Emeka Ikechi, Director, Vanity Studios

Your use of imagery on social media platforms is not just an expression of who you are but an illustration of how you communicate. If you are a freelancer, own a business, or are simply looking to level up your job prospects, a social media presence is a way to gain new business and grow your network. But you don’t want to make a bad first impression.

So, what types of images do you need to grow your social following?

Headshots

The most important image you will need on your social media profiles is a good headshot. When people can see your face, they gain an impression of who you are, which makes communication feel much more personal.

Unfortunately, many people have terrible or unsuitable headshots for their profile: serious professionals do not have low resolution holiday snaps on their LinkedIn. It may sound obvious, but it is a common big mistake. And that means good news for you. A high-quality headshot will help you stand out in a crowd of terrible photos and make you appear much more professional.

However, while the image needs to be professional, it doesn’t need to be serious and boring. Bring your headshots to life by experimenting with different poses and styles. Perhaps your LinkedIn headshot is stylish, but your Facebook headshot is a bit more playful. Try out different outfits to fit the mood of the image. See what gets the best response.

It is also a good idea to keep your headshot regularly updated. If you change your look (haircut, makeup, facial hair), change your headshot. For example, at Vanity Studios we dress headshots to fit the season, demonstrating that you are active and engaged on your social media: throw on a Christmas jumper to celebrate the festive season, but make sure to swap out for a summer t-shirt once the seasons change.

Product shots

If you are promoting products, having some product shots clearly visible on your social media is essential. People visiting your profile or business page will want to see what you are selling, how it works, and where it might fit into their lifestyle.

Rather than shooting the product against a plain background, consider showing the product in-situ to bring it to life. Your handmade earrings may look great against a black background, but a stylish shot of someone wearing them will feel a lot more real and relatable.

Even if your ‘product’ is more abstract—perhaps an experience, such as a holiday or an entertainment—showing it being lived will help people imagine what it would be like to experience it for themselves. Remember, imagination is a powerful tool in promoting any product.

People also aspire to live fun, enjoyable and stylish lives. Showing your product being a part of that aspirational lifestyle helps cement that idea, making them feel more stylish and fun simply by owning or experiencing the product.

I often suggest to my clients that they model the product themselves, doubling as both headshot and product shot. It also shows that you personally use the product: it’s not abstract or a money-grab, it’s a product you believe in and use yourself!

Action shots

To bring even more personality to your profile, consider doing some action shots. These could be more professional and demonstrate what you do, such as images showing you delivering a presentation, or they could be more fun and demonstrate who you are.

Do you love movies? Get some shots of you dressed up as your favourite superhero. Work as a chef? Let’s get you preparing some food. Put on medieval experience days? Don your suit of armour and get into the studio!

The trick with action shots is to make them fun yet classy. It can be very easy for them to look awkward and cringe-worthy if they aren’t done well. A professional photographer is essential if you want them to look good. A reputable studio will also be able to provide a range of quality props to complete the look.

Whatever images you decide to include on your social profiles, the key thing is to make them high quality. This doesn’t just mean higher resolution; I have seen some terrible photos in spectacularly high resolution. Also bear in mind that most social platforms will limit file/image size or scale down the resolution to fit.

Starting with a high resolution image gives you a lot more options, but merely having more pixels is rarely enough. Images need to shout quality, and this is achieved through good composition, utilising techniques—like depth of field—and setting up lighting to show your best side. Processing images with a few Photoshop touch-ups or effects can also help transform them, making them jump off the screen.

Remember that people regularly check LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to get a sense of who someone is before reaching out to connect or offering a job. Bear than in mind if you find yourself quickly cropping a pixelated wedding snap and imagine how differently you’ll be viewed if instead you upload high-quality photos captured by a professional.

By Emeka Ikechi, Director of Vanity Studios, a contemporary studio for photoshoots in the centre of Shoreditch in London. Since 2009 Vanity Studios has been providing clients with high quality professional photos and an excellent photoshoot experience. The team of photographers and make-up artists ensure each client receives bespoke photography that meets their requirements.