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Lights, camera, action: 5 steps to a better profile pic

Here's how to get your online dating profile looking (and working for you) better. 


Beth Cook

Internet Culture

Posted on May 24, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 2:59 pm CDT

Beth Cook is a dating coach and writer. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

I thought that by now people would know better than to post inappropriate photos on their online dating profiles.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. There is still an inordinately large number of self-portraits gone wrong floating about in cyberspace: shirtless males in their bathroom mirrors; cat-eyed females with T&A front and center; group shots where singletons are indistinguishable from their friends; blurry photos where facial structure is uncertain.

This is not the way to get attention my friends. Well, at least the good kind. It’s a surefire way to turn people off.

So, what makes a good online profile pic, you ask? There are four important things you should keep in mind while selecting photos to accompany what I’m sure is your very witty online profile.

1) First of all, you only need three to five photos. Less is scary (what does he/she really look like) and more is overwhelming (he/she looks like a garden gnome traveling the world).

2) Only include recent photos. I’m talking from the last year, not three years ago—when you were 15 pounds lighter and had hair.

3) Have your friends and family take photos of you, and alone (groups are distracting). Selfies look a little pathetic and it’s nearly impossible to get a decent angle, as is so wonderfully demonstrated from the art accompanying this article. 

4) Include a mix of close-ups and body shots, so people get a sense of the whole you. I suggest having a smiling close-up photo as your lead image (most people respond to smiling heads, not stoic ones).

5) Lastly, your photo gallery should showcase diverse sides of you. In other words, be cute and informative. Do you love biking, craft beer and throwing dinner parties? Add one photo of you doing each activity. Avoid too much of one thing (i.e. all party shots or outdoor shots… because you don’t live at the club or in your car, do you?).

Make a list of what photos you need so you remember to collect them (a.k.a., bug your friends to follow you around with a smartphone). Having the right photos accompany your profile is crucial—it can make or break your next date. Lights, camera, action!

Photo by rileyroxx/Flickr

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*First Published: May 24, 2013, 9:00 am CDT