The online dating world is a competitive one. With thousands of profiles scattered across a variety of different networks, making a memorable first impression is critical.
It turns out that having a good profile photo could be what makes the difference between receiving messages and getting passed over for another profile.
Lisa Hoehn is an online dating pro. She’s the founder of Profile Polish, a one-woman business that helps daters to make over their profiles and potentially attract more matches.
Hoehn shared some of her tips for choosing the most effective profile photos. We’ve demonstrated some of the changes she typically recommends, using three real Profile Polish clients as case studies.
1. Less isn’t always more.
It’s important to use as many photos as your dating site of choice allows. Hoehn upgraded Mary Beth, an OKCupid dater, from one, far-away shot to three beautiful photos that better demonstrate who she is as a person.
In the first of the three new photos, Hoehn’s cropping brings the focus to Mary Beth’s face and away from the cars and sunset in the background.
For the second one, she added a black border to make an already beautiful photo fit OKCupid specifications.
“The photos have to be 400 by 400 pixels for the site, but Mary Beth hadn’t used this photo because it was too small, even though it’s a great one of her,” Hoehn said. “If a photo is too small, but you feel it’s one you want to use, don’t be afraid to add a border to make it work. There are lots of free photo-editing sites you can use.”
And in the third, Hoehn chose a photo where Mary Beth looks obviously confident and happy.
“She isn’t wearing makeup here, which I think is better. It may seem informal, but there’s no use in hiding behind only fancy photos,” Hoehn said. “Someone you’re dating is going to see through that right away, so don’t be afraid to show who you are.”
2. Vary your poses.
Caroline is another OkCupid dater who got some help from Profile Polish. Hoehn’s main critique of Caroline’s photo choices was that she posed pretty much the same in all three of the pictures, and though she looked attractive, they were a little too dark to show off her best features.
“The first main photo is a window into your profile,” Hoehn said. “Someone scrolling through the site is obviously going to pick the woman they can see more clearly.”
Studies have shown the most popular online daters look straight into the camera and smile with their teeth. Hoehn chose the first photo because Caroline appears engaging and approachable.
“Even if it is online, you’re more likely to feel engaged with someone if they’re looking right at you,” Hoehn said.
For the second photo in a set, Hoehn recommends picking a photo that says something about what you like to do for fun, whatever that may be. She also recommends picking at least one photo that shows your whole body.
“It breaks it up visually, and people can see what you really look like,” she said.
And for the third, she picked one she felt really showed who Caroline is as a person.
“She looks so happy,” Hoehn said. “You feel like you know her, and there’s something really warm about it.”
3. Keep it clean.
Hoehn had some of the same general critiques for Dan, another OKCupid dater.
“Overall, the photos aren’t terrible, but they all sort of look the same,” Hoehn said.
She had a few issues with the second two photos Dan chose, though.
Profile Polish / Business Insider
“I’m generally a fan of Halloween pictures. I think the costume you choose says something about your personality,” Hoehn said. “But having another girl in the picture is really a grey territory, unless it’s really obvious she’s your sister.”
In the third photo, Dan is obviously having a good time, but Hoehn advises against using a photo where you appear to be intoxicated — and Dan’s beer-in-hand isn’t too subtle.
Instead, she chose a photo that better showed his sense of humour.
“Yes, he does have a glass of dark liquor, but he’s having fun and it’s obvious he’s enjoying a quality dinner,” Hoehn said. “He’s not taking it too seriously.”
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