​​​​​​​​​Online Dating Photos: Your Guide To What They are, How To Present Yourself And What To Avoid

Online dating photos — wait, that’s a thing? Yes, absolutely. As a photographer, I have noticed the subtle nuances in online dating photos and how they are viewed by others. The recent explosion in online dating sites and apps has caught many off guard with little to no etiquette to follow. Bad or improper photos can completely lower your chances of meeting that special someone online whether it is Tinder, Match, Zoosk, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge etc. I recommend clients approach online dating like job-hunting: just as you would never submit a poor resume / application to a potential employer, do not post an online dating profile that you are not proud of. I have interviewed countless many matchmakers, stylists, users of online dating sites to figure out what makes for a good profile. Here are my list of No No’s to getting the most out of your online dating profile photos.

1) Do not post photos with exes. (Obvious, but you would be surprised how many people post photos with exes.)
2) Stay away from selfies. This is especially gym selfies, car selfies, and bathroom selfies. (Unless you have an epic selfie on top of a mountain peak, ski lift, or with a celebrity, just say no to selfies)
3) Avoid cropped photos that clearly have someone removed from them. (Is it an ex? If not, it will trigger some red flags.)
4) Hold off on photos with your children. (It is great you love your children but simply listing you have children in your profile is enough for now.)
5) Avoid profile photos with your sunglasses on. (People want to see your eyes!) If you really love a photo with your sunglasses on go ahead and use it, just do not litter you profile with them.
6) Avoid group shots unless you specifically mention who you are in the lineup. (The last thing you want to do is have your date mistake you for a friend.)
7) No duck-faces nor Snapchat filters (no explanation needed)
8) Stay away from those vacation photos without you in the photo! This is a dating website, not your portfolio gallery.
9) Avoid staged modeling or portrait photos. These are often stiff, lifeless and are easily identifiable as being staged.
10) Avoid photos taken >5 years. You should be proud of who you are today and how you look today.
11) If you have an epic photo from a vacation from a distance or if you have 1 photo you absolutely love, that is fine. The last thing you want is to mislead suitors with images of your younger self. 

12) Stay away from extremely small, blurry and dark photos. (People want to see you and how you look like, not a silhouette.)
13) Avoid hat photos (1 is fine, but make sure it is not your main profile photo).

14) Include at least 1 full body photo. If all your photos are headshots, 1/4 body shots or 1/2 body images, people might assume you have something to hide.

15) When it comes to makeup, less is more. Avoid the caked-up foundation, makeup look. 

Now that I got all those out of the way, you may be wondering, what can I use? You want photos that put you in the best light and that represent who you are. Here are my recommendations:

1) Photos of you smiling . If you are brave, candid and embarrassing photos are great. It shows you know how to let go, poke fun of yourself and have fun! Authenticty conveys confidence.
2) Photos of you doing what you love — do you love dancing? do you love hiking? do you love dressing up for Halloween? Show it! This requires some planning on your part — you can invest in a Joby Gorillapod so you can take more photos of yourself or you can ask someone to take a photo for you. 
3) Ask someone to take a photo of you. It is easier to ask a stranger to take a photo of you while on vacation / tourist place of interest. Shy? If you struggle with selfies, people may volunteer to help you out. Additionally, if you are friendly and offer to take a photo for someone, they will usually reciprocate.
4) Look for photos of you from events online. If there is a photographer at an event you attended recently (sporting, professional, social etc.), you can probably find it online. Remember to ask the photographer/event organizer where the photos will be posted.
5) Use a variety of shots (3–6 total photos should suffice). 1 up close, 1 action photo, 1+ travel photo and 1 candid photo can round out your profile.
6) Use photos that will engage suitors, invite them to inquire about the backstory behind the photo. Where is that view of? What event was this photo taken at?
7) Be sure to label photos with a caption as needed. (i.e. friends, babies, others or the situation/setting). Do you want people to question if you have a child or not? Do you want people to confuse you with your attractive friend? Is that your ex in the photo? Your ability to write a captivating caption for an epic photo of yourself on vacation vs. stating ‘this is me at the beach’ can set different tones.

If you do decide to hire a photographer, find one that specializes in natural looking photos. Remember, a stiff professional headshot is just as bad as an unflattering amateur photo. Speak with your photographer to outline what things you are prone to (blinking, double chins, blemishes etc.) A good photographer can help accentuate your best features and minimize unflattering looks. Convey your interests, hobbies and passions.

Photofeeler is a good source for help with evaluating photos. Remember it is better to have fewer / higher quality photos than have that one extra unflattering photo that might offset the rest of the good ones (you are only as attractive as your worst photo).