How to get the Best Photo for your Online Dating Profile

It’s widely accepted that it takes only a few seconds to make a first impression and it’s never been truer than on dating apps. Your photo is without doubt the most important aspect of your dating profile.

It is therefore quite astounding that so many aspiring Cupids and Romeos pay so little attention to what their profile photo says about them. Gone are the days when the average selfie was sufficient, it just won’t cut it any more.

Thankfully there is some research available and if you’re in the online dating game then you must read on. Given the complexity of the subject and that results are at times different for men and women, I have split this blog in 3 sections:

  1. Tips that are common to both sexes;
  2. Tips that apply to women; and finally
  3. Tips that apply to men.

Tips Common to Both Sexes:

  1. Ditch that fake Colgate smile. As basic as it sounds, a natural genuine smile will attract more people even if your eyes look a little smaller and these crows feet are a little more obvious. A genuine smile displays real happiness.
  2. No Sunglasses. As much as you love your latest designer shades, they don’t work for online profiles. Remember the eyes are the window to the soul and you need to bare this part of your personality. If you really want to show off your sunglasses, wear them pushed back over your head.
  3. Avoid wearing a hat. According to dating site OkCupid, both men and women daters were seen as less attractive, and therefore got less likes from potential dates when they wore a hat in their profile photo. People want to see as much of you as possible, so show off your whole face and ditch the hat.
  4. Turn off that flash. Photographers know that a camera flash can make you appear much older in photos unless the light is diffused using special equipment. So make sure the flash is turned off before you start snapping away. Natural, soft light from a window for example does a better job at hiding blemishes and aging give-aways like wrinkles. You will also avoid red eyes caused by camera flash.
  5. Add a full-length body shot. You can increase your response rate by a massive 203% if you provide a good view of your body type with a full length body shot. Additionally, according to the Zoosk dating profile data, daters with a full-body photo also get on average 33% more replies to their messages.
  6. Shun the group photo. According to data from Zoosk, people who use group photos on their profile, in particular as their lead image, get 42% less messages than those who display pictures of just themselves.
  7. Leave out the pets. Regardless of how cute your cat or dog looks, photos of pets are not popular with potential daters. They tend to generate 53% less messages according to dating site Zoosk
  8. Boast about your adventures. Photos that receive the most likes are the candid shots showing you playing sports. According to the dating app Hinge, women with a sports photo are 166% more likely to get a like, while men are 45% more likely to receive one. Duck the beach photo though. Women are 47% less likely to get a like on a beach photo, while men are 80% less likely.
  9. No photo in front of or in your car. You may have a cool set of wheels which is the envy of your friends but in the world of online dating the car or motorbike just doesn’t cut it. These pics result in fewer likes. Keep in mind that daters want to see and connect with you, not with what you drive.
  10. Be creative. Don’t hesitate to try something different. Most people post colour photos so often the black & white photos trend well. They receive on average 106% more likes than their colour counterparts.
  11. What to wear and what not. Block colours work better than busy patterns. Always remember that the focus should be on you and not your clothes. Dark colours such as black are slimming while light colours such as white will make you look bigger. I recently covered this topic in a blog that you can read here.

Tips for Women

So ladies, here are my selection of tips amongst a myriad of recommendations from data made available by researchers at the University of Texas, the Zoosk dating app itself and the all so important Tinder app.

  • Wear a red dress: Although the little black dress is a timeless classic, online profiles tend to favour women who wear red and show a little bit of cleavage. Showing skin is considered attractive and these photos rank 24% better for women in their twenties and 79% better for women in their thirties than those who dress more conservatively. Studies also found that women who look straight at the camera tend to fare better.
  • Pleeeeeease, no pouting pics. No one takes a duckface seriously and let’s face it, if you’re on a dating site you’re probably no longer 16.
  • Use natural makeup. Research also found that 86% of men prefer a woman with light and natural makeup over someone with a profile photo who’s overly made up.

Tips for Men

  • No Shirtless Gym Pic please. This kind of photo won’t actually win you too many matches in online dating. People are searching for a genuine date with a well-rounded life, so these shallow pics can send the wrong signal to whoever you are trying to impress. Ab shots can work but only if you have really nice ones.
  • Look away and show your abs. According to Sam Yagan, CEO of dating site OkCupid, men’s profile pictures trend better when they’re not smiling and looking away from the camera.


The consensus, gathered from several studies and observations by CEO’s of the dating apps themselves, is that you shouldn’t be trying too hard. The best photo should look like one taken by your best friend who just happens to be a fantastic photographer. While there is a trend in Europe for online daters to go to professional photographers for their profile photo, it could come across as a little desperate.

There is a fine balance between a laid back candid photo and one that is obviously trying too hard. If you’re unsure about your photos and want some independent advice, try the website Photofeeler. It is a free platform where you can get unbiased advice on your photos whether they’re for business, social or dating.

Failing all that, reach out to me and let me get the best out of you. I can’t guarantee that you will find your soulmate but I can assure you that you will have a lot of fun.