Professional Image by Toki Lee Photography

I am not exaggerating when I say hiring a professional to take my photo for profile pictures and my online brand was one of the best investments I ever made. It also was a lot of fun too!

I chose a photographer whose portfolio and experience with business professionals matched the look I wanted. In advance of the photo session, the photographer provided me with guidelines, tips and ideas to make the whole process successful and very enjoyable. (I love it when professionals lead!)

Whether you are an entrepreneur or work for a company, your profile picture defines your personal brand. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer, there are a few practical guidelines that can help get the most mileage out of your profile picture.

1) Determine the “look” you want to achieve. You can do this by stating what you are going to use the photos for i.e. business or pleasure or both. I tailored my images to function well for both business and personal use.

2) Let your personality shine through. Whether you hire a photographer or have a friend take your photo, relax and have fun! How you feel during the process will show up in the image. If you feel good about yourself chances are you will look good too.

3) Consider your dress code and attire. My photographer (Toki Lee ( generally divides the wardrobe styles into three categories: Professional, Casual-Nice or Casual and highly recommends a “simple is better” approach. Here are some of her recommendations regarding wardrobe:

  • No big patterns or stripes or florescent colors.
  • Avoid whites if you can (although a white button-down under a suit, cardigan, etc. is fine).
  • Only wear simple and subtle jewelry – nothing too distracting to take away from your eyes and personality.
  • Bring a couple of options for each of those three styles to your photo session.

Toki believes clothing is not nearly as important as it used to be since most images including professional head shots are used online, generally in thumbnail size. Ultimately, the neckline and good grooming practices including hair and makeup are really what matter most.

A quick online search revealed that other business and marketing professionals agree with the importance of a relaxed and comfortable profile or headshot photo. They also highly discourage “selfies” for professional profile uses. A LinkedIn Pulse article titled: “What Your Headshot Says about You” concludes that a “selfie” profile image does not convey professionalism that would make clients; prospective clients, partners or employers take them very seriously.

Lorrie Thomas Ross confirms how your image is conveyed through your profile photo. “You cannot not communicate.” Lorrie suggests to look critically at the way you present yourself both personally and professionally. Make sure that if the photos used are not the same they are consistent in style and image.

And the best part – the BEFORES!  Here are a few of my in previous images used in social media profiles:


LinkedIn article:


Toki Lee Photography: