Cool Instagram profile pics. What should it be?

Julia Moore
How to tell users who you are in less than three seconds? Choose a profile photo that reflects the style and topic of your profile. In this article, we will tell you how to choose a cool Instagram profile pic that will attract specifically your audience.
Reading time — 16 minutes

How to choose a good photo

The two main attributes of a cool Instagram profile pic are what’s in it and its quality. Both of them are equally important. But let’s start from the second.

We mean image resolution and color parameters when speaking about the quality of a photo. They have the last word, because if objects in the image can’t be identified, they won’t help to understand what your profile is about. 

Here is a check-list that will help you to make sure your photo is good. 

  • Brightness. A profile photo should be bright enough to allow users to see what’s pictured. On the first screenshot you can see an example of a photo with good brightness. 
  • Contrast between the background and object. Background’s and object’s brightness should be different. If you choose a photo where an object is more dark, make sure it is bright enough to be identified. The example is on the second screenshot.
  • Focus. An object should be in focus. But the background may be blurred, it will make it more contracting to the object and remove distracting details from it. 
  • Size of an object. Elements in a photo should be large enough so that people can see and identify them. 
  • Resolution. There shouldn't be pixels seen in a photo. To avoid it, choose a photo that is 320x320 pixels minimum. Here you can read about the ideal size.
  • Centering. An object should be placed in the center of your photo. The example is on the third screenshot.

Here are examples of good profile photos. 

What to choose for your profile picture

Now let’s decide on what will be in your photo. There can be a logo, an object, or you. If you have accounts in other social networks, you better use the same photo in all of them and on Instagram.

We made a check-list for you. It will help to answer the question "what to choose for my profile picture".

  • Profile relevance. If you like animals and often write about them, you better choose a cat's or a dog's photo for your profile. Or maybe you have a more exotic pet? It will draw even more attention. 
  • Profile colors. Choose a picture with the same colors that are dominant in your profile, or apply a filter for this purpose. If you promote a company’s page, choose a photo with the brand’s colors. 
  • Brand font. If there are words in your photo, then spend enough time choosing a font, or use your brand font. 
  • Trendy profile photos. Photos related to a coming holiday or currently popular series will draw attention. Don’t forget to change your photo after the hype around the series calmed down. 
Looking ahead, if you really want to add a trendy profile photo, but you don’t want to change it too much, you can add a little element. 

For example, add a line with the number of the coming 2022 year. Then, users will recognize you and won’t miss when you change the photo back. More about adding elements further. 

Logo

Choose a logo if you promote a brand. Clients will recognize you online and offline by it. 

Logo can be a combination of letters or words. You can write a brand name or its motto. If there are too many words, use their first letters. For example, the first letter of the brand name. 

An object or combination of lines can be a logo too. What’s important, they must reflect the idea of your business. You can choose a coffee cup or a coffee bean. If you want your logo to be symbolic lines, use the cup or bean outline.

You can also combine the words and pictures.

A good logo is:

  • Long-live. Such logo will be relevant to your company in a year, two, and even in a decade. Think about the direction in which you want to develop your company. If you grow and sell vegetables, but you are going to get a cow and sell dairy products too, a cabbage in your profile photo will not be good.
  • Simple. People will easily remember a simple logo, which means they will easily recognize you. Try to draw your logo by memory. If you succeed in doing it and haven’t run out of the ink, your logo is pretty much good. 
  • Multiuse. Once your company becomes famous, you’ll hit the headlines and probably launch your product line. Your logo will be used in the backgrounds of different colors and shapes. And a good logo fits any of them. It looks as if it’s always been there, no matter whether it’s a white T-shirt or a black website page. 
  • Unique. Your logo can be easily distinguished among hundreds of others.

Photographs

Photo as a profile picture is good both for a personal blog or a brand. People in a photo make an impression of a more personal contact. An object or a view tells users about your profile topic more. 

Portrait photo

Your photo or photo of your team may be a cool profile picture. Choose a full-face view, headshot, half-body or ¾ portrait. A person in a full-body portrait is too small. 

Smile, show you are friendly. A smiling person is perceived positively. Even if you run a brand’s page and do a serious business, it doesn’t mean you never smile. 

Look straight at the camera as if you are approaching users. Look to the side only if you want to show your romantic and careless personality, this is more for art accounts. 

Think rigorously about your clothes and settings to take a cool Instagram profile pic. 

  • Your look, if it is shown in a picture. Choosing the right look will tell a lot about you and your blog. For example, if you are creative, put on bright clothes. If you provide legal services and want to show your professionality, put on a costume or choose a look in modest shades. 
  • Accessories and additional attributes will tell users about you as much as clothes. You can use it even in a full-face view portrait. If you like or sell flowers, take a photo with a bouquet or a wreath. If diving is your love or work, choose a photo where you are in the mask. 
  • Settings. Think about the settings if you are taking a half-body or ¾ portrait. It should give another hint about your profile topic or what kind of person you are. If you go hiking every weekend, take a photo in front of the mountain or forests. If you do sports, choose your photo from the gym. 

Objects

An object in a photo should be associated with you or your brand. It may be dumbbells or flowers, sun, bird, whatever. An auto service can choose a photo of a car, a nail salon can choose a hand with a beautiful manicure. 

A view is a good alternative to the objects. In a personal blog, use a picture of a beach if you like the sea, or trees if you like to go to the countryside. If you promote an offline business on Instagram, add a facade picture or an image of the internal design. Your cool Instagram profile pic may also be a picture of a single element in the building. For example, a front sign or a bar counter. 

Monitor stock photos

You don't have to arrange a photo shoot to get a cool Instagram profile pic. You can find a good image right now on photo-stock websites. Photos are already edited there, you only need to choose. 

Photo stocks are a good place to search for inspiration. Look at what others do, and you will come up with your own idea. 

We suggest three websites to you where you can download photos for personal and commercial use. You don’t need to pay or provide the link.

  • On Splitshare, you will get a good collection of brutal photos. The major topics are mountains, technology, and cities. 
  • Go to the Startupstockphotos for photos with work and study topics. There you will find photos of offices and rooms, classes and conferences.
  • Realisticshots offers a wide choice of more romantic and life-style photos. If you need a photograph of parties and celebrations, animals, routine things, drinks, or just inspiring images, be sure you’ll find them here.

How make a photo look cool

A cool Instagram profile pic will catch users’ attention and be regarded positively. You know your audience better. For one account, a bright photo will be the best option. For another, a portrait in modest tones works best. 

We suggest several ideas on how to make your Instagram profile picture more interesting. They will certainly attract attention.

Turn your photo into an artwork

You can take a ready painting as your profile photo, or turn your photo into an artwork. 

If you want to take a ready painting, search for them on Pixabay or Canva. Images are good for both personal and commercial use there. 

If you want to turn your photo into an artwork, you can do it in Picsart. There are different styles of artworks.

Create your emoji

Make your own emoji for your profile picture. You can create and download them for free in Bitmoji. The app generates different emoji based on your photo, you can download any you like. Bitmoji is both for iOS and Android. iOS’s users can also use default apps to create Memoji, which is quite the same. 

Change the background of your photo

Make your photo more interesting by changing its background. You can do it using online editors. 

On Editphotosforfree, you can upload your own images as a new background or choose color gradients from the website. On Picsart, you can upload your own background too. There is also a big collection of beautiful ready backgrounds, but they are available only on the paid plans. 

Decorate your photo with new elements

If you want to make your photo bright and non-trivial, add new elements that will make contrast on it. If you need a photo that presents you as a serious person, add elements that will merge with the photo. Don’t add to many of them, remember, tiny objects are not identified.

You can add elements, icons, stickers on your photo in Canva or Picsart. The services have similar features and tools, but their collections are different. Look through the elements on both of them and use the one where figures, icons, and stickers you like more. 

Choose filters and effects

If you are not good at photoshop yet, or you don’t have much time to edit photos, use filters and effects. They will fix a too dark photo or, on the contrary, a too bright one, and also give your photo the right mood. 

There are filters and effects in the Instagram camera. You will find those which make your photo either more funny or more formal. 

You can also install editing apps. For example, download YouCam Perfect for making beautiful portraits. Here is the app for iOS, and here is for Android.

Choose colorful filters for profile photos to present yourself as a bright and interesting person. Choose more modest filters to show you mean business. 

Don’t use too many filters and effects. It makes it difficult for users to understand what’s in the photo. 
When you've got your perfect photo, you need to add it to your profile. Here is how you do it.

The bottom line

There are two ingredients in the recipe of a cool Instagram profile pic. They are the image and the quality. All you need is to combine them. Choose what is associated with the topic of your profile and what your audience will love. Use photos no less than 180px by 180px. 

Filters and effects will fix the drawbacks of your photo, like too strong contrast, too dark or too warm hues. Such photo editing will also help to tell more about your profile.

Which way of making your photo cool would you like to try? Write in the comments!