Tips On How To Look Your Best, Naturally: How To Pose, What To Wear, How To Smile & How To Take Good Photos For Dating Apps

If you have spent any amount of time on dating apps you will notice a common theme of self-sabotaging photos stemming from bad lighting, photos taken from weird top down angles, excessive filters, weird facial expressions, dark/distant photos and cringeworthy selfies.

Not everyone is an Instagram model (nor should they be) but first impressions are everything on dating apps and I estimate 90% of the decision to advance past the first roadblock of online dating is using good, flattering photos. Your dating photos do not have to (and should not) be professionally taken, possess blurred (bokeh) backgrounds, captured in studios, look reminiscent of LinkedIn headshots nor look like awful stock photos.

So if you avoid professional photographers and quick, lazy and easy selfies, what other options are there? Well you have come to the right place. Taking good, flattering photos (like all things in life) requires patience, practice and knowledge of the characteristics of what makes for a good photo.

Those people who post excessive photos of themselves on Instagram not only are processionals (I use this term loosely) but what you see is a single shot from a likely lengthy photoshoot.

Some people are better at taking photos more easily than others. It may be due to lots of practice, a talented photographer or natural looks. Regardless of the reason, everyone has the ability to improve their appearance in photos naturally with a few easy steps.

Be sure to read this intro primer on dating photos too:

Lighting, Camera Flash For Photos

One of the easiest things to control about quality of a photo is lighting. Good lighting can soften skin, provide a warm, radiant touch to your skin making it easier to smile and most importantly reveal yourself clearly to suitors.

Bad lighting can make your skin appear oily, make you squint too much if the light is too harsh and most importantly cause you to develop shadows around the eyes aka raccoon or panda eyes. Bad lighting can also hide any details of the backgrounds and environments making it harder to identify and thus eliminating another opportunity for a conversation starter. Dark photos are also associated with creepy behavior and looks, particularly for guys.

The best thing to look for when it comes to lighting is that is light enough to brighten your appearance but not too harsh to adjust contrast of your skin nor lose detail in the backgrounds. Aim to shoot on cloudy and overcast days (more even lighting) and plan for photos around sunrise and sunset aka golden hour. When it comes to camera flashes, NEVER USE FLASH. Use a nighttime mode which requires more skill and patience but provide more even lighting.

Why Do I Look Better In The Mirror Than In Photos

Mirrors tend to be accompanied by better lighting, eve level views, enough distance and perpendicular angles. Photos with camera flashes and sunlight create harsh shadows, photos taken at proximity distort photos (make them wider), selfies are hard to take because of not knowing where to look (it takes effort to focus, relax and pose and click the shutter!).

The other thing to consider is that we are harsh critics. People often look more attractive to others than they do themselves. Yes, many people take bad photos but that can be fixed. Bad photos yield a bad position from which to take future photos (doubt, uncertainty, self-consciousness etc.). Having someone take your photo that knows how to pose, can give you tips on wardrobe, knows flattering angles and can put you at ease is invaluable.

Good Backgrounds For Dating App Photos

Backgrounds and environments make for great conversation starters on profiles especially bars, restaurants, cafés, travel destinations, hikes and views. Similarly, photos taken in the bedroom or hallway of your home can be a bit creepy especially with unflattering lighting and suggest you don’t have a social circle to help you take photos.

Best Poses For Dating Profile Photos

The way you pose should reflect a balance of confidence and approachability. Many people lack the ability to look comfortable in their own skin which is arguably the most attractive look out there. Make sure you are not slouching, your back is straight but not stiff, your hands are not just hanging out and the frame does not look like a stock photo out of the JC Penny portrait studio catalog.

Don’t let your head sink into your shoulders – relax them a bit. Stick your chest out a little. You want your body to come towards the camera. Placing weight on the balls (front) of your feet helps with creating flattering angles (also helps when you are learning to salsa dance). Don’t rotate your face away from the camera (it makes it appear that the camera is scared of you). Most poses should not deviate more than 20 degrees away from the camera.

Flattering Angles For Photos

You should aim to take photos at normal levels i.e. eye level. Occasionally you can deviate slightly below or above but when done too closely, it is obvious you are trying to slim your appearance and mislead people or you risk taking an unflattering photo from below the chin. Taking photos from below the chin may reveal double chins or flabby skin that doesn’t look good.

Wardrobe For Dating Profile Photos

Your photos should illustrate some versatility in your lifestyle, wardrobe and appearance. Using all business suits is ok if you want to come off rigid, financially well off and very busy but most folks want to show some layers to their personality.

Similarly, wearing all t-shirt and hoodies in our photos might suggest your fashion sense peaked in college and that you never bother to dress up. Your sense of fashion can complement good photos making you much more likely to stand out from the competition.

One thing to keep in mind is to keep your attire relevant and balanced to your location and environment i.e. black tie affair at social gatherings, bathing suit at the beach, work out attire on the trail, business casual at a happy hour. If you are overly dressed up or underdressed that can set off a red flag to those viewing your profile.

In addition to style, make sure your clothing fits, is ironed and complements your skin/hair. Guys are notorious for wearing clothing too large and women too small. Knowing which colors complement your skin and hair can add notch to your attractiveness (clients of mine receive direction on clothing during their photoshoot consultation).

More information here

Should I Smile In My Dating Photos

Smile! Smile! Smile! Many people lack energy i.e. DMV headshots or look like a criminal i.e. mugshot. You need to learn to smile but note all smiles are not the same. Smiling varies from person to person and some look better with full smiles showing teeth while others should use contained smiles and smirks to minimize gums being shown and reduce wrinkles around the face.

Avoid puckering up, intense looks, duck faces and other childish, immature looks. “You attract who you are not what you seek.”

Should I Use Selfies In My Dating Profile

Avoid taking selfies at all costs. One selfie is ok to use if you are on an epic location or travel destination or posing with some amazing creature but typically selfies are highly unflattering for a variety of reasons.

Selfies are usually taken at proximity which distorts images (making them wide). If you must take a selfie, use the back camera (harder to pull off be provides more distance between you and the screen and it is a better camera lens than the front facing camera).

Excessive selfies on a dating profile can suggest lack of friends and a lack self-consciousness. Everyone takes bad photos all the time but that is why there is practically free digital storage.

Next Read: How To Get More Likes & Matches On Dating Apps

Popular Read: What Do Your Dating Photos Signal?

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Conversations  & Dating: Etiquette Guide For Communication, Date Ideas & More

Dating App Comparison: Best Dating Apps For You – Hinge vs Bumble vs Coffee Meets Bagel vs Okcupid & More

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

Dating Profile Critique

For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.

For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice:

Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More):

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