As an online dating consultant & photographer, I have worked with countless folks here in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as across the country and world to improve their profiles through curating existing photos, providing guidance on which dating photos will help their profile as well as take natural, candid photos of them in everyday settings. 

The recent explosion in online dating has caught many off guard, with little to no etiquette to follow. Unflattering, cringeworthy photos can hurt your chances of meeting that special someone online. If you have spent any time browsing profiles, you will notice a plethora of cringeworthy, weird, creepy photos scattered on many profiles. If you still need help with picking photos, taking photos, take a look at my dating profile critique service here. Read this beginner’s guide to online dating.

Dating Profile Pictures: What Are They, What Photos Should You Use On A Dating Profile? Dating App Profile Tips

Dating pictures are essential in dating profiles. They communicate not only how you look like but signal other items like grooming habits, wardrobe choices, lifestyle, hobbies, interests, who you associate with and what you find interesting or worth sharing with the world around you. These subtle queues can make or break you. Ideally photos reflect how you look today and how you would appear on a date right now. They should be consistent in looks, reflective of your weight, hairstyle, personality and make people want to know more about you.


Dating Profile Photos: What Should Dating Profile Pics Look Like? Dating Profile Tips, Examples, Good Profile Pictures

Online Dating Photo Example


Online Dating Photos: How Important Are Pictures On Dating Apps? Do Looks Matter In Online Dating?

Looks and photos are very important. Most people decide whether to continue browsing a profile or not based on the first, main photo. Photos are needed to get people to read your bio, about me sections and background. Without decent photos, dating apps are not really worth the time or effort. Some dating apps are more superficial than others but using self-sabotaging photos suggests a lack of effort or not being serious about dating. While you don’t need professional portraits for your dating profile, you do need good photos to separate yourself from the competition.


How Many Pictures Do You Need For Your Dating Profile On Hinge, Bumble & Tinder?

4-6 photos are recommended for a dating profile. Yes, some apps require just one photo or allow up to 9-23 photos but that doesn’t mean you should use the bar minimum or maximum. You will be judged by your worst photos so don’t use bad ones. If you don’t use enough, people might think you are a scammer, catfisher. The golden rule of dating photos is that every photo works to show a whole story about you: physique, appearance, lifestyle, grooming patterns, and close up shots. If you use photos that don’t look like you today, you should expect dates to not want to go out on a second date with you.

Good Profile Pics: How To Choose Photos For Online Dating, What Photos To Put On Dating App Profile

Many folks have no idea what their photos signal nor do they understand how their facial expressions, body posture, lighting, outfits and people in their photos can affect how people view them.

Photos make up 90%+ of the decision-making process on whether someone left or right swipes on you. Most folks are judged on their first photo alone and never have their other photos viewed until it’s too late. 

These are my quick and easy tips for what makes a good photo and what makes a bad photo. Remember that photos are not viewed in isolation but also in the context of your bio, prompts and other photos – there are always exceptions to the rules. Also, keep in mind that different apps and sites (like Hinge and Tinder) will have different photo recommendations.

To read up on more detailed information about all things dating photos including what to wear in dating photos, photo order, how to pose for a dating profile, should you hire a professional photographer, should you use photos of your kids in them, dating app photo dimensions, how to look more attractive in your dating photos, read these other posts in my blog.

Below is my list of photos not to put in a dating profile.


10 Worst Dating Photo, Picture Examples To Avoid In Your Profile For Guys & Girls, Bumble, Hinge

1 – Do not post photos with exes. Obvious, but you would be surprised how many people post photos with exes or possible cropped out exes or unlabeled photos of people who can be taken for an ex or current significant other.

2 – Stay away from selfies. Especially gym, car and bathroom selfies. Unless you have an epic selfie on top of a mountain peak, ski lift, or with a celebrity, don’t use them. Keep the floating heads to a minimum (1 max, if that). Selfies can distort your face and make you look wider.

3  Hold off on photos of your kids. It is great you love your children (in fact, it should be understood and doesn’t need to be said) but simply listing you have children (and if they are adults or living at home) in your profile is enough for now. However, if you have a pet, make sure you have a photo of your furry friend.

4 – Avoid profile photos with sunglasses and hats. People want to see your eyes and face. If you must, use one only. Use too many or one as your main profile photo and people might assume you have something to hide i.e. hatfishing.

5 – Avoid group shots unless you specifically mark who you are in the lineup. People don’t want surprises nor switch-a-roo. Definitely don’t use a group photo as your main profile photo.

6 – No duck-faces nor Snapchat filters (no explanation needednor shirtless photos. It’s one thing to capture a photo in the pool at the beach but photos should be candid and natural not staged, obvious nor modeling-esque. Keep it classy, not tacky otherwise you will come off as self-absorbed, desperate, thirsty, narcissistic and gross.

7 – Stay away from photos without you in the photo! This is a dating website, not your portfolio gallery. Photos of a pet, painting, sunset or view offer nothing to suitors. The focus should be on your not someone, something else.

8 – Avoid staged portrait photos and corporate headshots. These are often stiff, lifeless and are easily identifiable as being staged. People will look you up on LinkedIn to get a better look at you so save that photo for something more candid, natural as professional portraits suggest some photoshop or enhancements were made.

9 – Avoid tiny, distant, blurry and dark photos. People want to see you and how you look like, not a silhouette. These photos suggest you are trying to hide something. It’s ok to have one photo like this but keep it to a minimum.

10 – Avoid looking too intense in photos – Not smiling, focusing too hard, ‘intense face’, looking constipated, bloated looks, creepy angles can all signal an uncomfortable feeling to users. Use bright, warm inviting photos. Read this guide for more info on looking too intense.

There are always exceptions to the guidelines above. Using one or two of the above photos will not ruin your chances for success but if most of your photos fall into one of the categories above well you will have a harder time getting people to look past your photos. You want photos that put you in the best light and that represent who you are. Below are my recommendations for the types of photos to put on a dating profile.

Photos that are understated, silly, slightly self-deprecating, candid and invite conversation are recommended. If you still need help with your profile, I offer dating profile critiques for remote clients. You can read more about that here.


Personalized Online Dating Profile Critique

Strategy (App Choice + Timing + First Messages), Photo Critique, Bios + Prompts + Photo Captions, Wardrobe Feedback, Body Language, Smiles & More

10 Best Photo Tips To Post For Online Dating Apps Like Hinge, Bumble For Men & Women; Good Profile Pics

1- Photos of you smiling or laughing . Candid and embarrassing photos are great. It shows you know how to let go, poke fun of yourself and have fun! Authenticity conveys confidence. Not every photo has to show your teeth or have a big smile but approachability is key!

2 – Photos of you doing what you love — do you love dancing? Hiking? Dressing up? Show it! Action shots are great even if they are not super clear photos of you. Environmental photos of places you like to explore or frequent are great!

3 – Ask someone to take a photo of you. It is easier to ask a stranger to take a photo of you while on vacation / touristy place of interest. Additionally, selfies and close proximity photos can distort photos making them wider.

4 – Look for photos online. If there is an event you attended recently (sporting, professional, gala, friend’s party, social event etc.), see if you can find a copy online on social media (Facebook, IG) or event page or photographer page.

5 – Use a variety of shots. 4–6 total photos are ideal (6 are required on dating apps like Hinge) – 1 up close-up, 1 action, 1+ travel, 1 environmental and 1 candid photo can round out your profile.

6 – Use photos that will engage suitors, invite them to inquire about the backstory behind the photo. Where is that view of? What event was this photo taken at? Self-deprecating humor is a sign of confidence when done well.

7 – Label photos with a caption as needed i.e. friends, occasion, location etc. Is that your child? Who is your hot friend? Is that your ex? Your ability to write a captivating caption vs. stating mundane can help make you more interesting. Lack of bios and captions suggests laziness, not that serious or lack of creativity.

8 – Include at least 1 full body photo and show your face. If all your photos are headshots, 1/4 body or from the side, people might assume you have something to hide. Remove doubt by showing your entire body and not just chest up photos. Mix up facial expressions, angles, crops, lighting so it doesn’t look like you took all the photos at once via a professional photographer or timer.

9 – Make sure all photos are recent i.e. 2-3 years old. You should be proud of who you are today and how you look today. If you changed your appearance (lost weight, cut your hair, colored your hair, grown facial hair etc. you might need to update your photos even more quickly than this stated range). You should appear as you would on a first date – keep the surprises to a minimum.

10 – Would you be ok showing these photos to friends, family members or colleagues? Not a perfect test but if you are too shy or embarrassed by your photos to show people around you, what makes you think you should show it to strangers?

Golden Rules of Dating Photos: Make sure all photos offer something different, unique, flattering, and interesting to your profile vs the previous photos. “You are only as attractive as your worst photo.”

MEN: For additional details and insight on how to take better photos for your profile check out this post. Read this post to how to get more matches on dating apps through your photos, prompts, answers, photo captions and more.

Dating App Photos: What Is An Online Dating Headshot? What Is A Dating Portrait?

Online dating headshots are typically the main or first photo in a user’s dating profile. It’s more casual than a business headshot and is typically cropped from other photos similar to that of other headshots cropped slightly above the head and just below the shoulders.

With the growth of online dating, individuals are hiring professional photographers to help with their dating profiles. It’s important to know that portrait photographers make for bad dating profile photos.

How Many Photos Should You Post To Your Dating Profile? How Many Photos Should You Put On Bumble, Hinge, Match, Tinder?

A minimum of 4 photos are recommended regardless of the maximum allow on dating apps. 6 is generally better and usually the max on apps like Hinge but for dating sites like, never post more than 6. Most people post awful photos and the old saying is true: “You are only attractive as your worst photo”. Even though apps like Tinder offer 9 slots and Match 26, you shouldn’t fill up the slots unless you have great, epic photos. 


Should You Look Directly At The Camera or Should You Look Away From The Camera In Photos?


What Are The Best Pictures For Online Dating? What Are Examples Of Good Profile Pics?


What Kind Of Pictures Should I Put On Hinge, Bumble and Tinder?

That depends on what you seek and whom you want to attract. If you are looking for something casual or serious, want to attract someone super driven and career focused vs more well-rounded. If you need help with your profile, contact me today for a dating profile consultation.


Dating App Pictures: What Should I Wear For Online Dating Photos?


Dating Pictures: Retouching / Photo-Editing Etiquette

Photos should reflect how you would appear on a first date to your match.

Yes – lightening, cropping, reducing shadows, saturation (lightly), temporary blemishes (pimple, scratch).

No – softening skin, removing wrinkles, filters, permanent redness skin, moles, birthmarks.


Online Dating Photos: Are Selfies Good For Dating Apps?

No, they suggest lack of social circles or distrust in others to take photos for you. Using one is fine especially if it’s an epic photo i.e. travel, with a celebrity or something organic and candid but using boring ones with no conversation starters are not recommended.


Dating Profile Photos: How To Upload Photos To A Dating Profile

It varies by app but most dating sites require you to upload photos from the app (via your phone), allow you to upload photos from your desktop or allow you to use photos from Facebook or other social media sites through a login sync and permission granting.


Can You Change Your Bumble Photos, Hinge Photos?

Yes, just simply delete the photos or add new photos to replace the existing photos you have.


Should You Caption Hinge Photos? 

Yes, absolutely, but only if you have something interesting, insightful or witty to say. Stating something obvious or boring can actually hurt you.


Can You Write Your Own Captions On Hinge? How Do You Add Captions On Hinge?

Click edit photo and tap the three lines in the top left part of the photo. There you will have the opportunity to add a location and or description.


Pictures With Friends On Dating Profile: Group Photo Dating Site Picture Recommendations

These are fine, just don’t use one as your main profile, limit to 1-2 group photos, avoid ambiguous photos where you can’t tell who you are and avoid photos with significantly hotter women as guys will fixate on that (cheerleader effect does not work on dating apps).


No Pictures For Dating Profile

If you don’t have photos, don’t bother using dating apps. You are not ready, people will think you are a spammer or bot.


What Are The Best Pictures For Online Dating? What Are The Best Photos For Dating Apps?

Read this post.


Should You Have Group Photos On Dating Apps? Can You Put Pictures With Friends On Dating Sites?

Yes, you can and you absolutely should however, the main selling point should be you. Avoid using group photos in your main photos and avoid cropping too many of your group photos as they can remove talking points from the background or location. If you do use group photos, men should try to minimize photos with taller guys and people should avoid photos with significantly more attractive friends. Limit group photos to 1-2 in a profile of 4-6 photos. 


How To Create A Good Dating Profile That Stands Out (Men, Women, Hinge, Bumble & More) 

More Online Dating Photos Tips, Profile Picture Ideas, How To Pick Photos For Dating Profile, Best Profile Pictures

Ways To Improve Composition of Photos (angles, poses, lighting).

How To Become More Photogenic In Photos

How To Look More Attractive In Your Dating Photos

The Most Cliche, Overly Used And Boring Dating Photos To Use In Your Dating Profile

How To Be Successful With Online Dating

Using Selfies On Dating App Profiles

Online Help For Selecting Photos For Dating Profile (Why You Shouldn’t Ask Friends For Help)

Best Tinder Profile Photos 

What Do Your Dating Profile Photos Signal

The Best Photos For Your Dating Profile – Men & Women


Personalized Online Dating Profile Critique

Strategy (App Choice + Timing + First Messages), Photo Critique, Bios + Prompts + Photo Captions, Wardrobe Feedback, Body Language, Smiles & More

Testimonial From A Client Who Hired Another Photographer And Had Lackluster Results

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, 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, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

Dating App FAQ's  |  Online Dating Resource Guide  |  How To Be Successful With Dating Apps

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