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Online Dating Magazine > Features > Profile Photo Tips

Creating a Better Online Dating Photo
by Julie-Ann Amos for Online Dating Magazine


When it comes to online dating, many people have a phobia about posting their picture for the “world to see.” Yet the simple fact is that profiles with pictures get a far bigger and better response than those without. The quality of response, as well as the quantity, is both better. According to, men are 14 times more likely to look at a female profile with a photo, and women are 8.5 times more likely.

Most people who really worry about placing a picture online aren’t worried about strangers seeing it – they’re worried their friends, family or someone who knows them will see it and recognize them. This is a real risk – if that family member or best friend is also looking online for a date. Otherwise they’re not likely to be on the website to see it, are they? So don’t worry so much about being recognized, as only people also planning or considering online dating will stumble across it. If you’re still concerned, join a site where members have to pay to see pictures. That will give you some more security because it tends to eliminate anyone who isn’t seriously looking.

Why is a photo so important?

» If you don’t trust the Internet enough to list a photo, chances are that many people won’t trust it enough to believe a profile without one. Would you?

» It shows you’re serious about looking.

» Your site may give additional benefits or privileges to members with photos.

» Many people simply don’t reply to people without a picture. It’s limiting your chances of success quite dramatically (between 8.5 and 14 times, remember?).

What sort of picture is best?

» A photo you actually like. Using a picture you don’t like, however much it appeals to your friends, only encourages you to make negative comments or be apologetic when speaking to people. So you run the risk of playing down the photo when people compliment you on it – and that really can turn people off.

» A recent picture – at most 18 months old. If you don’t have one, or have no access to digital cameras, get a snap taken and get it scanned in onto a floppy disc for a small fee at a Kinko’s or similar store. Or invest in getting a nice one taken – it’ll be worth it.

» Always use a well-lit, clear facial or head-and-shoulders picture for your main profile shot. Not one from the neck up, which may look as though you’re trying to hide your body, just a plain and simple head and shoulders shot. Your legs may be your best feature, but save them for later. Facial pictures attract the most genuine interest.

» Pick one where you are smiling. This may seem obvious, but you only need to browse online to see how many people don’t realize how much more inviting a smiling face is.

» Save action and creative shots for your “more photos” area. As long as you can clearly be seen, there’s nothing wrong with using action (or more creative) photos to compliment your main profile close-up. Most services allow you to upload up to 5 or more additional photos of you. Sometimes a nice action shot can create a “talking point” for someone who wants to get to know you better. One guy had a shot of him with a monkey, which resulted in many inquiries. If you use action or creative shots be sure that you can be clearly seen and that the lighting and focus is well done. The shots should be a reflection of who you are.

What should you avoid?

» Glamour shots – looking like a model in your profile may generate lots of responses, but is likely to disappoint when you actually meet, if you’ve been made to look glamorous by a good photographer.

» Pictures with other people in them. Not only is it not nice to have someone’s picture online without their permission, but at first glance it looks a little strange. Is that your brother? Husband? Ex-boyfriend? Best friend? Which of the two faces belongs to the profile? It’s plain confusing. Avoid pictures with anyone else in them. They’re buying in to the idea of contacting YOU, not joining your family or social circle!

» Poor quality pictures – dark, light, fuzzy, yellow, blurred, it all speaks volumes about how seriously you are looking.

» Hats. Choose a picture without a hat – and that especially applies to guys, who seem to have a tendency to want to show off their hat as much as their face!

» Sunglasses – unless you really do have something to hide.

» Hair in face – too much hair over the face again gives the impression of someone who has something to hide.

» Spare body parts. Stray arms or hands in the edge of the picture – whose are they? Is this a picture of you with your ex? Not exactly the best impression you can give. Cutting them off or blacking them out can look just as bad. You’re saying you haven’t bothered to get another picture taken since the relationship ended – which doesn’t give a potential date confidence that you are willing to move on and meet someone new, does it?

» Too much bare flesh. Yes, it may get you a lot of attention but how much of it is serious? Men especially, choose a photo where you’re wearing a shirt, however rippling your muscles are! Risqué or sexually inviting shots are definitely NOT recommended.

» Ladies, don’t wear too much make-up. It can make it seem as though you’re trying too hard.

Tips for having a picture taken:

» Wear something in a flattering color, in a style that’s likely to attract the type of person you want to meet. Don’t wear a crisp formal suit if you actually have three dogs and want to meet a country-lover, or a denim jacket if you only want to meet a professional career-woman/businessman.

» Daylight in the beginning part or end of the day is most flattering, rather than harsh midday sun. Indoors, consider using an extra lamp to throw some light on your face for good light.

» Keep your hair out of your face, and hold your chin up – it may feel strange, but it avoids giving the impression of a double chin, whether or not you have one. Ladies wear makeup just a little heavier than normal so it shows nicely in the picture, but be careful not to overdo it.

» Smile, and be warm and welcoming. Try to avoid drunken grins, nervous smiles, startled looks, giggles or open-mouthed laughter. These are rarely as attractive as a nice warm smile. Take as many pictures as necessary to get one good one you can use.

» Look into the camera. Pictures of you actually looking at the viewer score far, far higher than those of you smiling wistfully into the distance.

If possible, get someone to take the picture who’s as similar as possible to the person you want to meet – they will try to get a flattering shot that looks good to them which means it’s likely to look good to your prospective target audience.

Be sure to relax. If the picture means you get responses you don’t like, you can change it, just as you can rewrite the profile. Experiment and see which photo gets you the best response.

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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