When you look at a dating profile, what do you go to first? Is it the self description, in which everyone claims that they hate to write self descriptions? Is it the interminable list of obscure books, movies, and music that they throw into the profile in the hopes of convincing you how wonderfully eclectic and brilliant they are? No, chances are you ogle the picture, just like everybody else.
When you look at a profile dating picture, you’re not just looking at it, but you’re using it to make snap judgments, deciding whether or not you like this person and whether or not you want to contact them. Here’s the scary part—they’re doing that to you, too. If you don’t put some effort into finding the best photos available for your online dating profile, you’re going to get passed over time and time again.
You always want to look your best on a date, so why not look your best in the picture that might get you the date? Instead of just grabbing that photo from the wedding you attended 11 years ago when you were wearing the most hideous bridesmaid dress ever, you might want to consider getting dressed up and spending a few bucks to get a professional photo done. There’s always some portrait studio offering a deal and it’s not like you need a bunch of wallet-size photos or anything.
The downside of the glamour shot is that it often looks too staged and can make people think you’re trying too hard. The answer may be a “casual” portrait, perhaps taken outdoors. This gives you the quality of a professional portrait with a more laid-back look.
It’s a generally accepted fact that people look more attractive when they’re smiling, so you always want to look happy in a dating photo. Take a look at your vacation photos. Don’t you always look happy in them?
Vacation photos often give good clues as to what inspires and entertains us, and they usually show us in the best light. You look a heck of a lot more interesting zip-lining through a South American jungle than you do kicked back on your couch watching “Family Guy.” It’s also a lot more believable when you tell people that you speak fluent Italian if your profile photo is taken in Venice.
The challenge with vacation photos is to find ones that have just you in them. Most people don’t vacation alone, and you probably don’t want your ex (or current partner) smiling next to you in a dating profile. Your friends, siblings, or others with whom you vacation probably don’t want you posting their mugs all over your dating profile, either, so you need to either find a solo picture or learn how to digitally crop pictures very well.
Okay, first off, provocative does not mean raunchy, so save the X-rated photos of what you perceive to be the most impressive parts of your anatomy for at least a second date. Still, the idea is to attract a mate, so you want to show off a little. A picture with one extra button undone to show some cleavage or a sleeve rolled up to show your bulging biceps is not such a bad idea.
When doing provocative photos, be sure that you adhere to the rules of the site and show only what you’re allowed to show. Low lighting is good, as people always imagine the best about what they can’t see. If the shots are really provocative, you might not want to show your face—these things have a tendency to end up on sites other than the ones you intend and you don’t want to be recognized as the star of an Austrian porno magazine without getting any royalties.
Photos Not to Use
There are a few clichés in the world of dating profile photos that should be avoided like the plague. It’s a shame that so many of them are still used so commonly by both men and women.
First off, do not use the picture taken in the bathroom mirror with a cell phone. For guys, particularly avoid the shirtless picture in the bathroom mirror. It just screams “I’m ashamed to be doing this, I won’t spend any money on this, and I don’t really care what anybody thinks of me, but the site says I need a picture, so here you go.”
Avoid putting pictures of your kids in your profile, too. We all know that they’re a huge part of who you are, but for their protection and privacy, if nothing else, they need to be left off of dating profiles. Pet pictures are a little better, since their privacy is not such a concern, but they can sabotage your efforts by making people think you’re the crazy cat lady who lives upstairs.
The photo is the first thing anybody is going to notice about your dating profile, so you may as well get it right. Take the time to get one made professionally, or at least select a good one that shows you being happy or seductive. Get your photo right and people may actually bother to read about what a fascinating person you are…Or maybe they’ll just print it and sell it to an Austrian porno mag.