I want to to create an portrait style avatar for use on my profile on stackexchange, facebook, and other social sites. Ideally the image should be a quality head shot, recognizable over a range of sizes, and still look good when scaled down to tiny thumbnails. Hopefully the image would stand out in an array of other avatars.
I know this is a lot to ask of a couple of hundred pixels.
Are there any tips on preparing such a shot? Is there any particular lighting that works best? Are monochromes better for this task? what about cropping? Head and shoulders or face only? Edit: the avatar should be recognizable as me.