Richard Richards Photography | Commercial Photographer - Derby

12 Top Tips to Shoot Professional Profile Photos

Would you like to update your Linked In profile photo? Here is my step by step illustrated guide to creating professional profile photos, using only your smartphone. Please note the pictures in this post where taken during the Lockdown 2020 and are for illustrative purposes only!

Tip #1 Location 

Indoor shoot 

• Natural light, the bigger the window the better. 

• Space to move around, the bigger the room the better. 

• Background for your picture - tidy and non distracting, either a plain wall or your working environment which will help tell your story. 

Outdoor shoot 

• Open space 

• Simple backgrounds such as foliage and trees, or a plain concrete wall.

Tip #2 Light

Indoor shoot- Natural light gives far better results than your house lighting, try turning the house lights off. It is best to face the window, rather than side on and you want to avoid the sun hitting your face as this will be too harsh and it could also affect your facial expression. .Outdoor - Overcast, flat light light is better than full sunshine. If the sun is out then try to move to the shade of a building or trees.

Tip #3 Equipment 

 • Smart phone . 

• Helpful extras but not essential are tripod or gorilla pod, selfie stick and a reflector or white card to reflect light into your eyes. 


Tip #4 Clothing 

You have to decide what is appropriate for you, this may be determined by the type of work you do. For example a chef would look great in his chefs ‘whites’. Personally, as a photographer, I would go smart casual. Once you have decided, you could also try 2 or 3 options; experimenting with light and dark colours. Be careful choosing anything with patterns as this may be distracting. 

Tip #5
 Set up 

 Ideally, you want a tripod but if you haven’t got one you can get away with holding your smartphone yourself or ask someone else to take it for you.
Don’t stand too close to the window but ensure you have at least half a metre from your background. 

Tip #6
 Camera settings 

Experiment taking pictures on the different settings your smartphone offers. But be careful not to add too much filtering, think natural and professional.
Quality - make sure you look at the quality settings and choose the highest setting, this way you can crop in and re-frame your portrait without it looking pixelated. 

Tip #7 Body Posture 

Whether you are standing or sitting make sure you have good body posture, so ensure your back is straight and shoulders are back. 

Tip #8

For a Linked In profile always keep your face straight on to the camera. Also try turning your body away from the camera, whilst keeping your head facing forward. This can be more flattering for females. 

Tip #9 Facial Expression 
Practice a range of different facial expressions and decide which ones you feel comfortable with and ultimately communicate the right impression. 

Tip #10 Composing your picture 
Hold the phone at eye level, not below or above you.
Compose your picture so you have space above and below your face. Do not fill the frame with your face as this will cause distortion and will be unflattering. It is better to have the space and then crop in later. 

Tip #11 At the moment of taking the picture, check 

Body posture and pose 
Facial expression 
Framing - space above and below and hold camera at eye level 
Hold the smartphone very still and press the button gently. 
Review the picture and continue to shoot, whilst adjusting your facial expression and body posture to gain variety and options to choose from.

Tip #12 Post Production 

Review your pictures, send them to a friend who can offer their opinion. 

Choose the picture to upload. 
Adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness (if required). 

Next task, do you need to review your contact info and or work experience? 
Thank you for reading this article, I hope you have found it useful. I would love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, then please contact me. 
Please share this article with anyone you feel could benefit from it.

Why not take a look at my portrait gallery 

Richard Richards Photography    

Buxton and Leek College

Here is a recent shoot I did for Buxton and Leek College,
the focus was on capturing some new images of students
undertaking their studies. I also had to capture full length portraits that could be used as case studies
in their next prospectus. 

I have worked with young people for twenty years now, so I can gauge how they might react to the camera. The young lady in the triptych above was quite shy at first, so I’m really pleased with the results.  I like the limited colour palette and also
the movement. I think the sequence would work well as an advert.

The double portrait was a great find, I had just finished capturing their peers recreating a dance sequence and I turned around to find them positioned like that.  The portrait has a very natural feel to it, at the same time as looking fresh and modern. It would work really well in an editorial discussing student well being. 

On photo shoots I like to mix it up, the two shots are of the same group of students but each one has its own mood and atmosphere. I like shooting both
staged images where the subjects are aware of the camera, as well as candid, natural images
which really help to tell a story.


The portraits below were all taken for case studies, I really enjoy photographing people and I love the challenge of creating something interesting just with three elements, the person, a prop and the background.

I really value feedback from my clients, I wish to build a long lasting professional relationship with all of my clients. I personally wish to continue to develop my photography and creativity and receiving positive feedback is the icing on the cake to any job.

Here is what the client had to say about the project.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Richard for future photography work - his attention to detail and the quality of his photos are excellent. Richard is really easy to work with (on a commercial shoot with tight deadlines, several locations and lots of different people), extremely professional and takes the time to understand the job and requirements fully. Really happy with the end result!”

Lucy Thorpe, Marketing Officer, Buxton and Leek College.

Here are more examples showing the variety of images captured on the shoot.

Hope you enjoyed this blog post, the education industry is one of my specialisms. If you would like to see more of my educational portfolio please look at this gallery. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any feedback you may have and or if you wish to discuss a project.
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Derby Fashion Show 2018

I love shooting live events, it’s the unknown that seems to keep me on my toes
and feeds my pulse.

I have photographed fashion catwalks for 20 years now and originally my brief was
to capture the traditional straight on runway shot. These days it is more about
telling a story and capturing images that can be used both in print and on the
web. I have to consider these multiple uses and leave space for type, pull out
quotes and allow for the various formats of social media.

I see fashion design as always seeking to break the boundaries of what we think
is current and I attempt to reflect this approach in my photography. I like to
experiment and push my photography further, rather than recreating the same
image year after year. I am also experimenting with short films and clips, this is an area I wish to continue to develop.

I seek to capture a mood and atmosphere, for me it is the whole experience of the
show rather than just the items the models are wearing.

For this shoot I decided to use my mirrorless Fuji kit as it is lightweight and
fast to use. You get less light than DSLR’s, but I like the electronic
viewfinders as they are great for giving you a clear idea of what you are

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, if you like my fashion photography then please take a look at my Catwalk gallery

I would love hear what you think of my photography so please feel free to contact me

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Using coloured gels

The Bloomberg Suite is a ‘state of the art’ computer suite for Economics students. Photographing people looking at computers is always a challenging prospect. However the Bloomberg software with its colourful graphs and statistics made a refreshing change from trying to make an excel document look sexy.

Part of my brief was to capture students using the Bloomberg data, I used off camera flash with colour gels on the models faces to suggest the glow from the monitor. I really enjoyed the challenge of capturing an exciting image from quite a mundane activity. The three pictures above are all very different and each have a different mood and atmosphere to them.

I always try out different lighting techniques as they give the image a different mood and atmosphere and thus help communicate or imply a certain feeling or narrative. The two pictures above show the same person, sitting in the same position, however they are very different due to the lighting set up. The picture on the left is lit by a combination of flash and the room lights. The picture on the right has a very different feel to it. The gelled lights on the subjects face become more prominent and the room takes on a different atmosphere lit solely by the monitors.

Top 5 photography tips for creating great case studies

You remember the phrase ‘a picture is worth a 1000 words, question is, are you making the most of it? Pictures not only attract the viewer’s attention to your content but they can hold it by telling a story and enticing them to want to know more! When planning a case study or testimonial ask yourself these questions. Why have we chosen this case study to promote our brand, what do we want to say and how are we going to communicate this visually? Remember its not just a head shot, you are trying to create a story within a picture which can truly speak a 1000 words!

1. Location and Background 

Mel Morris - Investor & Philanthropist 

The portraits of Mel were actually taken for an article about his career, rather than a case study but these tips are still relevant for your case study photos. When I first met Mel I was amazed how friendly and down to earth he was. He immediately asked if we would like a tour of the Derby County training facilities. This was an excellent chance to hunt out some interesting backgrounds, look for scenarios for Mel to be in and most importantly to strike up a rapport. What attracted me most were the big Ram icons on the walls, this would make an interesting graphic and would also be recognisable to a certain audience. I always try and include some kind of company branding or logo in one of the shots, I can sometimes look staged but it does help tell the story. The first shot was taken in a training room. I loved the large Rams logo on the wall, how it looked so crisp and stood out. I decided to keep the composition simple, almost reducing it to monochrome. Using a hard light off to the side created excellent light on Mel’s face and also created an amazing shadow. It is always worth adding light to any interior unless there is plenty of daylight. Light can add atmosphere, mood and drama, just like on a theatre stage. The second picture was captured in the players changing room, again I was very lucky to find the massive slogan ‘The Derby Way’. This shot was a no brainer as the words looked graphically striking and also they represented what Mel Morris was all about. I could have positioned Mel in the foreground, perhaps framing a head and shoulders and then including the words to the side. Instead I asked Mel to sit on the bench. This then created a synergy between the sitter, the ram and the slogan. The image was used as an A4 full bleed and also acted as the title.

2. Quality of Light 

In his quote, Law graduate Mark Popple talked about being prepared for the world of work. I booked out his universities law court, hoping this would provide an obvious backdrop. Mark arrived in a suit, this was a great starting point as it created the right image. Seeing Mark’s smart haircut, interesting glasses and watch reminded me of a GQ fashion article, so I decided to use this as inspiration and treat it more as a fashion/ celebrity shoot. The final pose with arms folded, head turned to the light but eyes back at camera all help to convey his confidence in his future. The icing on the cake is the silver background, for me the backdrop can be as important as the subject/model. The brushed steel is a great material to reflect light off and it suggests a modern ‘city’ feel. The coat of arms helps to tell the story, as it is a recognisable symbol to the targeted audience.

3. Keep it simple 

There are three things that make this shot work, the panoramic view, the bright red coat (red is always a winner in pictures) and the natural smile. Sharman Aldridge had undertaken a MBA and was a Manager for NHS. She worked in an ordinary office, with not much natural light. However as I walked to her office I noticed a door leading out on to a rooftop. After some gentle persuasion Sharman popped her bright red coat on and braved the winter climate. This is where as a photographer you have to work quickly, as you don’t want to upset your sitter. So I kept the shot simple, I used the external wall as a prop, this relaxed Sharman as she had something to do with her hands. I then used a shallow depth of field to blur out the distracting aspects of the rooftop and hide the gloominess of the season. 

4. Telling a story 

Rosie Maguire is a successful award winning culinary arts student.
I spoke to Rosie a couple of weeks prior to the shoot, to find out more about what might be possible. In the end she offered to cook a dish in a working kitchen. This was an ideal opportunity to capture some authentic action shots at the same time as allowing Rosie time to get used to the camera. By the end of the photo shoot Rosie was relaxed and brave enough to pose directly to the camera, expressing a real confidence and pride creating an image that perfectly illustration her achievements.

5. Being open to opportunities at the photo shoot 

Chris Jones runs a professional kitchen for an award-winning restaurant at the same time as teaching under graduate culinary arts and hospitality students, so his time is very tight! I new I wanted to avoid the cliche of chef holding a knife or frying pan but we had arranged to meet in the kitchen. When I turned up the kitchen was jammed packed with chefs, as it was the middle of the day. There was no chance we could do the portrait in there, it was just too busy. So this is where you have to have a back up plan. Chefs spend all their time in the kitchen but the building is also important to their restaurant, it is all part of the dining experience and brand. In the end I took Chris out of his familiar environment and used the exterior of the beautiful grade II listed Devonshire Dome to add another layer to the story. Chris is lit by an off camera flash and probably 20-30 feet away from the building these both help to separate Chris from the background and emphasise his chefs ‘whites’.

In summary 

Do your homework, ask your case study about what might be possible and how much time they can spare. Choose a good location that is relevant and will help tell the story (is there any company branding worth featuring). Look for natural light if not make sure you use off camera flashlight to make your case study stand out. Consider props such as tools of the job, uniforms, these help distract the sitter as well as reinforcing your story. Keep your sitter happy and relaxed by communicating your intentions and involve them in achieving the best results. Lastly be ready for unforeseen circumstances and go with it! I hope you have found this post useful and haven’t found too many grammatical errors (I’m better with pictures than words)
Please share any feedback you may have or suggestions you would like to see regarding new posts.

You can find more examples of my portrait and case studies here

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