We live in an Insta-world. Pretty much everyone in the entire western world (and their dog) has an Instagram account, curating and sharing photos of themselves and their life as part of their daily routine.

The good thing about this is that many people are getting more comfortable in front of the camera and (hopefully) have a wider selection of photos to choose from, when it comes to setting up their online dating profile.

The more challenging aspect is that, now we’re living in a visual world, we need to make a much bigger effort with our dating profile pictures in order to have a strong impact online and stand out. This leads into our first tip.

Use good quality photos only.

As we head into 2021, if you’re still planning on using poor quality photos, you might want to ponder this – good quality photos attract good quality dates, while poor quality photos attract, at best, poor quality dates and at worst, no dates.  It’s also worth being aware that good visual content drives up engagement, as all good marketeers know, and engagement with your profile is your primary goal when online dating.

Ditch any misleading photos.

People often mislead and deceive each other on dating apps with the photos they’re using. But this approach rarely ends with a second date. Always make sure your photos are up-to-date (nothing older than 18 months ideally – as you get older, this window should get shorter) and are representative of who you are at the time of dating. Great photos attract attention, authentic ones keep it.

The primary headshot.

Your primary photo should be a classic, well-lit, smiling headshot. You need to come across as warm, attractive and approachable from the get-go. To make it stand out from other profile pictures, avoid neutral colours instead aiming to include some bright colour in the shot, preferably red. Red is the colour of love and passion. When people see red it actually speeds up their heart rate, imitating the feeling of falling in love.

In fact, include bright colour in as many of your profile photos as possible. If you don’t generally wear bright coloured clothes, then make sure you’re searching out clean backdrops with bold colours.

The full body shot

Every dating profile needs to include the full body shot. You only need the one but you do need to include it. People want to see exactly who they are dating and will want to see a full body shot before deciding whether to make contact with you. Superficial? Maybe, but given how easy it can be to be deceived on dating apps, people are wising up. They won’t easily trust a profile without the full body shot, so it’s not worth skipping over this one.

Lose that one photo you’re not 100% sure about

When you’re choosing your 5-6 photos to include at any one time on your profile, make sure you’re confident and happy with every one of them.

People typically scan for the best and worst photos. Their decision, about whether to swipe right or not, often hinges on that worst photo. To improve your chances of increasing the number of matches you’re getting, lose every photo that you’re not entirely happy with. It’s worth being aware that your worst profile photo alone could be losing you matches.

Be the star of your own profile

You only have these 5 or 6 photos with which to make a powerful impact. That’s not a huge number of photos to work with, so make sure you’re the star of every single one.  Hopefully you’ve wised up and are no longer subscribing to the ‘group shots are necessary’ myth.

Groups shots provide too many opportunities for someone to skip ahead to the next profile. They may not like the look of your friends. They may like the look of your best friend a little too much! They may likely get bored of trying to figure out which one you are in the shot. Or they may simply be bored at looking at another set of cookie-cutter profile pictures.

Finally, avoid including babies or kids in your profile photos – especially if they’re not your own. I just don’t think a dating site is a place for children.

Showcase your lifestyle & your personality

The most visually compelling profile photos are the ones that are able to showcase your lifestyle as well as key elements of your personality. People are searching every one of your photos for clues to learn more about you and your lifestyle. It’s more than just seeing how attractive you are. They are figuring out things like where you like to hang out, what kind of clothes you wear, how much money you might have, what kind of life you lead. They want to know if your lives are going to mesh well.

Armed with this knowledge, think about what you want your photos to convey about your lifestyle, your personality and your vibe. Authenticity is key here in order to secure follow on dates.

Share a glimpse of your everyday life. It might be where you like to hang out or what you like to do. Clothes are also a big part of telling people more about who you are. Whether you are fashion-forward, nerdy, outdoorsy, safe, trendy or formal, your clothes can play a big role in sharing your story.

A good rule of thumb is to go somewhere you love, wear something you love, hold something your love and/or do something you love. If you make sure you’re doing at least one of these things in each profile picture, you should ensure that you’re getting your personality across.

Embrace open body language

My one last tip is to ensure you are using open body language in all your photos. In front of the lens, we often feel self-conscious and our instinct is to tense up – crossing arms, making ourselves smaller, making fists with our hands or crossing our legs. Instead channel some confident power poses. Keep your arms and hands open and expressive. Stand up straight and tall. Don’t shrink into yourself. Own the space and exude confidence.

Saskia Nelson is the founder of Hey Tuesday and Hey Saturday, photography agencies that specialize in creating gorgeous, show-stopping profile photos equipping clients to take their online impact to the next level whether for social media, dating profiles or business. A killer profile photo doesn’t just show people what you look like, it tells them what you’re made of. 

To learn more about how Maria and how her team can help you find love, visit here.