How to take the perfect LinkedIn profile picture with only your smartphone in 10 simple steps

LinkedIn marketing
August 23, 2022

You’re probably here because you need a new LinkedIn profile picture.

But you don’t want to waste your money on a stiff professional headshot. And you really don’t have to. It’ll likely make you look too uptight, anyway.

In this post, I’ll show you how to take the perfect LinkedIn profile picture with just your smartphone in 10 easy steps.

Let’s get into it.

@contently_lena How to take the perfect LinkedIn profile picture with your smartphone and design it for FREE on Canva! Professional headshots are going out of fashion because they’re too stiff. More natural selfies build more TRUST because they’re a better representation of you. I take all my LinkedIn profile photos like this and they always feel professional. #linkedinprofiletips #linkedinprofilepicture #linkedinprofilephoto #linkedinprofilepic #linkedinprofilehacks #linkedinlena ♬ Doja - Central Cee

1. Get ready like you’re jumping on a regular Zoom call

A lot of people get stuck thinking about how formal they should look or dress in their LinkedIn profile picture. My rule of thumb is to look and dress like you would when jumping on a Zoom call for work or with a client.

The goal is to minimize any discrepancy between what you look like in your LinkedIn profile picture and on a virtual call.

LinkedIn post about LinkedIn profile picture experience

Brush your hair, put on a little makeup (if that’s your style) and wear a nice top. That’s it, nothing fancy.

PRO TIP: Blot your face with toilet paper before to avoid a shiny look.

2. Find a spot with natural lighting

Natural light is the best kind of light for taking a picture of yourself.

If you don’t get much natural light in your home, go outside! Just opt for a day that isn’t extremely sunny so you avoid the squinted look.

Even if you have a ring light or a lightbox, I’d still opt for natural light for your LinkedIn profile photo.

GIF of man in sunlight

PRO TIP: Find a contrasting background you can stand or sit in front of to make removing the background of the photo easier (see step 6.)

3. Use a stand for your smartphone

If you have a stand for your smartphone, use it. Maybe there’s a shelf or cupboard (or 3-4 books) you can use to prop your phone up.

Another great option is to buy the Flipstik, which you can stick on pretty much any surface.

Flipstik in action
Flipstik in action

The last resort is holding your smartphone up with your bare hands (*gasp*) and taking a classic selfie.

Nothing wrong with this. I do this all the time. You’ll just crop the photo below your shoulders later.

4. Take 5 different photos of yourself

If you’re brutally unphotogenic like me (friends have told me I resemble either a pigeon or slug in most photos), take multiple photos of yourself. If you need 10 takes to get 1 good picture, take 10. No judgement.

But don’t take 5 or 10 of the exact same photos. Switch them up:

  • Different poses
  • Different facial expressions
  • Glasses on or off (you never know what will look best)

If you’re not taking a selfie with your bare hands, use a 3 or 5-second timer on your smartphone. This gives you plenty of time to pose.

GIF of Mr. Bean making a funny face

PRO TIP: Think of a joke or something embarrassing that makes you laugh when you’re taking your pictures.

Pick your favourite picture and move to step 5.

5. Create a new design in Canva and upload your favourite picture

Go to Canva.com and create a new Instagram post (Square) design.

Screenshot of Instagram Post (Square) design selection in Canva

Upload your favourite picture to Canva and add it to your design. Then make it bigger and centre-align it.

GIF of how to upload LinkedIn profile picture to Canva, make it bigger and centre-align it

6. Remove the background of your picture

Use the BG Remover feature in Canva to remove the background of your picture.

GIF showing how to remove background of LinkedIn profile picture in Canva

Use the Erase Brush feature to remove any parts of the background that weren’t removed.

GIF showing how to use eraser brush in Canva to remove remaining background from your LinkedIn profile photo

This is why taking a picture in front of a contrasting background can help. It reduces the chances of not having all the background removed from your picture.

7. Add a shadow to your photo

This is a small trick I use to make my LinkedIn profile picture look more professional.

Click on the picture of you, select Edit image and search for the Shadows effect. I like to use the Drop shadow effect.

How to add drop shadow to your LinkedIn profile photo in Canva

Adds a little something to it, doesn’t it?

8. Add a colour background to your picture

Click on your design canvas and pick a nice background colour. I recommend using one of your brand colours for consistency.

GIF of how to add colour background to your LinkedIn profile photo in Canva

PRO TIP: Match the background colour of your LinkedIn profile photo to your LinkedIn banner.

9. Download your Canva design as a PNG image

Once you’re happy with the design of your new LinkedIn profile picture, download your Canva design as a PNG image.

Go to Share and select Download.

Screenshot of how to download LinkedIn profile photo as PNG image from Canva

PRO TIP: Rename the image file using the top keyword you want to show up for in LinkedIn search results (e.g. Product manager, LinkedIn consultant.)

10. Upload your new profile picture to LinkedIn

You’re finally ready to start rocking your new LinkedIn profile photo!

Upload your new picture to your LinkedIn profile and get networking.

Here’s my final LinkedIn look:

Screenshot of my LinkedIn profile with my new LinkedIn profile photo

That’s it. 10 easy steps to creating an awesome LinkedIn profile picture, 100% for free.

Follow them and I guarantee you’ll get more views on your LinkedIn profile, more connection requests and you’ll build a brand way faster.

Share this now with a friend or coworker whose LinkedIn profile photo needs some help.

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