Picking your final selection from proofs for a headshot session can be difficult. Several of our clients have used Photofeeler to gain insights. They mentioned it often enough that I thought it would be worth checking out. I took some time to post seven of my own headshots on Photofeeler.
I think Photofeeler is an excellent resource. They have fabulous tips that I mostly agree with for appearing more Competent, Influential and Likable in your business photos. I think there are other things to consider as well, but we will get to that later. For the purposes of this article, we will see which of my photos scored best for the three traits Photofeeler measures.
I placed seven photos in Photofeeler for review. I had 20 people review each photo. To get a review, you have to have a credit. Credits can be purchased, e.g. pay $12 to get 100 credits. They can also be earned. Review a photo and get a credit. I reviewed every photo available to review and topped out at about 80 credits. So I bought some more. Here are the seven photos I had reviewed and my thoughts on the results. The photos are shown in order of the total points from ratings.
Photofeeler has some excellent articles on their blog regarding LinkedIn photos. The highest rated of my photos for likability was the half-body photo of me holding the camera. The blazer-with-no-tie photo was right behind. To get higher likability scores they recommend you smile, make eye contact and avoid harsh shadows. That makes sense to me. These things all played better in the photos that scored highest for me on likability. The two shots where I looked away scored very low. The shot where I did not smile scored very low on likability even though it was the highest on being influential. Bonus tip: posture is quote important. A slight lean to the camera can make you appear more approachable and engaging. I did this in my three most highest scoring likable photos.
Smile for a Higher Photofeeler Headshot Score
To appear more competent, Photofeeler recommends avoiding funny facial expressions or gestures, make eye contact, and stand up straight. (But the example really shows a subject leaning toward the camera slightly), don’t use a selfie and show business appropriate attire and setting. All my photos with eye contact scored better here. The gesture where I held my glasses scored lower. The highest ranking for competent was the smiling headshot in the blue shirt with the black and white headshot close behind. Voters seemed to like a more casual attire for a commercial photographer as the three highest scoring photos did not have the suit jacket. If I was an investment banker, they might prefer a suit and tie. One bonus tip from Photofeeler is to wear glasses to appear more competent. I advise people to wear glasses in their headshot if they normally wear them.
To look more influential they recommend a power pose, wear a suit jacket, have the photo taken below eye level (I disagree with this), and to have a professional looking photo. Eye-level is a better position for the camera in my opinion. A photo taken from below, may show you in a superior position, but it also can make you look intimidating or cocky. Also, when you look down at the camera, you may be more prone to a double chin. As for my scores on being Influential, the black-and-white photo without a suit jacket and without a smile scored highest. I think the fact that I listed myself as a commercial photographer came into play here. This photo is more striking and powerful looking. And maybe more arty. It did score low on likability though. The take-away here is to think hard about your choice of wardrobe and what it says about you in the job you are doing.
Crop Tighter on Your Headshot for Recognizability
Are these three traits the only things you should worry about? No. Recognizability is a key trait for a LinkedIn photo. When I do a LinkedIn search on Scott Kline there are 129 results that come up. Everyone needs to recognize me so they can connect with me. I recommend a tighter crop than they do on Photofeeler. My three highest scoring photos used a classic headshot crop that is square, slightly above the head on top and at the sternum on the bottom. This works great on LinkedIn.
Let’s talk a little about color of attire here as well. The photo with the blue shirt is very similar to the one with the suit jacket and no tie. Yet the blue shirt with the white background really pops. Is that why it scored highly on all three traits? The red shirt photo scored highest on likability, but maybe it seems less formal with the t-shirt and camera. We always recommend color options for your photo session. Jewel tones work very well, particularly in solids or very muted patterns.
Hire a Professional Photographer for a more Professional Headshot
In conclusion, Photofeeler is a great tool for getting opinions, but is not the only solution. You need to do a diligent search for a good professional photographer, discuss your goals with the photographer, get help making your final selections from your proofs and then make sure that it is cropped and edited properly.
I encourage to to read the articles on the Photofeeler blog. But get opinions from others in your field who you trust. And do not be afraid to ask your photographer for opinions. I have a headshot evaluator that you can use to grade your LinkedIn profile photo too. I would love to hear from you on your experience with Photofeeler and answer any questions you might have. And we are always available at SRK Headshot Day to create fabulous headshots. You can book your headshot here.