​​​​​​​​​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. On a number of occasions during client consultations I discovered that clients were using professional head-shots, selfies and in some cases photos with exes in their online dating profiles.

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.

My goal in photography is to not round out my portfolio, get publicized nor get likes on social media. My objective in portrait photography is to help clients look their best, boost confidence, get more dates and secure more auditions. It is with that approach that I aim to guide them into what makes for good online dating profile photos.

I have interviewed countless many matchmakers, stylists, users of online dating sites to figure out what makes for a good profile. Photos are usually #1. Here are my list of No No’s to getting the most out of your online dating profile through 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. (Do you have something to hide? 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 sunglasses photos.
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! Ok, maybe one epic photo showcasing your thirst for travel or photography skills can be helpful but this is a dating website, not your portfolio gallery.
9) Avoid staged modeling photos. These are often stiff, lifeless and are easily identifiable as being staged.
10) Avoid photos that imply an ex was cropped out. If you have to crop someone out (either erasing them or cutting them out with scissors) it will leave a bit of uncertainty and mystery.
11) Avoid photos that were taken more than 5 years ago. This is more of a guide, especially true for close up shots or the older you are. 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. You should be proud of who you are today and how you look today.

12) Stay away from extremely small, blurry and dark photos. (People want to see you and how you look like, not a silhouette.)

Now that I got all those out of the way, you may be wondering, what can I use? That is easy. You want photos that put you in the best light and that represent who you are. Here is my guide to successful online dating photos:

1) Photos of you smiling — this is the #1 pet peeve of online dating coaches. If you are brave, embarrassing photos are great. It shows you know how to let go, poke fun of yourself and have fun!
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. Novel idea — I know.
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 / some couple, 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) Candid shots are great! An ability to poke fun of yourself, let loose, have fun and be silly is always a good thing. Stiff, staged photos stick out like a sore thumb. Authenticity is key here.
6) Use a variety of shots (4–5 total photos should suffice). 1 up close, 1 action photo, 1+ travel photo and 1 candid photo can round out your profile.
7) 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?
8) 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 photo of you with the other person your ex? 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 in your profile.

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. To that point, you want to portray yourself at your best, you do not want to fool anyone.

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,minimize unflattering looks and optimize shooting time. Convey your interest, hobbies and passions. Anything you can communicate about yourself will help with site, activity and backdrop selection.

Lastly, once you develop a good number of photos to include in your profile, make sure to review it and take out unflattering photos (Photofeeler is a good source for help too).. 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).