For the sake of relevance and to avoid repeating everything that you've tried but didn't work for you, could you please list all the suggestions or links or tutorials you've followed that didn't work out? Also, mind sharing where you sourced the installer for Windows 8.1?
Ok, I got the ISO for Windows 8.1 from the Microsoft website. I have WinISO so I burned the installation DVD. The primary install went flawless. Absolutely no problems. I did not notice that when it installed that it only installed Windows 8.1 and not the Pro version that I had paid for a license (product key) for. The only thing that stood out was the fact that no where during the installation was I asked for my product key - I got that figured out. Now as far as the admin account picture, I have tried:
delete the picture and start over in settings
learned where the pictures are stored and deleted them as well
deleted all of the files in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures
replaced the picture with a "blank" image
replaced my picture with a random one from the web
renamed the file to .bmp because someone on the web said you cannot use .jpg (I was)
searched the registry for the name of the picture and deleted this information (but not the key)
found that there are 2 registry locations that hold the picture name and replaced the information I deleted in both
ran sfc /scannow 4 times
ran some powershell command - did nothing
ran some Microsoft account troubleshooter - did nothing
couldn't use the system restore, I had just installed Windows
copied the file from another Win 8.1 pc (%appdata%\\Microsoft\\Windows\\AccountPictures) to the laptop (same image).
Between working on getting this pc reloaded, the issue with the license and now this - I'm burnt. Please help
OK PEOPLE!!! Here is my EASY solution: I messed with everything on this laptop (Account Picture Folders, Default Account Pictures Folders, the registry, etc) and I learned that the LOGIN screen gets the single image to display the user picture from the file C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures\user.png. I took a copy of the picture that I wanted there and opened it with Paint. Changed the .jpg to .png. Then resized it to 448 x 448 pixels. I replaced the default file of the same name with that picture. Logged of and back on - PICTURE WAS THERE!!!! F'in DONE
Moderator note: Unmarked as Best Answer. BA self-awarded by OP.