot?

The first thing you should ask yourself is Do I even need a headshot? Some professions don’t benefit as much from others when it comes to headshots. Individuals who are not customer facing or rarely change jobs in their careers often fit this mold (doctors, nurses, academia, teachers and many blue collar jobs).

With that said, you never know when layoffs can occur, when you might be pursued by a competitor, have a career change, need a photo for press purposes or will be searched for when using dating apps. Obtaining a headshot on short notice can be a stressful process (haircut, wardrobe styling, posing, facial hair, securing a photographer etc. takes time).

Some people are good at taking a photo of themselves via a selfie stick, timer but most folks need help to take a good photo. For one, taking a photo too close to the subject can distort the person making them appear wider, bigger.

Taking a photo of yourself is challenging – lighting, background, unbiased feedback are a few of the advantages a professional brings to the table. Selfies can appear unprofessional and that is the last thing you want to convey on a professional networking platform.

Good LinkedIn Headshot Photo Examples:

LinkedIn Headshot Dimensions, Sizes Cropping

A LinkedIn headshot photo has a circular crop for photos and the minimum size is 400px by 400px. I usually recommend clients stay at or slightly above (500 to 600 pixels). Anything bigger is usually too big and will take up too much of one’s screen, reveal less than flattering detail and increases opportunity for theft, misuse etc. 

Due to LinkedIn’s circular crop, not all photos can easily be formatted to fit a LinkedIn profile. Often times users have a portrait oriented headshot (photos taller than they are wider by a factor of 2-3x) that is too tall and narrow and ends up being cropped too closely on the left and/or right sides resulting in the face taking up too much of the space provided.

I typically recommend heads and top of shoulders should occupy around 70% of the frame. Anymore is too close and anything smaller is too distant and small for traditional headshots. When taking photos for clients, I always provide various options for crops for clients to accommodate various needs (websites, press releases, social media etc.). 

How To Crop a Photo For LinkedIn Profile Picture

Not all photos can easily be formatted to fit a LinkedIn profile. Often times users have a portrait oriented headshot that is too narrow and is cropped on the left and right-hand sides leaving users to either crop the photo closer than desired or add some white space to the sides. For this reason I always provide various crops for clients for versatility. If possible try to fill in the empty spaces with a photo editing tool (can easily be done for most neutral backgrounds).

Depending on the background, a good photo editor might be able to fill in extra space to allow for a square/circular crop. This might be a quick fix or it can be rather challenging, it all depends on the detail, blur and noise of the background in question.

Most headshots are cropped slightly above the chest and below the shoulders so that you take up around 60%-70% of the space in the frame. Exceptions to this general rule of thumb would be a speaker photos, stylists, wellness, fitness or environmental photos (those that rely on backgrounds i.e. offices, place of business).

LinkedIn Background Cover Image Tips

As for LinkedIn cover photos (also known as background photos), logos, check out the LinkedIn guide for minimum and recommended sizes. I often recommend using a photo that is relevant to location (particularly for big cities) such as a city skyline or something related to your industry. I would recommend using a stock image site to get ideas as well as looking at other professionals in your field on LinkedIn to see if something strikes your interest.

What Should I Wear In My LinkedIn Headshot

Wardrobe is key in a headshot even though most headshots only feature a sliver of the outfit, attire. The main thing to look out for is not to clash clothing colors with your skin tone nor background. Stay away from loud patterns. White shirts should be avoided unless couple with a tie or jacket, scarf or cardigan. Turtlenecks and shiny clothing is generally a no-no.

When in doubt, send a snapshot of the outfits you are considering to your photographer if he/she offers specific recommendations. Most photographers do not consult on specifics of your wardrobe but if they do, take advantage of it. Some general inspiration can be found on these Pinterest boards for men and for women.

The other thing to consider is your industry and company. Most tech companies are relaxed and more casual than most industries but your attire should still be clean, have a good fit and still be professional. When in doubt, review colleagues in positions you are aiming for – dress for the position you want, not the one you are in.

Clothing Style, Wardrobe, Accessories, Colors, Fit For Headshots

Make sure your wardrobe is fitted to your body-type and not too bulky nor too tight. Your clothing should be free of wrinkles and stains. For the most part, shoulders should be covered, low/plunging necklines avoided, bulky necklaces avoided, makeup should be kept at a minimum (what you would wear to the office, not what you would wear for a night out).

Being professional is always key but you can add some flair and individuality with your haircut, necklace, eyeglasses, piercings (studs or small earrings are best), facial hair, background, color of clothing etc. Wardrobes should exemplify what you are trying to sell – creativity, professionalism, approachability, power or knowledge. 

I am a big fan of jewel tones and pastels. This might not be appropriate for industries like investment banking, government jobs etc. so look for examples in your organization, leadership and competitor profiles. If wearing white, beware of glare in your photos that might blow out the color and reveal too much shine.

Posing and Smiling Tips for LinkedIn Headshots

Headshots are typically take at eye level of the individual and not significantly above or below that level. Subjects should be pulled into the frame by placing weight on the balls of their feet and not arching back as if trying to take a selfie. You can do this by stepping on the edge of a curb, wearing heels or bending ever so slightly at the waist (less than 5 degrees).

As for angles, you should not have to turn your torso and shoulders more than 15-25 degrees away from / toward the camera. You should practice your headshot by rotating your torso and face in 5 degree increments to the left and right.

Smiling too much may not work for your profession but it can for others. Similarly, looking too professional and stern can appear unapproachable, self-absorbed. A small smirk, a light contained smile, a slight squint is all it takes to get a get shot. Having your eyes too wide open or too closed seems like you are too eager or too intense. Finding that sweet spot in the middle is recommended.

What To Avoid, Bad LinkedIn Headshots: What Not To Wear, Filters

One common mistake people make is copying a headshot they have seen from someone in a different field i.e. modeling, fashion, acting headshots, creative fields etc. Save these for your personal photos.

Your headshot should fit your industry and company. Not all headshots translate across industries and professions. Look at others in your company, competitors or those that are well known in companies and positions you seek.

Also, excessive photoshopping, skin softening and filters are a big no no. I can’t tell you how many times I had trouble finding someone in the office, networking event or meeting because their headshot was altered beyond recognition. Photos like this signal insecurity, lack of emotion or at least will cause some confusion.

Worst LinkedIn Headshot Photo Examples 

Cliche bad photos include cropped photos from a social event, casual photo taken with uneven lighting, dark, blurry and distant photos. Avoid these at all costs. Also, photos cropped too close and show a floating head (photo cropped at the neck or higher) are generally not advised.

When it comes to wardrobe, avoid spaghetti straps, tan lines, wrinkled shirts and blouses. Use collar stays or starch so the collars on your shirt are stiff. Avoid colors that are too similar to your skin tone i.e. if you are a little pale, avoid white shirts unless wearing a sweater, cardigan or blazer over it.

Can I Take My Own Headshots?

Yes, you absolutely can but most people who attempt to do this do a poor job. Whether it’s unflattering selfies, angles, lighting or lack or sufficient camera quality to convey professionalism and reputiation.

How Much Do Headshots Cost?

How much does a professional headshot cost? I get this question a lot. This will depend on a myriad of factors including how far the photographer has to travel to you, amount of time spent on the photoshoot, amount of time editing, location scouting and research to develop a custom photo.

You are not paying for the time of the shoot alone but rather expertise to know what looks great, take photos in an efficent manner and in cases like mine, wardrobe review, formatting photos for various outlets in terms of size, orientations and website pageload speeds. How much should headshots cost should also depend on location and cost of living for the professional.

If you want to reduce your costs, find someone local, use a generic background, and trust the person with little to no experience knows not only what makes for a good photo but knows how to coordinate your wardrobe with your background and skin tone and hair color and can give you guidance on grooming, makeup, jewerly, posing as well as know which photos are optimal for your industry.

Headshot costs can range from $200 to $500 or more depending on number of outfits, number of photos, editing time, preparation, location scouting, particulars (research, planning), location, time to travel and turnaround time.

Thoughts On Headshots Black and White?

They are ok for corporate websites to create consistency but individual photos for websites and Linkedin should be in color to represent personality, wardrobe etc. Most people who use them do so because their company took their headshots and wanted some uniformity across their staff in their photos and employees.

Most people on dating sites change their color photos to black and white to make themselves more attractive but this little diry secret is obvious now and suggests you are trying to hide something if it is not necssary for aesthetics of a website or branding.

Thoughts On Headshots On White Backgrounds?

Usually these are a bit plain, same philosophy can be applied as to corporate headshots taken in black and white – more so done for consistency but they lack individuality, character, personality. This is true for solid color backgrounds (particularly studio shots).

I like some texture, color and distinct backgrounds in headshots. Environmental portraits are great especially if they capture your place of business, industry or work product.

Studio vs Natural Light Headshots

One of the most popular questions when it comes to headshots is which is better? Studio vs outdoor headshots and natural vs studio lights. Studio shots are limited by the background – they are rather cliche and seem all to similar. Outdoor portraits and headshots offer more versatility but are harder to take because of harsh sun, wind and location scouting. Studio shots provide consistency whereas outdoor and natural light headshots provide uniqueness which is ideal for branding and creativity.

How To Change My LinkedIn Cover Photo

Step 1 – Click the edit icon below your cover photo in the bottom right side of the photo.

Step 2 – Click the edit icon on the top right of the cover image in the top right corner.


Step 3 – Click ‘change photo’ and make sure you adhere to recommended size of 1,584 x 396 pixels.

Things To Avoid In A LinkedIn Headshot

Group shots, selfies, excessive photoshopping (skin softening, darkening, shadows lightening), filters, loud backgrounds and outdated photos (more than 3-5 years old or photos that no longer reflect your current appearance – hair length, hairstyle, facial hair) should all be avoided.

LinkedIn headshots are often the first thing people notice about you when looking you up online. Your professionalism, approachability are called into question. Networking is made easier. Trust and familiarity is improved slightly.

Without LinkedIn headshots, people are forgotten and often out of site, out of mind. Stay connected, use the status update of a new headshot to trigger an opportunity to get in touch with lost connections. 

Online Dating and LinkedIn Photos

If you happen to be on dating apps, you should expect matches and future dates to Google you at some point, even if briefly. The rise of scams and catfishing has led to an increase in users conducting quick backgrounds checks on Facebook, Instagram, Google and LinkedIn to verify identities, employment status, age, looks, relationship status and more.

LinkedIn provides a quick easy way for people to get a closeup look at their possible match and date but also verify looks, approximate age, employment status and more. Having a LinkedIn profile and headshot is not guarantee (photos can be outdated and photoshopped) but they are another data point when evaluating suitors in a rather anonymous vacuum that is online dating.

Update 7/1/2020 #OpenToWork Photo Frame – Linkedin released a photoframe (Open To Work) for those seeking jobs. You can enable this function already in your settings but now Linkedin has made it more visible within your photo.

For more general headshot tips, read this post:

About Eddie Hernandez

San Francisco Photographer: Professional Headshots, LinkedIn Profile Picture Photographer, Corporate + Business Headshots, Creative Branding Portraits, Company Culture.

Specialties include: casual employee headshots, workplace corporate headshots, LinkedIn headshots, business headshots, executive portraits, professional headshots, office headshots, online dating profile photos (and dating profile critiques), creative branding portraits, modern company culture and environmental office head shots.

I primarily shoot outdoors, public spaces and client sites (on location, before work, after work, lunch breaks) and specialize in location scouting and creative direction. Assistance with wardrobe and styling is available. 

My ability to put people at ease, guide poses, provide unique backgrounds and create a fun photoshoot filled is what separates me from others. If you hate taking photos or are camera shy, you have come to the right person for your pictures.

Serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Sausalito, Mill Valley, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Mateo, Petaluma, Santa Clara, Marin County, Sonoma, Napa, Palo Alto, San Jose, Stanford, Silicon Valley, Larkspur, Mountain View, UC Berkeley, UCSF, Sunnyvale and Menlo Park. 

Contact me today for your headshot session:

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