This is a topic that catches many students off guard, but it is actually a very important element of the scholarship application process. Read below to see why taking a great application photo is necessary and continue reading for great tips on how to make it happen!
• How does the College Fund use my photo from the application?
The Fund uses photos submitted by students for reporting to donors about the scholars they support. We also use your profiles and essays to inspire more donations with our direct mail appeals to supporters and also to create student profiles to share your success stories on our website. Each year that you apply, you will need to upload a new photograph to submit alongside the application.
• Why is it important to take a proper photograph?
It is important to present photos that depict yourself in a good way. You don’t want to be too expressive to the recent fads and styles that include ball caps and sunglasses. You also want the photo to be a clear photo of you, not something that is pixilated or really dark. We know you’re happy to be in college; smile!
• What makes a really good photograph for the application?
We prefer to have big faces in photos. But if you have your kids in the photo or other faces that is good too.
• Do I need to be formal? Is Native dress encouraged?
It doesn’t have to be formal, just make sure it is on a good hair day. Native dress is always nice to have in our reports but it is not a requirement; but remember, we prefer large faces.
• Should I use a camera or is my camera phone okay?
We like to have photos to use from a camera. Most of the financial aid offices should have cameras to take your photos. I understand limitations to the access so if you are using your camera phone to take your photos, be sure to get someone to take it for you (no selfies) and to get close to your face so that it doesn’t need to be cropped, hence giving the photo a lower image quality. Also, try to take the photo outdoors for better quality of light. Try to avoid using the computer to take your photo. Sometimes the screen makes your face blue and this is your portrait, not Avatar.
• What background should I use for the picture?
Try to avoid back-lit scenes where the light source is behind you. Your face gets dark. Optimally, I would suggest using a light source like a window or a strong light in front of you. Blankets and scenes can complement your photo, too. If you are taking a photo against a wall, try to get at least four feet away from the wall and focus on your face.
• Can I take the picture myself or do I need someone else to do it?
When at all possible, it is best to have someone take the photo for you.
• What are any additional tips and tricks for taking an awesome application photograph?
SMILE! Make sure your face is in focus and you are not in a side profile pose. Have fun with your photo and try to “fill the frame” with the most important part of the photo, YOU. The scene you are in may be really nice, but remember we want to see your faces and show the donors who you are. Be creative and try to represent yourself in the best light.
The wisdom and humor in this Application Tip is brought to you by Jaime. Jaime is a media specialist at the College Fund with a background in photojournalism.