Dating, communication and Promenad

The photos you choose have a massive impact on the success of your online dating profile. They’re the first impression potential partners get when browsing through possible matches. As such, you’d better put some effort into selecting the very best ones, but how do you do pick the right ones?

There are numerous studies in the wild that show what does and doesn’t work for the kind of photos you put on your dating site. Many of these come from actual scientific institutions, others from aggregate data on dating sites. And still, others are just anecdotal evidence from avid online daters. That makes for a lot of potential half-truths to sift through, but it’s important to get it right because your photo serves a few different purposes. Not only do they show off that pretty face of yours, but they give your potential matches an idea of who you are, what matters to you, and the kind of lifestyle you live. No doubt, that’s a tall order for some profile pics, but we’ll break it down for you and show you how to take and select the best photos for your profile.

Say “Cheese”

smile girl

We’ve always been told to smile for our photos. For most people this is something we’re automatically trained to do, but for attracting mates, it’s a little bit nuanced than simply smiling and snapping a shot.

For starters, men and women differ slightly in what they find to be the most attractive. Rather than the smile itself, the opposite sex cares more about what’s behind the smile — the emotion, in other words.

Women find men that display pride to generally be the most attractive. Pride is associated with higher levels of masculinity and dominance, which indicate a better ability to care and provide for a family. On the flip side, men find women who are repping happiness the most attractive. Pure happiness tends to communicate femininity, low dominance and receptivity.

The takeaway? Men should take and choose photos that tend to show off a swelling sense of pride and a slight smile. And women should pick ones with a broad, happy smile.

The Left Side Is Right

men with a beard

Speaking of showing emotions, a university study shows that there’s an optimal angle to shoot your photos at. The left side of your face is generally perceived as more pleasant because we tend to emote more with that side. Don’t have a good photo that shows that side? Don’t fret — simply flip your image with your favorite photo editor. On a related note, when you’re showing off that left side emotion, pay attention to what you’re looking at. It turns out that women find men who are making strong eye contact more attractive, while men find women looking away from it more so. Probably has something to do with emotions.

Show Off Your Active Lifestyle

It turns out that photos showing off your interests and activities fare pretty well. Sports, hiking, kayaking — whatever it is, if you’ve got an active lifestyle and some photos to prove it, show them off.

Incidentally, gym photos may not necessarily fare as well. Most people appreciate hard work, dedication and self-discipline, but potential matches want to see how interesting and adventurous you are, not necessarily how much you love the gym.

Ditch the Filters

men and water

Filters can make for interesting Instagram pics, but for dating apps, not so much. Rather than making you look mysterious and cultured, they end up making you look unnatural and just plain cheesy.

The same thing goes for the filters that adorn your face with playful cartoon appendages and silly eyewear. Your potential matches want to get an idea of what you look like and the kind of person you are. Do you really want to be defined by your Snapchat filters?

The single exception to this rule are black and white filters. Having a fancy black and white portrait mixed in with your photos can make your profile seem more sophisticated and diverse, so if you have a photo that can work this angle for you, then, by all means, drain the color from it.

The Numbers

Smiling, not smiling, poses, lighting — all of these things matter immensely in selecting your photos. But one of the biggest impactors success in your dating profile is simply the type and quantity of the photos you have on it.

People with four or more photos tend to get more action from potential matches. Incidentally, women tend to post more photos than men, but men initiate first contact most of the time.

As for photo types and shots, you want to choose photos that show you full details of your face while giving your matches a good idea of your body type. That’s not to say you should show off your body exclusively — following the aforementioned guidelines is recommended.

Also, stay away from cropped and cut photos and selfies. You’ve seen them: photos that have an ex—along with an arm—sliced out of the side. These kinds of photos are a turnoff for matches and could result in your profile getting exed. On the same token, it’s a good idea to steer clear of selfies too. Instead, get a photographer friend to snap a few fresh shots for you.

Show Off Your Authentic Self

In a dating app where all we have are photos of the people we’re looking to grab a drink or coffee with, it’s pretty important to show them who we really are. In other words, don’t set your date up for disappointment and don’t practice duplicity — just show them who you really are.

Adding a full body shot to your profile can up its overall success. It’s alright if you don’t have the perfect body — most people don’t! Instead, people will appreciate your profile for its transparency. Also, given the other tips here, it’s important that your photos are clear and in focus. Get rid of the blurry or fuzzy photos. And while we’re on the topic, ditch the sunglasses and hats too. Don’t be afraid to show off those pretty peepers. Lastly, be sure to give your matches recent photos. It should go without saying, but people want to date the current person, not the one that existed three years ago.

At the end of the day, a lot of what makes a good photo is common sense. Don’t be afraid to show people who you really are, what you like and the kind of life you live. After all, they’ll find out eventually anyway — you might as well be upfront about it. And besides, self-confidence is one of the most attractive traits in a match, and that’s something that shines through your photos in spades.