Notice I didn’t ask, “Do YOU look bad?” I asked, rather, “Is your PHOTO making you look bad?” Photos can do that – and I don’t mean photos that we think look terrible. These are photos that we think look perfectly fine, but that are in fact creating the wrong impression about us.
Have you ever looked at someone’s photo on their website and thought, “Ooh boy, that woman looks totally out of date”? Or, have you seen a photo of a businesswoman that made you think that she’s not the authority she claims to be, because her crossed-arm pose looks really fake?
It’s important to be aware of how your photo will strike other people, especially when you’re posting a photo of yourself on a business networking site, a dating site, or your own website.
When people see it, will they see you as professional, friendly, knowledgeable, fun, or whatever trait you’re trying to convey?
It’s really hard to see what others see when they look at a picture of you, which is why you may have unwittingly placed photos on your social media accounts, networking accounts, or other places online that really do you a disservice. Maybe the photo you’ve posted of yourself is shooting you in the foot.
Luckily there’s a photo-feedback app – and it’s free – that lets you find out what people really think of your photo. It’s called Photofeeler, and here’s how it works:
You upload a photo of yourself for others to view and judge, and in turn you view and judge other people’s photos.
Over time, you compile votes on your photo that tell you how well you score in different categories such as competence, likability, and trustworthiness. On top of that, you’ll gather individual observations and comments that people write about your image.
You can open a paid account on Photofeeler.com if you’d like to get feedback faster, but I did the free version because I didn’t have any urgency. I also found the process of participation required by the free account to be informative. So, I’ll explain how that works.
Then upload a photo of yourself and check the box that indicates how you intend to use the photo – for business or social purposes, or for a dating site. Then start viewing, voting, and commenting on other people’s photos to earn “karma.”
You can select the kinds of photos you want to view: business, social, or dating photos. Based on the type of photo, you vote on different qualities: confident, authentic, and fun, for social photos, for example, or competent, likable, and influential – for business.
The more karma you collect by voting, the more often your photo is included in the rotation for others to view and vote. Simple and easy.
The objective of Photofeeler is to provide a respectful, moderated environment in which other people give objective feedback on your photo.
The system uses algorithms to target voters by gender and age and uses AI (artificial intelligence) developed by Carnegie Mellon University Ph.D. mathematicians to compile the data accurately.
An extra human touch is added through a “notes” section where voters can give you feedback in their own words if they like.
Comments can be anything, such as a suggestion that the lighting in the photo is too dark, or an observation that the person is positioned in the picture in such a way that the mountain behind him appears to be sprouting out of the top of his head.
You’d think that you might be opening yourself to snarky comments and dismissive judgments – what’s known in the social media world as trolling – and I confess that as an older woman, I worried a little that I’d get “boo” votes and negative comments based on my age.
But that didn’t happen. I got what I felt were honest votes made by kind and respectful people, and the comments I received included as many nice sentiments as suggestions for improvement.
When you post your photo, you can choose who will see it, and when, and for how long, so you can self-select your voters right off the bat, which adds a level of assurance that the votes you’re gathering will be meaningful to you, not random.
It seems that Photofeeler does a good job of sorting for appropriate voters anyway. For example, had I put up a photo and said it was for a dating site, I’m pretty sure that Photofeeler would not show it to 25-year-old men.
And the system most likely discards comments that contain certain words like “ugly” or “fat” or whatever. And, I think, the people who participate in the site simply are on their best behavior.
They’re there to get help and to give it. When you’re driving on a two-way street, you do tend to stay on your side of the lane.
So, what was my takeaway for the photo I posted? I said it was for business, and I scored good numbers in the competence and authoritative categories, but my highest score was in the likability category.
I should really be going for higher votes in the authoritative category, but I don’t care. I like that I appear to be likable.
Perhaps this is why I’ve made friends with so many of my web design and ghostwriting clients and spend so much time on my Women at Woodstock retreats, which are not, technically, my “day job.” I guess the human interaction really is just as valuable to me as the dollars in the bank. More important actually.
So, there you have it. Photofeeler told me something I knew already about myself, but just hadn’t yet admitted. That’s not the insight I was looking for, but it’s more useful to me than advice on my hairstyle. Or whatever.
When was the last time you posted a photo of yourself for business, social, or dating purposes? Have you ever had people comment that they like a photo of you that you yourself don’t particularly like, and you can’t figure out why it appeals to others? Would you try services like Photofeeler for future reference? Please share your thoughts with our community!