Make application pictures yourself as from the professional

For trainees, working students or interns, application photos by the photographer are usually very expensive. Do you belong to one of these professional groups? Then we have helpful tips and tricks ready with which you can create a convincing application picture yourself.

From the camera settings to the basics of body language, you will find everything you need for this guide perfect Recording needed. In addition, we will then show you step-by-step what you have to pay attention to when taking pictures and printing out the photo, and give you a checklist that will not go wrong!

Of course, you can also use these pictures for your professional appearance on career portals such as Xing and LinkedIn.

First of all, however, we first clarify the most important questions about the job application with the help of various experts.

Do I need an application picture at all or can I do it without it??

In times of e-mail applications and interviews via Skype, the question arises whether an application image is still up to date. In many countries, application photos are already prohibited due to anti-discrimination laws. Our experts say:

"The portrait picture on the cover page or on the first page of the curriculum vitae still plays an important role, at least in Germany. Recruiters are used to being able to get a "picture" of the applicant. If it is missing, it is noticeable and may still raise the question in many minds why an applicant does not take the photo. In order to avoid discrimination, some employers switch to explicitly not wanting a picture. Applicants should refrain from doing this, in all other cases, in my experience, they should still be sent along today."

"An application image is still very important, but especially in areas where applicants have a lot of customer contact and in sectors where visibility is relevant."

Both experts therefore recommend not to do without a photo on the application, unless it is explicitly requested.

Authenticity and sympathy are not more important than professional design?

The professional application writer Till Tauber recommends that around 30% of his customers take a new application photo. Often this is because the pictures are poorly lit or the graphic quality is not right. He also describes that in very few cases it would be advisable to take the application picture yourself: "Not everything is thought of when applying photos on your own, even if the photos are subjectively perceived as good. I often receive pictures that I have created myself, which I immediately identify as such, which is not really positive for the companies. It is easy to get the impression that you wanted to save money and effort."

Tauber also told us that e.g. Hobby photographers sometimes take even more professional and convincing application pictures than the professionals.

The career advisor Dr. Bernd Slaghuis believes that a good photo is part of a professional application. This also applies to interns or trainees. He adds that it does not have to be a professional photo shoot for a star photographer including a makeup artist, but that there are good application photos for a small fee.

With regard to sympathy, Dr. Slaghuis: "You convey personality with the application photo, so it should be authentic, but also professional at the same time. Wear what you would wear for the interview. There is no right or wrong. Decide how your potential new employer can get a good picture of you and how you will recognize each other as soon as you meet live for the interview."

Body language expert Jochen Baier believes that we have long underestimated the importance of being personable. He explains: “If you assume that the human resource will look over the application folder the first time and look at the picture for the same period of time, more than half of the first lasting impression will result from the photo. The importance of sympathy for the photographed can be seen, among other things. see that many hiring managers illegally ignore applications without a picture. "

A good tip for completing the application writer Till Tauber: "It is always worth visiting the website in advance and looking at the social media sites. If everyone is out and about with completely self-made pictures, there is nothing wrong with that – provided the quality is right. "

In summary, this means that sympathy and authenticity are very important in any case. However, according to experts, they do not replace a high-quality photo. In our opinion, you can definitely make your own application picture, it just mustn’t look unprofessional. So selfies are taboo. You can read about how to do it best in our tips.

The application photo must be current?

Having a professional photo taken by the photographer is a bit of a hassle and can also cost money. Therefore, the question arises whether you can still use an older application image.

The application coach Till Tauber recommends investing in a good portrait every two to three years. He adds that after a total change, for example with a new hairstyle, a new picture should also be created.

If you have not changed at all and you would be easily recognized during the interview, you can still use a picture over a longer period of time. With a new hairstyle or if you now wear glasses, you should take a new picture.

Before taking pictures

An important property of pictures is that we process them very subconsciously. Even without paying direct attention to an image, our brain absorbs certain properties, such as the color of the image. Basically, we look at pictures rather than texts.

So it is only understandable that you want to show your best side on an application picture, since this is ultimately evaluated by a HR specialist. Proper preparation is required to create the perfect application picture yourself:

It depends on the external values

Choose the right outfit for the application image

With clothes you can underline your personality. The choice of outfit has a decisive influence on how you are perceived in a picture.

It is important that you ask yourself what you want to convey and what the employer expects of you. Style coach Stefanie Diller recommends: "If the homepage of the company you are applying for does not provide sufficient information about the dress code there, take a look around after work to see what the employees are wearing when they leave the building."

No matter which clothing you choose on the application picture, this should correspond in style to what you want to wear for the interview or in everyday work.

It depends on the right color

Style coach Stefanie Diller told us that a white blouse was for Women and a white shirt for men always goes. She further explains that one should use a classic part with a collar for the umpteen versions of blouses that are available. The same applies to the shirt. Transparency should be skillfully combined with a matching top underneath.

With a white blouse and a white shirt you are always well dressed.

"Black is serious and correct, but also very hard. In Germany it stands for law, grief and funeral. The creative industry is an exception, where it is certainly cool to appear in black wheelchair like Steve Jobs (Apple). Blue is always better, dark blue ideal."

The white dots also loosen up the dark blue shirt.

Ms. Diller adds that colored clothing is generally not a no-go. One should only consider the effect of colors. Red, for example, looks very dynamic, a pink blouse gives a rather lovely and feminine impression. Small patterns can often look cute and large ones can distract from the face.

Think about what impression you want to give and which values ​​are in demand.
Test how your clothes look in a picture and how your face is emphasized differently. You already know what colors flatter you.

Don’t show too much detail

Women in particular should pay attention to your neckline. Stefanie Diller explains: "How much you can show depends on your figure and your type. For a small woman with a sporty figure, a neckline may work better than for a curvy woman with a large bust. 4 to 6 cm from the larynx usually go. Tests how much you see depending on the camera position. The fold between the breasts should not be visible."

A tie is unnecessary

She adds that a tie is an exaggerated accessory for young professionals. Here too, however, it depends on the industry and position. Flies are very individual and are available to some types who wear a well thought-out style overall.

The right hairstyle for the application picture

Tips for women:

Lutz Kranepuhl from Vital Kosmetikakademie GmbH gave us tips for the in an interview ideal hairstyle: "The hairstyle depends on the type of wearer. Long hair should be straightened or blow-dried. Depending on the professional group, a classic updo is also suitable."

In principle, you should test how different hairstyles look on a picture. That can differ enormously from the impression in the mirror.

"A trend haircut is also possible for short hair if it is not too extravagant in terms of shape and color, ”adds Mr. Kranepuhl.

Open hair looks looser and looks more like leisure time.

If you are not that conservative and that is okay for the position you are applying for, at least make sure that your hair color and hairstyle are not completely different from the application photo when you interview or start your job. In the photo you can cover the hair color with a black and white filter, but at the latest during the interview you will be seen live and in color.

In principle, you should not go to the hairdresser immediately before you shoot your application pictures. It usually takes a few days to feel completely comfortable with a new hairstyle.

Tips for men:

Lutz Kranepuhl recommends men with long hair to wear a braid from shoulder-length hair. With a hair length up to the chin line, an open hairstyle is acceptable.

You have a beard and don’t know what to do with it for the application photo? "In principle, a beard is not a no-go", says Kranepuhl. "If it is adapted to the shape of the face, it also looks neat on a photo. Longer, drooping beards are not recommended." Even a 3-day beard makes a rather unkempt impression.

Makeup – how much is too much?

Lutz Kranepuhl also has tips for you when it comes to make-up: in general, you should avoid fancy trend colors and extravagant looks. Make-up in the business area should look fresh and vital. Don’t set too many contrasts, conceal flaws and discreetly emphasize your advantages.

The quality of drugstore products is sufficient, so you don’t have to buy expensive professional make-up. If you are not that experienced, a friend asks if she will help you.

Make-up looks a little weaker on pictures, so make up a bit if necessary, if you notice that in your first pictures.

Less is more

"When choosing the hairstyle and make-up, you should orientate yourself to the classically subtle variants and dramatic "Smokey eyes" or black lips, pink pink glitter and doll eyelashes make up in your spare time."

– Lutz Kranepuhl,
Vital Cosmetic Academy GmbH

Make-up isn’t just for women. Men can also hide dark circles or blemishes by partially covering them, adds Mr. Kranepuhl.

A subtle make-up is also recommended for men.

Piercings and tattoos on application photos

Polarize tattoos. Depending on the industry and the personal taste of the person holding your application, more or less. Tattoos and piercings are not desirable in every industry. In many professions with customer contact (bank employees, customer advisors, restaurant specialists), body decorations are usually not very welcome, even if a change has already taken place in recent years.

You can hide your piercings if you won’t ultimately wear them to work. Ear piercings are usually easily covered by hair and other piercing holes can also be covered with small special plasters and some make-up. If your tattoos and piercings are important to you, you can also show them on an application picture. If you were only rejected for this reason, you would have really wanted to work there?

So you hide tattoos and piercings

"To cover tattoos there is camouflage, a foundation that is characterized by a very high opacity and is available in all skin tones. For piercing holes we recommend small, skin-colored plasters, which can also be covered with camouflage."

– Lutz Kranepuhl,
Vital Cosmetic Academy GmbH

Round out the accessories?

Avoid extravagant chains or earrings that can be too distracting. Wear at most subtle jewelry that rounds off your outfit. Of course you want to express or underline your personality, but here it can be counterproductive. Shawls go when they have a subtle pattern.

The glasses as an accessory

"Glasses are the most striking accessory that you can wear on an application picture.", notes style consultant Stefanie Diller. Glasses can highlight your natural assets and underline your personality. She adds that glasses can help if you want to show a stronger presence or just need more expression.

The effect with and without glasses is very different.

"The perfect make-up for a woman wearing glasses depends on whether it is nearsightedness or farsightedness, that is, whether the glasses enlarge or reduce the eye and then apply make-up / correction makeup.", explains Lutz Kranepuhl.

Contact lenses are also a good option. "The challenge with contact lenses is that when applying make-up, powder particles and eyeshadow crumbs must not get between the lens and eyeball.", warns Mr. Kranepuhl.

Try out photos with and without glasses and then decide which variant you prefer.

By the way, sunglasses are an absolute no-go, says Ms. Diller. Even if they are worn in the hair. They give the impression of leisure time and are therefore rather counterproductive.

The recommended equipment

Choosing the right background

"Always pay attention to a simple, subtle background.", advises the photographer Max Niemann. He further explains: "In my opinion, colored or too colorful / uneven backgrounds distract too much from the actual image content and should therefore be avoided".

A white wall as a background provides a good basis for post-processing. Lightens the white wall with a photo editing program to remove bumps or gray tones. If the background is purely white, the background loses some of its visual impact, but it is suitable e.g. for clinical professions. It is more modern if you show yourself in everyday business or in front of the modern glass fronts of an office building. Make sure to blur the background a bit, because after all you are in focus.

A white background is neutral and does not distract you.

Unusual backgrounds are perfectly suitable for certain job profiles.

A black background is not recommended. This looks rather dark and is difficult to stage. Color gradients or hard patterns in the background should also be avoided. Brown and turquoise are also not a good choice because they look rather old-fashioned.

Good alternatives are gray or beige. Buy poster paper in different tones for little money. So you can adjust the background to the prevailing lighting conditions and find the best one for you.

We used a roller blind and a gray pin board as the background.

Use camera or cell phone?

Quality decides here. Both digital camera and cell phone should have at least 12 megapixels and ideally have a flash function. Ultimately, however, the same applies here again: try it out and then decide. Weighs the functions of the individual devices together. Do you need a tripod? Can this be done with a cell phone? Do you photograph yourself or do you have help?

The photographer Max Niemann believes that selfies are definitely a no-go. Instead, he recommends taking or having the photo taken with a decent camera.

Both pictures were taken against the same background: taken on the left with a cell phone, on the right with an SLR camera.

Here, too, there is a clear difference in quality between the mobile phone (left) and the camera (right).

So you build a tripod

Move into the right light
– The right lighting is important

The right lighting conditions have a decisive influence on the quality of your application photos. It is important that the overall picture does not become too dark. After all, you want to be recognized. Light makes the composition more friendly.

The advantages of a softbox

Flash makes it possible to take photos independently of natural light, but at times it looks very hard and casts unfavorable shadows, says photographer Max Niemann. He adds that the flash on the camera should not be used in 99.9% of all cases.

Photographed with flash (left) makes the image look much harder than without (right).

The light area of ​​the flash is enlarged with a softbox. The larger the softbox, the softer the light becomes. A softbox can be replaced with a classic paper lamp because it reshapes the light.

It is even easier with a white, relatively thin plastic bag that is inflated and placed in front of or on the flash of the camera. This makes the light more flattering and softer.

In general, it is advisable that you make your application pictures in a closed room. You have full control over the light and enough time since the lighting conditions do not change. Outside, bright sunshine, rain, wind or the rapid darkening in the evening could cause you difficulties.

If you absolutely want to use natural light, choose a day that promises constant weather and good lighting conditions. Adjust your additional lighting and test different variants. You will quickly get a feel for what light flatters you. However, your face should not be shaded.

"I would not recommend taking photos in the backlight for application photos. An overcast sky or, even better, a shady place, into which light falls from the side, is usually the better option."

Natural light at the right angle can look very nice.

Ultimately, each of you is different and has your own style. You have to decide for yourself how to style and present yourself on your application picture. Skilfully underlines your personality and don’t allow yourself to be influenced by stubborn rules or tips. If you pretend to be wrong, it will blow up in the interview at the latest.

When taking photos yourself – whether alone or with the help – it is also important to try them out. The following is about how you can shoot the application picture. Here, too, we have put together a wide variety of opinions and tips from experts for you.

When taking pictures

Nice application photos are teamwork – or not?

Of course you can take the application photo alone. A selfie is often unprofessional, but you can take a self-timer photo. If you don’t have a tripod, you can also place the camera on another solid surface. Pay attention to the correct height.

The downside is that you have to be very fast and don’t have much time to find the right pose. You also have to constantly switch back and forth between the camera and your position to look at the result and set the self-timer again. There is also a solution for this, namely a remote release. You just hold this small button, similar to a remote control, in your hand and press it when you want to take a picture. So you can prepare yourself for the picture in peace.

It is of course more ideal to work in pairs. So you are much more flexible and get an opinion about your picture. Max Niemann, our photography expert, explained to us that four eyes always see more than two and that self-perception, especially with regard to application photos, is not always congruent with other people’s perceptions. Another advantage is that with the help of a second person, more perspectives are possible. You can vary them as you like and find out what looks best.

A little making-of of our photo shoots.

Perfect camera settings – you have to consider that

Whether you take your photo with a digital camera, an SLR camera or your smartphone is up to you. With the digital camera and smartphone, you have only limited setting options and many auto functions. This makes it easier for you to take pictures and you can take care of your poses in peace. But if you want to take a picture with a reflex camera, there are a few things you should consider.

Each SLR camera offers the setting of the ISO value. The ISO value describes the sensitivity of the camera sensor to light. An ISO value of 100-400 is recommended for images like our application images. The higher the ISO value is set, the more sensitive the sensor reacts to incidence of light. If you set the value to over 400, you may experience noise or a loss of detail in the image. That would be a shame, because it will make your self-made application pictures look less valuable.

After you have determined the ISO value, the aperture is set. A distinction is made between an open and a closed panel. The farther the aperture is open, the more blur the image gets. If the aperture is closed, you create a high depth of field. An aperture setting of 4 to 7 is recommended for application photos.

Now you have set the ISO value and the aperture. The only thing missing is the exposure time. The exposure time describes how long the aperture should be open. The longer the exposure time, the more light falls on the aperture. An exposure time of 1/60 to 1/125 is best suited for application photos.

Finally you have to adjust the focus. It is about focusing on the spot where your face will later be. If you let a second person take the photos, the focus settings can be taken over by them. It gets a little tricky alone. Every camera offers an auto focus. Here, various defined points are focused. However, it can happen that the camera focuses on something else instead of the face. To adjust the focus manually, you can use a little trick. All you need is a broomstick. Place the camera on the tripod and look for the exact section that you want to use for your picture. Since the image section is still empty, you cannot set the focus yet. Sit or stand exactly in the picture where you will be later. Now you set up the broom so that the end of the handle is at eye level with you. You can raise the broomstick with a stack of books or boxes to fit it. On the camera you can now focus on the point at the end of the broomstick. To do this, simply turn the lens until the broomstick is in focus. So your eyes will be in focus afterwards.

Also make sure that you take the pictures in RAW format. This format is best suited for post-processing your application images and can be easily converted into a JPEG afterwards.

All of these settings are of course only guidelines. You should try back and forth a few times and take test photos so you can see which settings look best with your camera. After all, every camera is different and at the end of the day you decide what your application photo should look like.

Find the right format and size

If you think of an application photo, usually only the classic portrait format comes into consideration. For more conservative companies, you should continue to choose this format. The portrait format also makes sense for corpulent people, since it stretches and often appears less bulky due to the appropriate image section. Both landscape formats and square pictures are modern and stand out from the mass of applications. They also look high quality and noble. These too are now generally recognized and can certainly be used.

In landscape format (left), the image section is usually smaller than in portrait format (right).

Your application photo should be 5 to 10 cm high and 4 to 7 cm wide. You are always right with a size of 6 x 4.5 cm. The most common photo sizes, which also correspond to the golden ratio, are 6 x 4 or 9 x 6 cm. The sizes apply to both portrait and landscape formats.

Show sympathy and personality

No matter in which industry you apply, a photo is a must. But which photo is suitable for which job advertisement? It should be mentioned in advance that holiday photos and private pictures should not be used for any application. Our experts also agree on this.

Are you a school student and would like to apply for an internship? Then the focus of your picture should be on sympathy. We asked our body language expert Jochen Baier about sympathy in application pictures. "You have to be real.", so Baier. The career coach Dr. Bernd Slaghuis answered the question similarly: "Stay yourself." Sympathy and authenticity should be in a healthy balance. The finished application picture should not only show you yourself, but also convey your personality. When taking the application picture, it is also important that you feel good and can say: "Yes I am!".

The smile should look natural and not silly. Without a smile, you seem serious and serious.


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