David Sdika

Should you use a black and white LinkedIn profile picture ?

Black and white photography has a special resonance in our collective imagination. As a reminder of a bygone era or a symbol of artistic expression, it evokes specific emotions in the eye of the viewer. With its elegance, sobriety, depth and authenticity, black and white photography spontaneously stands out from the qualities of colour photography. But does this mean it can be used for more than just old family albums or graphic exhibitions? What about its use in the job market? Is it a good idea to choose a black and white LinkedIn profile picture ?

LinkedIn profile of a man with a black and white picture

Is opting for black and white on LinkedIn a good idea ?

According to photography professionals and LinkedIn network observers alike, both black and white and colour are appropriate when it comes to profile photos. From a technical and communication point of view, both options are effective. In terms of reception, there is no clear preference among LinkedIn users. So the question is answered: black and white applied to the LinkedIn portrait may be a wise choice.

But is black and white right for you ? By choosing a black and white LinkedIn profile picture, you’re already sending out a message. It’s up to you to define the content of your message according to your context and your target audience. The black and white professional photo is a winning option, as long as it is chosen for the right reasons.

Comparaison of two LinkedIn headshots, one is in color, the other in black and white.

Is black and white right for you?

The answer to this question, as with any marketing campaign, requires a strategic, multi-factorial analysis. What are your objectives ? What is your target market ? What is your environment ? What job do you do ?

Let your target audience be your guide

Obviously, your main objective is to reach and convince your target audience. Whether it’s a potential employer, customer or investor, by exploring their expectations and consumer behaviour, you’ll be able to make the best choice between colour and black and white. Study your audience’s codes and identify the representations and connotations they associate with black and white. One of the essential criteria for identifying your visitors’ references is to look at their business sector.

Business sectors and monochrome: a matter of affinity

Professional monochrome photography certainly has its favourite circles. All you have to do is spend a few minutes browsing through LinkedIn’s huge gallery of faces to spot the trends.

In traditional professional sectors, generally associated with a high financial value and a capitalist orientation, black and white works perfectly. It’s a style dictated by prestige, intellectual legitimacy and elegance as a symbol of success. This is particularly true of companies active in finance, law or strategic management.

On a completely different level, the creative and alternative worlds are huge fans of black and white photography. As soon as you let go of colour, you immediately enter a new dimension of the image. Here, black and white is a message in itself, already selling a talent and translating an artistic vision, an aesthetic of the face.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the greyscale enthusiasts are the human professions. In the health and social sectors, black and white loses its appeal and evokes coldness, distance and superiority. Those who work hard in the service of people have no hesitation in opting for the warmth and life that colours convey.

Black and white has a traditional, anchored, stable character. For this reason, it does not lend itself well to modern business sectors such as communication, marketing or technology. In these job categories, the emphasis is on punch, originality and colour differentiation for striking LinkedIn profile pictures.

Black and white LinkedIn profile picture of a black man wearing glasses and a dark suit.

The benefits of black and white

The black and white LinkedIn photo has its own strengths, both from an artistic point of view and in terms of professional performance. Its undeniable aesthetic qualities propel it into a dimension that combines chic, seriousness and inspiration, truly resonating in the eye of the viewer. It allows a magnificent use of light, giving the portrait an intensity and power of attraction.

Black and white is also an opportunity to simplify the codes of reception. There are fewer elements to distract the viewer. They focus on your eyes, your smile and your expression. It’s a winning bet if you want people to remember you.

The black and white professional photo is timeless. Less connotative, it prevents you from offending with bold or very personal colour choices. It’s a symbol of elegance, character, uniqueness and authenticity, qualities that will set you apart in the eyes of your target audience. It can also be a way of differentiating yourself, since the vast majority of LinkedIn profile photos are in colour.

How to create a successful black and white LinkedIn photo ?

In a monochrome environment, contrasts are key. Pay close attention to the choice of background and the shade of clothing selected. The aim is always to make your face stand out, to highlight your LinkedIn portrait. Try out different combinations and contrasts depending on your skin tone and hair colour.

An effective black and white LinkedIn photo is not simply a matter of making the colours of an existing portrait disappear. If you don’t master black and white, you could end up with an old-fashioned, lifeless effect. Experiment with the ‘brightness’ and ‘contrast’ functions to get the best result. The ideal option, however, for achieving a professional and effective result, is to opt for a picture designed specifically for black and white. This is the prerogative of the professional photographer, whose expert vision gives the monochrome photo its full dimension and depth.

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Picture of Who am I?
Who am I?

I am a professional photographer based in Brussels, specialising in portrait photography, child and family photo shoots, editorial portraits or corporate headshots. I work with film and digital.

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