PictureMatt (2015)
My friend, Matt, asked me take a photo of him for his LinkedIn profile. Naturally, as I do with every project I know too much about, I turned it into a major production.

I've worked with Matt since 2012. He is a smart guy in his early 20s, New York Italian, who's good at soccer and likes to travel, and he recently started a LinkedIn account.  He's never been too interested in social media, and I don't blame him. He knows what he likes, and posting photos of lunch every day is not part of his routine.  But, he has reached an age, and a level of career advancement, where he recognized the drawback of not being in control of his own online presence.  So, he asked for my help.

Declaring a disdain for social media does not make someone immune from the negative effects of not having an online profile.  Matt works directly with clients every day. He regularly meets new clients, or their staff, on site or online. Those people are using social media platforms to learn about my friend.  When Matt leaves their office, ends a call, or responds to an email, the person he was helping is going online to find out who they are working with.  

The absence of any content says as much about a person as any messages or photos that are posted on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the rest. An online profile shows others that you are connected. For those of us who have a few decades of experience on Matt, it's the equivalent of having a number listed in the phone book.  It adds legitimacy.  And these days, people expect to see a picture of your face--preferably with a gentle smile.  Posting a proper profile photo is as important as putting on a clean shirt and matching socks before going to work.  It doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate. It doesn't even have to be expensive. It just has to look decent--like you took a bit of time to do it right.You wouldn't go to work without brushing your hair or tucking in your shirt, so don't post a selfie for your profile photo.

So, I offer the gallery below as "The Seven Faces of My Friend, Matt." These are my creative vision of how I see Matt, and my photographic interpretation of how he appears to me, and to others.  The first one is the darkest, but it's not dark. I see it more as thoughtful and somber. I added a soft glow to the image.  It's the kind of photo that he might use as the author's photo on the inside cover of a book jacket. He has shared a book idea with me, but I won't reveal anything here.  The second one, top right, is more serious. I used a high key treatment. Except for his brown eyes, I brightened all the dark areas, but retained a high contrast. I could see this used for his corporate head shot when he is running his own company. Nobody at his firm will wearing ties.  The next one, second row down, left, is the happy, bright blue shot.  Like most people, Matt has an unnatural smile when he knows he's being watched, or photographed.  So, for this shot, I had just told him to scratch something...private.  CLICK.  I got the shot.  This shot is of the Matt I know telling jokes around the office.  Next, second row, right, is a wide shot. This is how Matt would look on the big screen, in a movie about a team of young engineers who are working fast to save the world from destruction, and Matt is showing the calm confidence of an effective team leader who knows they will succeed. The next shot, third down, left, is how Matt would look as your professor in the computer science lab at MIT or Stanford. He is friendly and confident, but just a bit uneasy about whether or not everybody realizes that he is the youngest one in the department and wonders if he belongs there.  He does.

The last two, the square ones, are formatted for his LinkedIn profile. I created the black and white version as an artistic alternative to the standard color head shot.  I also like this one because it most reminds me of how Matt looks like Derek Jeter.  Well, maybe he doesn't look a lot like Jeter, but it's just all the discussions about Jeter and the Yankees that make me think of that.  This is the face of a guy who has never known what it feels like to have his team out of the playoffs for three years in a row.  This is the face of New York confidence.  

And the last shot, the square one in color, is how you will see Matt online. It's how I see him every week: bright eyes, wry smile, scruffy chin, and looking straight at you.  This photo does what a profile photo is supposed to do. It shows people what you look like if they were to meet you in person on a regular day.  It's not when you are dressed up for a special occasion and it's not when you are on vacation enjoying drinks by the pool.  So, I extend my gratitude to Matt for allowing me to share these photos, and my thoughts, with you.  If I have honored Matt, and embarrassed him a little, then I consider this project a success.

If you need a new profile image for LinkedIn, or any of the other sites, please ask me.  It takes only a few minutes, but it's time well spent.

The 5th clue in the 2015 FREE PHOTO contest is "L"