One picture is worth…

…a thousend words saying.

The first impression of a person is very hard to change. Even if we know we caught the person on the wrong foot we hardly change our mind. Biologically this comes from the fact that our species learned to avoid being exploited or cheated by interpreting the signals other people are sending. In terms of a photo for a job application this means the impression of being able to work in a team or at least willing to work.

The fear that we are assessed by our photo first and second by our skills is real. That’s why a photo on an application from is already forbidden or at least a no go in some countries, e.g. USA. Even more, because a decision whether you get employed or booked based on a picture is discriminating.

However, the perfect application or profile photo on our website or business card is still the entrance to a new job, new costumers and so on. The person shown has to look attractive, smart and confident, but also likeable and relaxed. All these qualities manipulate the first impression one has seeing this picture. That’s why we try to get everything out of one photo that is possible and Photoshop does the rest.

If the photographer takes enough time for your application photo (s)he will work on the image you want to embody in your photo. (S)he will set different sceneries, try different outfits and most of all ask you about yourself and try to bring out your personality. But what if there is not enough time to do all this? People are often rushing into a photographer’s studio asking for a handsome, professional photo with a relaxed smile on the face within 10 minutes. In most cases you will get a photo hitting most points of the checklist for application pictures but it will have hardly anything to do with yourself.

portraits Hava
Hava wants to appear respectable. Laughing is no choice, cause she finds her tooth hideous.

If the photographer has a whole series of the person it is always a pity throwing away all the lovely pictures taken when the person lost control for a second. These facets of the personality are way more likeable but maybe not perfectly attractive. This does not mean that we aren’t beautiful but maybe not every single hair is sitting perfect, our eyes are a little smaller because we are laughing or we are showing the slightly rotated eyetooth.

But the question is if we are applying to a model contest or a job where all our great skills are asked for except looking awesome?

Many personnel managers would probably secretly wish to see those less superficial photos to get an idea who is showing up at their office next round. Honestly even if the picture is perfect (attractive, professional, confident, etc.) we have to convey this predicted confidence the moment we open the door of the personnel office to get the job. It is a reflection on somebody’s character if the first impression of a person from the application does not meet reality. And this kind of fraud is something human beings can detect way faster than saying hello cause in an evolutionary context this has always been very important.

portraits ImamAli
Imam Ali can’t stop laughing. But he doesn’t want to be photographed like this – he finds his eyes too small

So maybe an honest middle course portrait would be worth trying the next time we are searching a new job or presenting us on our websites or business cards. I am wondering if companies are open enough for a small series of portraits shown more than one facet of a person or even a brief application video showing the “full” picture of a person.

3 thoughts on “One picture is worth…

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