How To Take a Great Profile Picture

When starting online classes, students will want to see who their teacher is going to be, and a poor profile picture could put them off before giving your classes a fair shot.

On the other hand, a nice friendly headshot can give a fantastic first impression. Think of it as a chance to connect with your prospective student, and really catch their eye! There are lots of places where you may need an image of yourself, like on your social media accounts, thumbnails on videos, or the about section of your website.

Now, if you have the budget and you want to get some photos taken professionally, that’s fine; but taking photos from your phone can be just as effective, and you won’t need to spend a penny.
Here are three things to consider, which will help you get the results you want without breaking the bank:

  • lighting
  • background
  • presentation


It’s important to be lit from the front, and as evenly as possible. We want to avoid dramatic shadows across your face!

You don’t need to go out and buy fancy studio lights; taking your photos by a window or outside with lots of natural light is a really good approach.

Again, you need to make sure you’re lit from the front, so the camera should be between you and the light source. If you are backlit, meaning the background is brighter than you are, your face will appear dark in comparison.

Avoid harsh shadows and backlighting


It’s important to have a tidy neutral background. In these photos, you are the main focus, so we don’t want a cluttered background distracting from that.You could take the photo against a plain white or coloured wall.
If going with a colour, make sure to choose something that either matches or compliments your brand’s colour palette. You should also think about what clothes you wear. A green shirt against a green background might not look great, and clashing colours could jar a bit also.

A painted wall makes for an easy backdrop


You don’t have to go with a solid colour though. A room in the background can work well. It should be tidy, and relevant to your classes. Your kitchen would be a confusing image for example (unless you teach cookery!)

If you’re taking photos on a phone, try using portrait mode. Most modern smartphones have this option. It usually creates the illusion of shallow depth of field (so your face is sharp but the rest of the background is blurred slightly).

Your phone is a perfectly acceptable camera



If you’re going to all this effort, it’s important to look your best!
Think about what you’re wearing, how you have your hair, and what makeup you choose. This doesn’t mean you need to be primped and preened and ready for the pageant - your best is what makes you feel comfortable, and happy with how you look.
That in mind, you are also dressing for your target market.

Are your customers looking for a professional, someone friendly for their kids, someone more approachable?…To get that message across, you need to dress the part.On clothing - it’s important to consider cultural differences if you are teaching students abroad. Some students may find T-shirts too casual, or be put off by short sleeves or lower cut tops.

Finally, let’s come back and think about the bigger picture.

  • The result we want here is a nice, friendly face, making eye contact with the viewer. (So look into the lens).
  • The background is clean and simple and, to a student, you look approachable, friendly, and professional.
  • Make sure to take a lot of photos so that you have some options to choose from, and some alternative images so that you don’t need to use the same image again and again.

Good luck with your photo shoots, and if you’d like some feedback or advice, please feel free to share the results in the comments below!

Leave a Comment