Looking for love? It should come as no surprise that your dating profile photo can have a huge impact on your chances of finding love—or a hookup, no judgment here.
First impressions are almost always digital these days, and that kind of pressure can make it hard to choose the perfect pic. Of course you want to look good (don’t we all?) but you don’t want to oversell yourself, either.
So how can you look your best while still looking like … you? Try these 15 tips to do flattering dating photography that will get you more DMs.
Put some distance between you and the camera
I love a good selfie, but it may not be the most flattering option for your dating profile pic, especially if you’re using the front-facing camera. Who wants to see your arm off to the side in every photo?
Try to put some distance between yourself and the camera. Use a tripod if you have one, or prop your phone up using whatever objects you have available. That might mean using books, boxes, or a shelf to find a flattering angle.
Another option is to ask your friends to take a candid photo of you. You might be surprised at how good they come out! Ask them to take realistic, everyday shots. A candid shot is more unique and will stand out—plus it gives more insight into your personality.
If you absolutely have to take your dating pic selfie-style, hold your arm as far away as you can. You can always use Facetune, which works as a de-facto Tinder photo editor (or whichever dating app you use) to crop your arm out of the pic or adjust the lighting.
Get the angle right
Your camera should be slightly above eye level—this is the most universally flattering angle. Too high, and it makes your head look small and weird. Too low, and you risk giving yourself the dreaded double chin.
You can also tilt your head forward and down just a little. This brings your forehead a bit closer to the camera and helps accentuate your jawline.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most of us have a “good” side. If you can’t figure out what yours is, it’s probably your left. Studies have shown that people tend to prefer the left side of someone’s face.
P.S. If you aren’t sure which angle looks best, try changing up your dating profile pic to see which image gets you the most matches. It sounds weird, but it will help you find the pics that potential dates love!
Use indirect lighting
I love ring lights, but sometimes their direct light can be a bit much. Go for soft, indirect lighting to do classier dating photography.
Natural lighting is best, so if the weather cooperates, then try heading outside to snap a few shots. The best time of day is either during sunrise or sunset (the “golden hour”), but you can also try taking your pictures on an overcast day or in the shadow of a building.
If you’re taking your photos inside, make sure the room has soft lighting. No one looks good under harsh fluorescent lights. Snap a pic in front of a sunny window covered by a curtain for a softer look.
And whatever you do, avoid using flash on your phone! Not only will it highlight imperfections, but it can also make you look older … and not in a good way.
Leave the sunglasses off
Sure, sunglasses are trendy, but people want to see what you really look like. In fact, a study by PhotoFeeler showed that people with sunglasses are perceived as less likable. Ouch.
Potential dates want to be able to see your eyes because it’s an indicator of how trustworthy you are. You might love the look of your Ray-Bans, but trust me: your gorgeous eyes will do all of the talking.
With that said, if you have a photo of yourself rocking sunglasses and you absolutely love it, you can add it to your picture gallery—just don’t use it as your main profile pic.
Relax your eyes
The eyes may be the window to the soul, but people do some crazy stuff with their eyes when they’re getting their picture taken!
The main thing here is to R-E-L-A-X. If you shut your eyes too tightly, it’s going to be hard to gauge your personality.
Some people take squinting too far. You might feel like it makes you look mysterious, but most of the time you just look angry, which is not the look you want for a dating profile pic! It also creates more creases around the eye, which probably isn’t what you’re going for.
Of course, you don’t want to open your eyes too much. The last thing you want is to become the next “Overly Attached Girlfriend” meme. Keep your eyes relaxed; you can squint a little by bringing your lower eyelids up slightly.
Show off those pearly whites
I know smiling for the camera can feel awkward, but a smile can do wonders for your dating life. Smiling makes you look more approachable and friendly, so if you want more folks to swipe right, whip out your 24 karat smile.
When you smile, make sure you show your teeth a bit. A tight-lipped smile just doesn’t look genuine. If you’re self-conscious about your teeth, you can always whiten your teeth in photos with just a click of the button.
Go for some color
Blacks, grays, and dark blue tones can come across as a bit gloomy or intense, especially if those are the only colors you’re wearing. Pick a few outfits in a variety of colors for your dating profile pics. Jewel tones and pastels can brighten a picture and make you look more lighthearted and fun.
Now, if you really want to catch people’s attention, wear red. Multiple studies have shown that both men and women find people wearing the color red more attractive.
Plus, you’ll stand out from all the other people wearing beige or gray—and there are a lot of them. Tinder analyzed 12,000 photos and found 56% of women and 72% of men wear neutral colors. So go ahead—throw on that cute red top and strut your stuff like the superstar you are.
Crop the photo correctly
Your face is gorgeous, but you probably don’t want your face to fill the entire frame. Ideally, you should take up only 60 - 70% of the frame in any dating profile pic. Try to get your shoulders in the frame and don’t be afraid to throw in one or two full-body pics in your gallery, too.
If you want to use a travel photo because it has some crazy, epic background, you can totally do that. Just make sure you’re still taking up about 20-40% of the picture. Yes, the Grand Canyon is spectacular, but people want to see you!
Be aware of your background
Speaking of backgrounds, you’ll need to pay close attention to that, too. I’m not going to judge your messy room, but potential dates on Tinder might. At the very least, try to pose in front of a clean spot in your apartment.
You can take this a step further and add a few things into the background to hint at your interests. A strategically-placed telescope or a framed painting can give potential dates insight into your personality.
(And for the love of all that is good in this world, avoid bathroom pics. They’re usually not as flattering as you think and they’re definitely cliché.)
Stick to current photos
No matter how much you love that picture of you at the beach from 2016, keep it out of your dating profile. Sure, we all wish we could rewind the clock every now and then, but it’s best to show off the real you. Try your best to stick with photos that are less than a year old.
And in case you need to be reminded: the “you” from today is just as amazing (if not more) than the “you” from years past. I promise.
Use casual pictures
I hate to be the one to say it, but if you’re super dressed up in all of your photos, it could raise your dates’ expectations a bit too much.
And I know what you’re going to say: “But I looked amaaaazing at my friend’s wedding!” I totally get it.
But when it comes to dating photography, you want to make sure you can recreate the look in the pictures that you post. These pics should look like the real, every day you. Save the fancy photos for your social media.
Skip the group photos
A lot of people like to include group photos in their dating profile pictures, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. Sure, group photos can show your social side—and that’s important—but your profile pic isn’t the place to do it.
In the fast-paced dating world of swiping left and right, people simply don’t want to take the time to figure out who you are in the pic. You’ve only got about 1-3 seconds to capture their attention, and a group photo is just too confusing.
Do you have any hobbies that define who you are? Don’t be afraid to feature them in your profile pic! If you’re a photographer, hold your camera or wear it slung around your neck. If you’re an artist, playfully wave a paintbrush toward the camera.
When you’re doing something that you truly enjoy, it shows. These fun, casual pictures give people a sneak peek at the real you that goes way beyond a simple headshot.
Just don’t fake it—if your profile pic shows you strumming a guitar, someone will probably ask you to play it at some point. Make sure you can follow through!
Have someone else choose your dating profile pic
Most of the time we’re pretty good at choosing pics for dating photography that showcase our best qualities. But hey, sometimes we get it wrong. We’re just too familiar with our own appearance and personality. This can lead to a bias that someone who’s never met you may not have.
Translation: a picture that you think is perfect might give off a different impression to someone who doesn’t know you. Remember, it only takes a few seconds for a stranger to determine whether they want to get to know you better.
You can always have a trusted friend choose your photo, but if you want honest feedback from someone’s first impression, try using a photo testing site like DATEnhance.
Use Facetune to spruce up your pics
Don’t stress about getting every.little.thing right. Have fun with your dating pics! Remember, the more relaxed you are, the more appealing your photos will be. And you can always make tweaks to your photos after the fact using Facetune. You can fix lighting issues, brighten your eyes, smooth your skin, and so much more.
Having an app like Facetune (literally) in your back pocket can give you the confidence to know you’ll look great in any photo. And nothing is sexier than confidence!
Up your dating game
Following these 15 photography tips for dating will give you plenty of flattering photos to choose from. And don’t be shy about taking lots of pictures—the more, the merrier. You’ll want to settle on 4 - 6 photos with different outfits, looks, and poses to feature in your dating photo gallery.
Remember that the goal isn’t to look perfect—it’s to look perfectly you. Facetune is here to help you add the perfect finishing touch to any pic.