Dos and Don’ts for Choosing Stand-Out Dating Profile Photos
According to my good friend Will, font of all knowledge, 90% of people decide to date someone based on their dating photos alone. So, armed with this information, you can up your game significantly in the dating arena by spending a little time choosing the best photos to help your profile stand out from the crowd. As the UK’s only dedicated dating photographer, I thought I’d share with you some of my top tips for choosing the best photos.
Don’t: Use blurry photos
The first and easiest thing you can do is avoid using any photos which are blurry. Having your face, especially your eyes, in pin-sharp focus will immediately draw people’s attention to your photos – for the right reasons.
Don’t: Use the flash on your camera (unless you’re a pro)
My pet hate is photos taken with an on-camera flash. When the flash sits so close to the lens it causes problems like “red-eye” and also creates a really horrible, unflattering light on the face. Red-eye is actually a bigger problem for dating photos than you might think. Basically, the eyes are the most important part of your dating photo. Potential dates, when scanning your photos, will be drawn to the eyes and will make decisions about you – important ones, like how trustworthy you are. If your eyes are hidden behind red-eye it will most likely put people off and they will move on to the next profile.
Don’t: Choose a poorly lit shot
So on the one hand I’m saying don’t use the flash, but I’m also saying don’t use poorly lit photos either. Badly lit photos don’t attract people’s attention; their eyes will be drawn to those light, bright profile photos instead.
Don’t: Have more than one person in the shot
People often use photos with their friends in the shot, but this is one of my big no-nos. While trying to work out which one you are in the photo, your potential date might decide they like the look of other people in the shot more than you, or they might decide they don’t much like the look of your friends. Having more than one person in the shot provides too much of a distraction from the main story, which should be you!
Don’t: Use a photo with your ex cropped out of the shot
The biggest mistake, of course, is using photos with your ex cropped out. If you’re doing this, I’d recommend you drop everything you’re doing right now and go and switch it for another one. You’ll suddenly find your hit rate jumps up.
Don’t: Use a photo with a messy background
As a photographer, I like a nice clean background of course, but for dating photos it’s really crucial because the main focus of the photo needs to be you, not the messy bedroom or living room behind you. Your photos will give people a lot of clues about who you are, from what clothes you’re wearing to what’s lurking away in the background. Make sure those clues are working for you, not against you – a big pile of dirty washing behind you in an untidy-looking flat isn’t going to do you any favours.
Don’t: Choose a photo where your face can’t be clearly seen
Your dating photos should be all about showcasing you at your best. This is your biggest opportunity to attract people to view your profile, so don’t waste it by using a photo that doesn’t show your face off. I know that photo of you halfway up a mountain shows that you’re athletic, but if people can’t see your face, they’ll most likely pass you over in favour of profiles where the face is clearly displayed.
Do: Be the main focus of the photo
If you follow my list of don’ts, you should find that what you end up with are nice light, bright, sharp headshots where you are the main focus of the picture.
Do: Head outdoors and find the light
To get good-quality, bright, well-lit photos, your best bet is to head outdoors. The quality of the photo will improve dramatically, and natural light is super flattering. Do avoid direct sunlight though, as the shadows can play havoc with lighting on your face – on a sunny day, head for a bright but shaded area.
Do: Wear clothes that are representative of who you are
Have a think about how you can express elements of your personality through your pictures. The easiest way to show personality is through your clothes. What do you feel great wearing? Go and dig out some outfits, and choose some different ones that show off the different parts of your personality if possible.
Do: Include props to help showcase elements of your personality
Have a think about any props you might want to use. I find props can be really good because they give clients something to do with their hands and help them relax into the shoot. Examples of props I like include big headphones for music lovers, cameras for photographers, books for avid readers, statement jewellery for fashion lovers, skateboards for skater-girls, etc. Anything that helps your personality shine through and that fits into the photo should work.
Do: Embrace colour
Use colour as much as you can, as this will help those photos jump right off the screen. Either wear strong colours or, if like me you prefer wearing neutral or darker colours, position yourself in front of some interesting colourful backgrounds.
Do: Choose a location that works for you
Think about which location you want to choose for your shots. Parks, quiet streets, canals, the sea, hills, inner-city streets and unusual architecture can all provide interesting backdrops for your photos and say a bit about you. If you can mix it up, even better – you really want to get a range of different looks for your photos, so change clothes, make-up, hair and backdrops when you can.
Do: Choose a photo where you look happy, relaxed and natural
The most important thing to get right in your dating photos is to make sure that you’re smiling and looking happy and relaxed. Everyone wants to be with happy people.
I hope these dos and don’ts help. Research suggests that using three or four photos at any one time is all you need; swap in some new ones every few weeks to keep your profile fresh and you should start to see a marked improvement in the number of hits and messages you receive.
Saskia Nelson is the talent behind the award-winning Saturday Night’s Alright, the UK’s only dedicated dating photography business. She is passionate about helping the UK’s eclectic range of single people to shine online and ultimately find love. She and her photographers specialise in creating gorgeous photos for her clients to help them build awesome online dating profiles that help tell the story of who they really are. Recently awarded Best Dating Individual in the 2014 UK Dating Awards, Saskia also puts her extensive online dating experiences to good use by sharing her experiences and wisdom on her blog and across a broad range of dating-related websites.