The SW Experts | Putting Your Best Image Forward: Online Dating Photos
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Putting Your Best Image Forward: Online Dating Photos

Putting Your Best Image Forward


You never get a second chance to make a first impression. With online dating, doubly so.

Today’s online dating swipe left/swipe right platforms depend upon the photos, even more so than old school apps. We decide at first glance if there’s a possibility.

Fellow SWExpert and professional photographer Laura Gub has some pointers for making sure you put your best foot forward when it comes to online dating.

“When online dating, most of us resume to snaps taken by mates, crops of a larger photo from a party, or our own snaps down with our mobiles. Quick and painless,” she says. “Of course, we see ourselves in a three-dimensional way. We mentally add the missing content. But, all the viewer can see is an us that’s half a shadow or worse, some other person’s golden locks, half ear, decorating the edges of the photo, part of the arm still lingering around our neck.”

Laura notes that daters may hide behind sunglasses in order to come across as easy going and casual or even quirky but “truth is, at the end of the day, this really isn’t Facebook. We would not think of trying to get a job posing in our swimming trunks unless it’s part of the job description. So why do we think we can draw attention with a blur? We all know that the quality of that one portrait is crucial to being noticed by a potential love interest.”

What should get our focus?

Colours: Tones should be balanced, showing the real you with a bit of glamour that can be achieved with light.

Lighting: Ideally, your photo should be taken during the day, as evening shots require using a flash that can wash out your face. An overly sunny day, however, can cause you to squint.

Shadow: Avoid too much shadowing. However, the right shadow may give your face character and edge.

B & W Photos: Look back to the heartthrobs of Hollywood’s Golden Era. Remember the black and white films? The men were handsome and dashing. Women were beautiful and glamourous. Black and white brings the features into focus and makes your photos stand out from the crowd. Make sure that the photo has the right contrast.

Contrast: A clear photo with sharp contrasts is better than a grey blur. If you’re blond, make sure you can still be seen and don’t appear dark-haired.

Eyes: The most important element is the eyes. Look into the camera to draw attention to yourself. Your eyes can start conversations. Your gaze should not come across as a stare.

Smile: We all know how to say, “Cheese!” in front of the camera to avoid forced grins and quivering lips. A smile should not be overdone but rather a ray of sunshine that gently removed tension and brings light to our eyes. Relax your facial muscles and shake your head a bit. Think of a happy memory while acknowledging the presence of the camera without appearing too dreamy or spaced out.

Angle: For most of us, a straight-on Passport photo highlights our imperfections. Shooting at an angle brings out our finest qualities but may not be ideal for the main photo if our face ends up in the corner of an expansive background with our top of head or chin cut off!

Cropping: Our eyes tend to focus on the middle of the photo; everything else becomes peripheral. Avoid cropping a group photo. You can have nature in the background but make sure you are in focus!

There’s a fine balance between too few photos or too many. Some albums contain everything we fancy, our pets, vacation photos. Or there we are in an embrace with a young hot friend. Posting one photo suggests a lack of involvement or confidence but an entire album suggests an over-eagerness and can be a turnoff. If your album features too many photos of travel abroad or partying with friends, daters might think there’s no room for anyone new!

On average about 5 photos should do the trick and it is recommended to update, change a couple of them at least on a monthly basis, to come up in new searches.

Should you hire a professional photographer?

Laura says, “Regarding professional shots,  I suggest to specifically look for dating photographers (a new and emerging trend) as generally all professional photographers  have a defined style and a specialty (portrait, wedding, child, family, landscape photography, etc.), and all would not be suitable to shoot dating photos.

For a glance at what makes dating photography different from other types, visit Laura’s website at

Good luck!


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