Really, what’s the big deal about what photo goes on the cover of your adoption profile book, “birthmother” introduction letter or home page of your adoption profile website?  Well, for starters, it’s your first (and maybe only) impression and visual introduction to yourself. So, it’s pretty important to make a good impression, right?  The photo isn’t as much about what you look like as it is to select a photo that positively and truly reflects who you are. Here are some more specific tips…

Be natural

Don’t feel like you have to rush out and get a Glamour Shot or hire a professional photographer. Yes, the photo should be of good quality, but more importantly it should be one of you acting natural. If you’re a single adoptive parent, get one of you relaxing at home, sitting outside, hugging your pet or engaged with a favorite hobby (for example, sitting at the piano). If you’re a couple, make sure you look like you actually like one another:  sit close with perhaps your arm around one person or one person stands behind the other with a hand on a shoulder or engage in an activity together (for example, you’re both on your bikes).

Keep it casual

You want your photo to look inviting and approachable. Remember that you’re trying to show your softer side of being a parent, so please avoid business attire and business photos as they may make you look stuffy and intimidating.

Use high quality

With all of the possible settings on cameras and phones these days, be sure to use the highest setting possible to ensure the highest quality photo for printed materials. A photo with a website setting (72 dpi) will look pixelated and grainy when printed out. For an adoption profile or letter, the photo should not be less than 150 dpi without looking like poor quality; 300 dpi is the ideal quality for printing.  And remember that if you need a large photo for the cover of a profile book, you need to allow for either enlarging the photo which will reduce the quality or shoot the photo at a higher size/quality to guarantee it’s quality.

Having said all of that, you do want a photo to be no higher than 72 dpi for a website. Any higher resolution will simply slow down the loading time.

Consider your background/environment

Even though you are the subject of the photo, consider where you take the photo to ensure the background doesn’t compete with you. You don’t want it to distract or be unflattering to you. Keep it a simple background that could potentially reflect your life such as your backyard, a nearby park, relaxing in your living room or engaging in a favorite activity.

Use common sense

Because this is your introductory photo and may be the only chance of being seen, put a little extra effort into ensuring the photo is a good representation. Don’t use photos that:

  • are too dark or too light – if you have a good photo but it’s too dark or too light, see if you can get that corrected with some photo software or have it professionally corrected
  • have red eyes – this can usually be corrected with some photo software
  • are in the shadow or have shadows going across your face – there’s little that can be done to correct this, so just try moving out of the shadows for a good shot
  • have too much light and wash out your face – most likely if the photo is that bright, you’re probably squinting anyway, so move on to your next photo choice
  • are blurry – there is simply nothing that can be done if a photo is blurry – try using a camera stand next time
  • have sunglasses on or where your eyeglasses are darkened – you simply want to be able to see your eyes
  • show more background than you – zoom in so you can get a good look at yourself – after all, you are the focus of the photo, not the Grand Canyon or cruise ship behind you
  • having distracting clothing or accessories – this is not the time to use your old western photo taken at the state fair or the one with your Indy race car t-shirt or your feather boa
  • are from your high school prom – keep it a current photo.

After digging through your photo boxes or online files and you don’t see a photo that will work, then simply ask a friend or neighbor to take a nice shot of you. This is a good investment of some time and effort.

Oh, and smile!  You’re about to get a child!

To see some examples of good adoption profile cover photos, visit where you’ll see a variety of people and poses that make a positive first impression. 

One Response to What’s a good adoption profile photo?

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