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Shoot me, now! (Or: Professional Profile Photos and Why You Need One)

By Ruth
April 23 2015

Posted in Student Resources

Hi, my name is Ruth, and I really dislike having my photo taken.

But as I’m about to launch into telling you how important it is to have a great professional profile picture, here’s a slightly nervous smiley version of mine:

Ruth McDavitt

Profile photos are HARD. I’m putting myself through pain here, to help YOU get a better photo!

Your headshot is one of the most important elements of your Summer of Tech (and other) profiles. Both online and offline. We recommend a photo on a Summer of Tech CV, for the same reason. Your friendly face encourages the viewer to read the rest of your profile/CV, and then when they meet you in person, they feel like you’re already familiar.

A good professional headshot is a shortcut to making a good first impression when you meet someone for the first time.

Humans are hard-wired for facial recognition. (It’s on wikipedia, it must be true!)

Catherine Buchanan

Here’s Catherine, our Auckland Programme Manager



Fact 1: your LinkedIn profile is 14x more likely to be viewed simply by having a profile picture.

Fact 2: Summer of Tech employers overwhelmingly tell us that students with good profile photos are much more likable, recognisable and approachable.

To get a bit more depth to my argument, I chatted to Sabrina Schellkes, the professional photographer who took our Summer of Tech team photos for the website, about what makes a great professional headshot.


Here’s her wisdom in bullet points:

Here’s a bit more advice:

Professional Headshots are PROFESSIONAL (it’ll probably be different to other online/social media profile pictures you’re using)

Getting someone you trust to help you take the picture is a good idea. They’ll help you get the lighting right, coach you to a good expression, and be patient as you take enough shots to get the right shot. People can tell if you snapped a selfie or cropped yourself out of a group shot.

Have a Photo That Looks Like You

No cowboy hats. No cats. Seriously, people!! If the photo is not what you’re going to look like when you meet a potential employer in a work-type situation (or a Summer of Tech event) then you need a better photo. The point here is to be recognisable. Is your profile photo more than two years old? Has your hairstyle changed drastically? If you usually wear glasses, you should have them on in your profile photo.


Smile. But not in a cheesey way.

This is not a passport photo, it’s ok to smile! But try and be natural. This is tricky and where most people start getting self-conscious. We recommend a gentle smile or the ‘smile-with-your-eyes’. This is where asking a friend to help is a great idea, take a whole lot of shots, and pick your favourite (or get someone else to pick the best one for you, that’s what I did).

Dress Appropriately

We’d suggest you go one step up from a t-shirt, but you don’t need to go super-formal (unless you’re aiming for a super-corporate work environment, which is probably not a Summer of Tech job!)  If you are worried, err on the side of dressing up a little. It never hurts to have clean, new garments. Remember to look like yourself, but maybe yourself on your best day.

No Distractions

Get the background as neutral as possible. Sabrina prefers a plain black or white background for the photo. Make sure there is contrast to separate you from the background. Fill the frame with your face – crop the photo from just below the shoulders to no higher than just above your head.

John Clegg

Have you met our Founder, John Clegg?




Thanks Sabrina!

Here’s a shameless plug for her awesome professional photography services:

Please support our supporters! Summer of Tech is hugely grateful for all the people and businesses who help us do All The Things to deliver the programme. If you or someone you know is in the market for a professional photographer, check out Sabrina’s website: www.bohemiansimplicity.com

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