Some people argue that your photos are the most important part of your online profile and (surprise, surprise) we here at Three Day Rule tend to agree. That’s because as humans, we have a tendency to make snap decisions. We see a piece of information in front of us, and we decided how to act – it’s just human nature. And when there’s a visual, we react to that first. So, if your profile is a combination of visuals (your photos) and words, no matter what, the photos come first. People are coming to conclusions about you just by looking at your photos, and whether or not that’s a good thing, there’s a lot of data that suggests that your photos simply matter most.
When discussing online dating photos, many people will say “it’s all about attraction” or “humans are sexual creatures,” and they get discouraged, because of course not all of us are professional models. But in my opinion, I don’t think pure physical attraction is why photos matter. As I’m sure you know, photos themselves aren’t the best representation of what you’re actually attracted to in real life – but in online dating, your potential mates are dealing with limited information. They only know what they know, and photos are the best bet for determining whether they like someone.
Your job is to use your photos to increase the amount of decision-making information they have. Your photos provide information about you, and not just about your looks. So use photos to your advantage, not to your disadvantage.
So what photos do you use? The five shots you need are as follows:
1. Clear headshot
Your profile picture should be a headshot, so they can see your face up close. You don’t need a professional headshot or anything, but this photo is about seeing what someone really looks like. A couple pointers – don’t wear sunglasses, and don’t wear hats. You might think these things make you look cool, but if he or she isn’t clear what you look like, they will move on. And SMILE! Smiles and kind eyes are always better than pouts and duckface. It also shouldn’t be the very best photo you’ve ever taken because you want it to actually look like you. I used to tell people to include their favorite photo, but then I realized that, especially now, those photos can be filtered and photoshopped beyond belief. Mine below certainly is! You want the person you’re potentially meeting up with in person to recognize you when you show up, don’t you?
2. Full body
The second is a full body photo. This is really quite important. Data from Match and OkCupid show that if someone doesn’t have a full body photo, they are less likely to get messaged. Have a cute, accurate photo of your body, how it looks now, and it will help in the long run. This one is especially important to have a recent photo. Your weight, hair color, beard, and even your style can change every six months or so, so keep this one up to date and accurate. It is not fair to use an old photo even though you were ten lbs lighter. You’re only hurting yourself. It’s ok if you’re not entirely confident in your body – you don’t have to wear a bikini! – but if you want to eventually meet someone in real life, this is going to be a consideration.
3. Social photo
Next up is your social photo. What does that mean? It’s just a photo that shows you’re social! A photo at a birthday party perhaps, or with friends. Here’s the important part – they have to be able to tell who you are. Don’t include photos with too many people, or where you can’t really be seen, or it’s a wasted opportunity, but your social photo should convey that you like to have fun. It’s really just a “check box” that you’re not a crazed loner, but make sure you’re using this photo to your advantage too.
4. Charismatic photo
The fourth photo I like to have is the Charismatic photo. Think of this as your chance to really show off your personality, your fun side. It shows that you’re actually fun to be on a date with and aren’t too uptight. Don’t be doing anything too crazy, and make sure it’s still flattering.
5. Conversation starter photo
The last one is an activity photo – the conversation starter – something showing you doing something you like to do. Maybe that’s rock climbing, or maybe that’s painting, but you should think about including something that makes you unique. No matter what it is, it should provoke a question. Why were you on stage at the improv? When were you in Paris? How often do you play badminton? If you have pets, maybe include them there too! If going to the dog park is an important activity for you, let that be known! These are questions that are great first messages, and really get a conversation going.
Overall, your photos should tell a story of who you are – someone should look at those five or six photos and get excited to meet you. Think of it as visual storytelling, and it’ll be more fun. Many people ask me what order their photos should be in, and there’s a pretty standard answer. The most important are the first two – the clear face shot should be your first photo, your main photo, and your full body shot should be your second. Other than that, the others are less important, but I think to keep them in this order when I can. And again, don’t use too few or too many photos – be thoughtful about it. Five to seven photos is a good bet. If you have questions about photos, you can always ask your matchmaker!