This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

Where’s the top of my head?

I get asked this question fairly often—mostly when I’m reviewing images with a client after their photo shoot.

Oddly enough, when I ask them if they noticed every shot in my portfolio is decapitated the same way, the answer involves a look of astonishment. 

It seems the only heads we’re worried about are our own. 

Anyway, what does the top of your head have to do with the impact of your profile photo? Everything…and it boils down to nature, beauty, and the math that binds them.

When composing an image, a photographer should take into account its intended purpose and placement.A headshot isn’t just a photograph of your head; it’sthe leading edge of your personal brand. In other words, it’s supposed to be about YOU; not your torso, not your tie, not the backdrop, and—unless you’re Mikhail Gorbachevnot the top of your head.

This is particularly true for placements like LinkedIn or other social media outlets where profile photos are compact in size, but critical in function. Consider Kirsten’s photo below, shown here in two different versions of the ubiquitous square crop.

As you can see, both follow the Rule of Thirds you may remember learning about in grade school art class, with key points of interest (eyes) at convergence points and extra credit available for leading lines in/out of corners.

Okay, so maybe the Rule of Thirds is a lazy interpretation of 13th century mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci’s “Divine Ratio”(1:1.618), around which some of the most famous buildings and works of art in history are designed, including the Parthenon, the Mona Lisa, and many others.

Whatever its lack of sophistication, I’ve found the Rule of Thirds works just fine for headshots.

Here, you can see both images in relative balance with their boundaries; one retaining the top of the head and the other losing it. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Look at the area inside the red squares, which reflects the percentage of the overall image dedicated to Kirsten’s face.

With nearly double the area available for expression—up from 15% to 27%—not only can we see more of the sparkle in her eyes…but more of the imaginative, insightful, independent qualities she identifies as the core of her personal brand.

Now that we’ve established the fact that losing the top of your head can nearly double your headshot’s personal branding power, the question you should be asking yourself is:

Why didn’t my photographer cut off mine?

LIMITED TIME OFFER: Shoot me an email including your current headshot and I will unleash a little headshot ninjutsu to “croptimize” it for you free of charge. Just remember, anything times zero is still zero. Wondering if your headshot is a brand liability? I’ll give it to you straight…