Working with a Photographer

LinkedIn photosYou’ve run out of excuses and now you really have made the commitment to get a new professionally done photo for your LinkedIn profile. Here are some tips about that photo – both what the photographer should tell you and what I as a LinkedIn trainer and recent photo subject recommend.

Choosing Your Photographer

  • Get recommendations from friends and check their online portfolio of sample photos
  • Consider whether a photographer you’ve worked with before (for a family portrait perhaps) also does this type of photography.

Getting to Know Your Photographer

You’ll want to have a conversation with your photographer before the photo shoot. Ask questions about what to wear. Express your concerns and insecurities about your appearance – “I want to look like me but I don’t want my double chin to look so bad.” “How can I prevent my bald spot from being shiny?” Although you’ll only spend a short time together, it’s a very personal experience and you should feel comfortable with your photographer. If you don’t, choose another.

It’s important to tell your photographer that one of the uses for your photograph is  for your LinkedIn profile. Be sure they know to take it with enough background that you can choose how you crop it. They may say it doesn’t matter because they can put white borders on the sides – I recommend you don’t accept that answer. *I’ll talk about the reasons why in the next blog about choosing and cropping your LinkedIn photo.

Indoors or outside?

The photographer may recommend or offer indoors or outside.   There is a natural quality to the light and a more relaxed feel to photos taken outdoors that’s currently very popular. However, the photographer has a lot more control over the lighting (not to mention the weather!) conditions inside. I think it’s a personal preference and don’t recommend one over the other.

To smile or not to smile?

It’s normally recommended that you smile for LinkedIn photos – look as if you’re pleased to meet someone. However, there are situations in which some people just can’t smile naturally for a photo and so, for them, I would say to go for a “pleasant expression.”

Can I use an old photograph?

In general a photo for your profile should be no older than three years. There’s no hard and fast rule but you should still look like your photo. Yes, I know you like that one when you were 20 pounds thinner and had fewer wrinkles but unless you’re planning on having plastic surgery to recreate that look before meeting anyone, let it go! With women in particular, it can be hard because we change our hairstyles and color quite dramatically. Let me just say that if someone meets you for the first time after seeing your LinkedIn photo, they should recognize you.

A Choice of Looks?

Most photographers will allow you a choice of a two or three looks, meaning you can bring a change of clothes (and jewelry).   Maybe something with a collar and another without. Maybe a couple of different colors.

Hair and wardrobe

This is the advice popular photographer Katie Cleese (Katie Cleese Photography) gives her clients. Your photographer should also supply you with a list of recommendations.


The main thing to keep in mind when choosing your wardrobe is that you don’t want your clothes do draw the attention away from YOU! Therefore, I usually suggest staying away from any loud patterns or particularly unusual colors… bright orange, for example, will definitely distract people from looking at your face, which is not what you want! You probably also want to steer clear of solid black, as it tends to leave people looking washed out, or a lot of solid white, which can cause a “ghostly” effect. That said, a black jacket with a contrasting-colored shirt or a black shirt with a colorful jacket or sweater, is fine. Beyond that, wear what you’re going to be comfortable in and what will make you feel your most confident, while still keeping in mind the look that you want to convey professionally. Remember, you want to look like the same person that your clients and associates are going to be meeting and interacting with, so business attire that you actually wear is probably the smartest route to take when making your final wardrobe selection(s). 


This follows the same basic ideas as the “Wardrobe” section: you want to look like YOU in your pictures! Therefore, no going overboard with make-up. You want to apply it the same way you would when meeting with clients or associates. The best version of your everyday make-up is a good way to think of it. I will have a few basic things with me, to help with skin shine and flyaway hairs, etc. and, remember, we now have the miracle of Photoshop! Any skin imperfections/wrinkles/stray flyaway hairs/etc. can easily be adjusted in the retouching stage. No need to pile the make-up on! Regarding hair, I would say just do what you feel will help convey the professional image you want. That said, if you’re going to get a haircut beforehand, try to do it about a week or so before the shoot to avoid that “just cut” look. 

General tips: 

These are pretty easy: get a good night’s sleep the night before and try to drink plenty of water the couple of days beforehand. It never fails to make people look fresher and brighter the day of the shoot! 

*Next time I’ll write about how to choose which photo to use and cropping the photo for use in your LinkedIn profile.