Part of creating an online dating profile is also choosing the right photos. Just like what you write, which photos you use are crucial to making a good first impression. You have to think about your online dating profile as a comprehensive whole, and you want it to make sense. For example, if you write about how adventurous you are but only show photos of you lazing around the house, your profile isn’t going to make sense. If you leave the reader asking questions and wondering what’s real and what’s not, you’re likely going to miss out on some potential conversations.

There are a couple things you want to achieve when deciding which pictures to use.

First, obviously, you want show what you look like. Second, similar to your written portion, you want to give a visual of what it would be like to be in your company. You want people to be able to get in inkling of insight whether or not they could see themselves in a similar setting you’re presenting, whether or not they can see themselves being with you. In my opinion, this latter statement is crucial and the best guide to follow when scrolling through your albums looking for a range of photos.

For instance, a homebody type probably won’t see themselves being with the type of person who shows several photos of themselves base jumping or rock climbing.  If you’re a social butterfly and out many nights of the week partying with your big group of friends, you’re not likely going to be a good match for someone who likes to invite a few close friends over for game night a couple times a month. Obviously, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to who is attracted to who but giving an accurate well-rounded portrayal of yourself can be helpful in attracting the “most likely” right fit persons for you.

Stick to using 5-6 photos total. At the very least, less than 10.

More than that is unnecessary, and might possibly portray a pompous attitude, or some other negative judgment. Also, without an abundance of photos, you’re leaving more to share as you get to know someone. You also want the photos to be of you, not the pretty landscape you saw on a hike, or the fancy meal you had last weekend. Often people fill their picture quota with photos that have nothing to do with who they are as a person. Also, on some apps you might be able to share a link to your Instagram account.

Be current.

Using old photos is just going to backfire on you. When you meet people, you want them to see what they were expecting. If you don’t, you’ll likely come off as someone who’s a liar and/or ashamed of your current self.

Use photos that are in relatively close range of the camera.

Using photos where you’re standing far away, where the viewer can barely see you is useless. You might as well stick to pictures of landscapes.

Selfies are ok, but only using one, maybe two, is ideal.

Redundancy isn’t going to help you. If someone sees one pic of you in your car/in a mirror/at your desk, they’ve seen them all.

No hats, sunglasses or anything else that obstructs your face.

In the same light as standing too far away, what’s the point if the viewer can’t really see what you look like?

Be selective when showing skin.

Ladies, no boobs or bikinis. Guys, you can keep your shirts on. Leave some things left to be desired. At least think about the kind of person you want to attract before you choose these types of photos. If a body is all you are looking for, more power to you. But, if you want to find something more meaningful, save the intimate apparel for when you reach romantic moments.

Pay attention to what is in the background of your photo.

Using a bathroom mirror selfie? OK, but are all your toiletries in the background? Is the toilet seat up? I once saw a picture of a guy in his super messy bedroom. His bed was unmade and all I could think about was dirty sheets. It was a complete turn off. What’s around you may influence initial attraction.

Avoid using cropped photos, especially if the person you’re cutting out is an ex.

Even if it’s the best picture of you ever, don’t use it. Even if who you cropped out isn’t an ex, it’s likely to be presumed so anyway. It’s just looks bad.

Smile! Smile! Smile!

Generally, no one wants to hang out with an angry person, and nothing says angry better than a scowl. If you look like you’re miserable in your photos, you’ll give off a miserable vibe.

Show your social side.

Use a picture of yourself with your best group of friends out having a good time. Of course, this comes down to how comfortable you are sharing photos of other people in your life (and respect for their comfort as well), but it does help give a visual to the times you’re out and about having fun laughing with other people.  The only caveat here is making sure the viewer knows which person is you. What may be obvious to you may not be obvious to a person who doesn’t know you yet.

Show pictures of your pets, especially if they are a big part of your life and how you spend your time.

Some people don’t like animals. If pets are a deal breaker, it’s an easy one to get out of the way from the get-go. This one is not a “must do.” But, if it’s part of what your life is like, and something you highly value, it’ll be helpful.

In some cases, you can break the rules.

It’s ok to use a pic or two of you in your sunglasses if it helps paint the overall picture of the kinds of things you like to do and the places you like to go. For instance: you want to show yourself outdoors being active: hiking, boating, skiing, etc.

It’s ok if you use the one from Halloween wearing your outrageous costume. This one isn’t about what you look like, it’s about your fun nature, and the fact that you dig Halloween.

It’s ok if you’re far away in one because what you’re showing is how you’ve traveled to Egypt to see the great pyramids. You’re portraying adventure.

Try to follow the rules for most, and don’t worry about breaking it for some. You can also add captions to any photo to give more context. Remember, well-rounded is key.

Consider having professional photos taken.

This isn’t necessarily a ‘must do,’ but it can’t hurt. After all, online dating is an investment, especially if you are someone who wants to build a genuine lifelong connection with the right guy or gal. Also, if hiring a photographer is something you decide to do, your photos don’t need to be reserved for dating alone. You can use them on your LinkedIn profile, on your business website, print up some wallet size for your family, etc. They will be well worth your money.

If you think professional photos are too much for you, grab a friend, a smart phone and plan your own photo shoot. Be out and about, and maybe bring a change of clothes so it doesn’t look like it was all one day. Take off the sunglasses. Smile. Show people you are fun to hang out with.

In the end, when you decide what pics to post, take a moment to look at them objectively. If you didn’t already know the story behind them, what would you think? How might you end up being perceived if you were someone else?

Keep it simple, keep it real.

My Books:

How To Write A Great Online Dating Profile.

Within, you will find my best tips and strategies, including dos and don’ts, before and after examples, and a template to follow. There is also advice on which photos to choose and how to craft email messages. You will also find full written samples and a questionnaire to use for idea generation.

The Mindful Dating Path

I designed this dating journal to help you process thoughts and feelings as they relate to who you are deciding to spend time with. This journal is a mix of guided prompts and plenty of free flow. You may want to view it as a mix of a plain journal and an interactive workbook. The prompts are recurrent based on Date 1, Date 2, Date 3 and more.

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