Skip to main content

Smiles for All Seasons

Last week, I had professional photos taken. This was after several situations came up in the past few months where I was asked to provide a professional, high resolution photo of myself to go with my bio. I found that I had plenty of selfies, goofy, and off guard pictures, but none that represented me professionally. After reaching out to my young, retired photographer friend and writing buddy I had a photo shoot. It was much less painful than expected and she sent me sixteen decent photos among three backgrounds to choose from. I narrowed the poses down to the top six choices from myself and family, but still wasn't sure which picture would encapsulate my personality and professionalism at the same time. So, I took my photos to Facebook to poll friends, family, and followers.

Top four photos chosen in Facebook poll. Photography Credit: Bethany Neal.
I labeled each of the six poses A through F and asked people to choose one of the options. What happened next was completely unexpected. Instead of receiving feedback from 20 to 30 people, as I had anticipated---I received hundreds of responses within hours!

Over 400 people interacted with the photos, including 270 that picked a favorite pose. Photo C came in with the most "votes" at 65, followed by Photo A (my personal favorite) with 60 votes. My only successful pose without a full smile, Photo D,  came in with 49 votes and Photo E, an outdoor shot, received 43 votes.  The other two photos (not shown in the infographic above) received 28 and 25 votes each. What was equally as helpful as the numbers, were the detailed explanations of why people made their choice. During this process I learned a few things that might be helpful for your next photo shoot.

1. You can have more than one professional photo

I was focused on finding the perfect one photo. A few commenters mentioned how I could use more than one photo, depending on the intended usage. Immediately I felt relieved. I have decided to use the top four choices in different ways. For instance, the top photo choice fits the description of what LinkedIn researchers say make the best LinkedIn profile photo. I have already changed my LinkedIn photo. Meanwhile, I plan to use the pose with the beautiful fall leaves in the background to go along with my poetry and writing bio.

2. Know your audience and platform

The poll received responses from a wide variety of people who all know me from different facets of my life. I have been researching the best practices for professional photos for the past month and there doesn't seem to be one standard anymore. Many photographers prefer a closed-mouth smile to convey seriousness and approachability at the same time. This is different from the plain background with an open smile and slightly squinted eyes, which are popular on LinkedIn.

3. The same smile can convey different messages 

With very subtle changes, the entire dialogue changed. Authenticity, approachability, confidence and professionalism can all be skewed with background, a slight tilt of the head, or hand placement.

This whole process has been eye-opening, fun, and educational. I'm grateful to those who participated in this poll and hope you all find this experiment helpful.


Please comment or Tweet Me at @lesgo4it


Popular posts from this blog

Media Release: Mom Genius Helps College Bound Students

Press Release _________________________________________________________________________
“Genius” Mom Launches New Campaign To Help College-Bound Students To ‘Up Your Game’ With Your Writing
ANN ARBOR, MI / (May 11, 2017)Essay Coaching is announcing the launch of Up Your Game With Your Writing – a tutoring, mentoring, and education campaign designed to help both students and parents reduce the family stress involved with the college admissions essay process.
Because teenagers and young parents are so busy, the campaign includes numerous quick and free elements, including a new information and resource hub at, FREE original college essay quizzes as seen on WXYZ-TV, college essay readiness training for students and parents, private coaching packages, a new Twitter channel with weekly writing tips at @debmerion and new book due out in 2018.
The first workshop is May 16, 2017, from 7-8:30 pm. in Saline. Students and/or parents will receive handouts, samples of winning …

Inspiration for Entrepreneurs via the Olympics

With the help of Social Media, we are all surrounded by discussion about the Olympics! The only people talking online about the Olympics more than the United States are Great Britain and Australia. The media has been struggling to keep up with all the news, controversy, and highlights. 

Recently, one of my clients pointed out to me that there are a lot more competitions in the Olympics than he was privy to via his local television networks or newspaper. Out of curiosity, I looked it up and found that there were some 36 competitions with everything from Beach Volleyball to Shooting.

It would be nice if there was more time and attention afforded to some of the other sports represented at . There are some really talented and dedicated folks competing. It is inconceivable how much they all sacrifice to participate. It is inspirational to me even before execution or finding out who wins...just the mere concept of giving up everything within your comfort zone to step out on faith and do somet…

3 Sweaty Lessons for the Entrepreneur

When the remake of the movie, Sparkle, arrived to theaters, I had to watch the 1976 version just one more time. This has been a favorite since I first watched it as a teen almost 20 years after it was released. Every time I watch the movie something different stands out. This time that I watched it, I noticed how sweaty Stix, the character played by Philip Michael Thomas, was when he hugged the girls mom. It was at the point that I experienced an epiphany as to why this movie impacted me so much. Here are three sweaty business lessons that I learned from the movie:

1. Sweating is Natural  In Sparkle, when Stix came to Sparkle's debut and hugged her mom he was sweaty. She didn't turn him away. In fact, she gave him a full embrace while in her finest threads. He had made a mistake and she knew it, but he had survived it and she was encouraged.  As a entrepreneur, I have to put in my sweat equity to get my business off the ground. There aren't always casual or ladylike ways …