How to create a stunning profile picture

Updated: May 23

Profile picture of Fedor Vasilev

Sometimes it might be really important to give the right impression to the people visiting your profile and the main thing they see everywhere is your profile picture. Depending on the impression you want to make it can be more colourful and abstract or more classic.

Sometimes people even order portrait photoshoots from me just to create a new profile photo. You have to take a really nice portrait photograph to make it worth putting it in your profile.

The photograph should be quite minimalistic.

Since people will see it as a very small picture in a circle, your profile picture should contain only one main subject. The composition should be more or less centred and the subject should be big.

What is the main subject of the profile picture?

In most cases, the main subject of the picture will be you, but sometimes it can be a thing or a concept that represents you. It could be a kind of mascot, the main thing is that it should be well designed. In some cases, people put the logos on the profile picture but we’re talking about photography here. So the profile picture can be a portrait of you, product photography or only a very minimalist landscape for example.

Choice of colours for your profile picture

Choice of colours for a profile picture

If you are a brand you need to define the colour pallet for all of your business. Once you have chosen them - you can do a picture. Your main colour must occupy most of the frame and a secondary colour should be also from your palette. You can also have some hints of a third colour but make sure there aren’t too many colours, it’s better to keep the profile picture minimalistic.

The ratio you can use is ~60% of the main colour, ~30% of the secondary colour and ~10% of the third colour.

I have a blog post about the gradient map tool, it may help you to reduce the number of colours

Abstract vs Classic photograph

I’m not sure if any serious businessmen will find my post. So I assume you are not very limited and strict about the appearance of your profile picture. The main thing you need is to have the least details possible. In my opinion, most probably a classic portrait will look a bit boring while it's also easy to get too far trying to create a unique profile picture. It can be either a close portrait or a medium or full-body portrait but in an empty space. Having a profile picture of yourself on a mountain, in most cases will make it harder to notice you on it.

Man standing on a mountain peak

This example is more or less fine but only because of the contrast between the foreground and the background.

To focus the viewer's attention on the main subject which is most probably yourself, you will need to shoot closer and choose more neutral backgrounds. A better example would be the picture below.

A portrait photograph in front of a brick wall

Closeup Portraits

The close-up portraits will most probably work the best. Since the picture is very small that way it’s simpler to show the main idea

Dramatic headshot photographs

The most important is to have brighter foreground than the background. Try to actually walk around to find the best angle at which most of the sun will be on you but not in the background.

You can also, of course, use plain colours for the background that will help to stylise your portrait but it’s more like a studio photoshoot.

Portraits for profile picture in front of a solid color

Abstract profile picture

I personally try to add some twist to my profile pictures. I use different distortions and reflections.

These are never simple portraits of myself but more abstract works. This way I also minimise the number of details on my profile picture. To easily do that try to search for different glass or bottles etc, to blur out parts of the picture.

Photographer's profile picture

abstract profile photo

Example of a profile photo

profile picture of Fedor Vasilev

I hope in this post I gave you some advice and inspiration. And I hope that you will create a great profile picture that will make your brand or your own style stand out.

If you have more questions or would like my help in creating visual branding for you, contact me and we can arrange a photoshoot.

If you just want to give me feedback or need advice for a specific case, I will be very happy to hear from you!