Best Face Forward: The Value of a Memorable Photo

Confucius was a heck of a guy but sadly, he never actually said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In fact, as far as we know, that’s not even close to how the saying came to be. And while the notion may be more Don Draper than anything else, the value of visualization remains the same.

This is especially true ever since mobile technology helped make everyone a photographer. In the age of the iPhone, where anyone with a smartphone can establish their expertise and increase their celebrity practically overnight, a picture is worth a legion of followers and thousands of clicks. Take Instagram for example, the online photo-sharing social network that grew by 23% in 2013. The seemingly simple platform is transforming the way social users interact with businesses – from big-name brands to local boutiques. Engaging customers with new items, inviting them to share their own photos and even selling items through posts are all part of this new reality where the photo takes center stage.

At the same time, this newfound emphasis on the photo is also impacting the individual brand. How you present yourself online will follow you beyond LinkedIn though there are countless statistics that show photos increase engagement, particularly on social networks. Having a memorable photo becomes even more important for high-profile thought leaders and subject matter experts seeking recognition and coveted speaking opportunities. Here’s what a good photo entails:

  • Crisp resolution – a good rule of thumb is 300 dpi for print, 72 dpi for online
  • Bright, light background – brightness and lightness are show to encourage interest
  • Single subject – that means you alone. Preferably without cropping out part (or all) of someone else.
  • Professional pose – you don't have to limit yourself to just a headshot but save the vacation snaps for your scrapbook.
  • Up-to-date image – you're better off keeping those glory days behind you or else risk an awkward run-in when someone fails to recognize you IRL.

This doesn't mean you need to rush out to Olan Mills for an elaborate photo shoot. When in doubt, find a spot with good lighting and ask a friend, colleague or family member to snap a few shots. Remember, you want to put your best face forward.