The Cold Hard Facts of Online Dating Photos
Almost everyone you know is online dating (whether they want to admit it or not) or knows someone who is. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these people are doing it wrong. Even though the very platforms they are paying explicitly tell them what they need to do to succeed, they tend to ignore them.
Here’s the simple secret, every single platform where you have a profile will tell you that you need online dating photography to get the best chance of success. The very number of people trying dating online is staggering. But you already know that because you know that based on US census data and the Pew Internet Report more than half of the US population has either tried online dating, is online dating, or found their significant other through an online dating site. That’s literally millions of people in just the US alone. Don’t believe me? Here are some stats to fry your brain:
- Pew Research Center found that 66% of online daters have been on at least one date with someone they were matched with. It’s a numbers game — if you’re on a dating site or app with millions of singles, you’re bound to meet at least one person you’d like to get coffee or drinks with.
- Statistic Brain reports that more than 49.7 million Americans have tried online dating, and that’s not far off from how many single people there are in the US: 54.4 million. They note that 20% of current relationships began online, and 17% of couples who married within the last year met on a dating site.
- Linkedin says: “Members with a profile photo on LinkedIn can get up to 21 times more profile views than members without. Get noticed! Find tips for improving your professional image with a profile photo, along with details on background photos, visibility settings, and more.”
According to Forbes, the United States alone has 2,500 dating sites, and about 1,000 new dating sites are launched every year. Thus, you have a lot of choices when it comes to finding the right site that works for you. However, no matter how many sites that spring up and no matter what tiny dating niche they want to target, they all have one thing in common. They all rely on your dating profile photo to get you matched to someone else on the platform. So here’s the thing, most people are doing it wrong because they don’t understand the keys to success.
Online dating at its core is all about marketing yourself effectively to find that special someone who’s meant for you. When you don’t care about your profile photo or written profile you’re effectively setting it up so someone else gets the girlfriend or boyfriend you’re meant to have. You need to take control of the situation and position yourself for successful dating and not just trust dumb luck. After all its proven to work time and time again.
Why Your Photo Matters
Many of these people are blissfully unaware that the success of their online dating is based on the quality of their online dating photography. However, ask yourself; “What’s the first thing people see when they search a dating site?” Answer: hundreds of little thumbnails photos of all of the people that meet a their criteria….and what happens if they don’t like your photo? You don’t get any dates and somebody else ends up dating your boyfriend or girlfriend. So those first photos are pretty damn important for you.
One of the largest online dating sites, eHarmony , breaks it down for you simply; “What matters more than anything when it comes to your online dating profile? One word: Photos. Photos can drastically increase your chances of getting more communication and dates. Or not.” In fact, profiles with photos are nine times more likely to get communication. Use your photos as a primary tool to express who you are, what you love to do, where you love to go and what type of lifestyle you lead.
For a long while people tried to use actor head shots as their online dating photography and then it was selfies ( because they were supposed to be “authentic”) but neither of these two types of photography were exactly right for this new medium of online profile photography. Things had to evolve to get the most out of these dating sites. Unfortunately, it all goes back to marketing yourself and creating your personal brand. Just like every manufacture wants to create a brand for themselves to showcase their products, (they create just the right look and feel through imagery and creative prose), So to do you have to decide if you want to be the Ferrari or the Hyundai?
If you want to learn more about how it works for you, you can read more here
The Evolution of Online Dating Photography
In essence, there’s a brand new category of photography, typically called Online Dating Photography that has grown up with a specific style and flair to essentially help people better market themselves so that they can successfully find dates and build their personal brand. It’s developed as a stylized version of lifestyle mixed with environmental portraiture with a little bit of late 1960’s vogue magazine thrown in for good measure…read a bit of “attitude”. It’s definitely not a selfie. It’s not an actor headshot. Its not a snapshot. It’s not a formal portrait. The style is somewhere in-between with more of of an eye toward lifestyle and maybe even product placement. The important thing is that it’s important because it’s truly your very first impression you make on another individual and they are judging you based on it.
Every major dating site will emphasize just how important a users online dating profile photo is to determining their success with the platform. They go into detail about what exactly makes great dating profile photography. They explicitly reject logos, avatars, pictures of animals or children etc. in favor of a clean crisp photo of the individual. But you’d be surprised at how many people dismiss their advice and then get upset with the platform because they did not find the love of their life!
In an informal ( ie not scientific) analysis of the eHarmony database of subscribers, fully 20% had no photos at all and another 20% had “bad” photos. The best part was that they were surprised that their profiles did not get any responses. In fact, many sites now have a handy dandy filter so that when your reviewing people’s online dating profiles, if they don’t have a photo they immediately get deleted from the search. It’s safe to say that online dating photography has become a the number 1 factor in how successful people are in finding mates. No Photos = no dates and bad photos = bad dates!
Online Dating Photography v Profile Photography
Closely associated with online dating photography is the more general profile photography or online profile photography. As social media and business networking sites like LinkedIn have become prevalent in the job search function we find that 95% of hiring managers will review an applicants LinkedIn profile to make a determination on hiring or promotion. They not only spend time reviewing your past experiences but how you “look“ to see if you come across as professional and “look the part” for whatever position you’re going after. Yes, this can introduce some bias, like the person is too old or too young or a host of other biases, but here’s the thing; these biases are not going to suddenly go away when you walk into the interview so its better to just deal with it upfront. Hiding your profile photo really wont do you any good either since not having a profile photos hurts you more than having one. So , if you can beat the Applicant Tracking System ( ATS) then the next thing that happens is you get a hiring manager looking through your LinkedIn and FB profiles to see if everything “Matches up”. If you want to go down the rabbit hole on how important your profile is to your job search then check this out.
Think about all your social media presence as well, maybe not just Facebook anymore but a host of others, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc etc. Each of them want you to create a profile on their platform, which increases a sense of community and tends to engage people when they see your content or search for you because they can get an impression of you. Some would say that your online profiles are in fact the “first impression” we make on others now rather than meeting in person. Remember, the results are exactly the same since people will subconsciously judge you on your online profile especially your online profile photos. Do you appear poised, confident, smart, “put together” capable? All these attributes are present in a photo of you and something that can be judged by others. This is so prevalent now that there are specific websites that can use AI to judge how your photo will be perceived by others, including perceived age, ethnicity, and attractiveness.
So your best photos aren’t just for dating anymore. The good news is one good photo session can produce all the photos that you need for online dating and even you business and social networks. Most intelligent people will invest in a professional photographer for their online dating photography, LinkedIn and social media. You should think of it as an investment in your future because if you’re being judged across all the social and business spectrum by your photos and profiles then you are going to want to spend time cultivating the right personal brand that will pay off handsomely down the road. How do you want others to perceive you? Does your reputation matter?
These are the key questions to ask yourself. Here’s another way to think about it, every celebrity and politician understands that their photo is a reflection of their personal brand, thus online dating photography is for all intents and purposes celebrity photography. They know how much their photos matter and they have the means to get a professional photographer to follow them around and get the great shots. Now you have that very same access and you need to start taking advantage of it and control your personal brand.
A great professional photographer knows far more than just how to make the camera work, they will know how to get the best out of you too so that you shine through during the shoot. They will know the most flattering light, poses and looks, as well as, how to diminish flaws ( we all have them ) and highlight the rest. Depending on where you live, you should be able to get a photographer that knows and understands dating photography and profile photography for anywhere from $250 – $600 for a simple on-location shoot. I’ve seen the results and the testimonials and it just plain works. If you’re lucky enough to have a pro photographer in the family or as a friend then you know there is a huge difference in what a pro can do.
Conclusion and Some Tips
Regardless, online dating photography has become a robust industry in itself as people realize that to be successful with online dating they need to have a profile photo that will set them apart and get people’s attention. This new photography is a cross between Headshots, classic portraiture and lifestyle or editorial shots. Since most dating websites allow users to designate one of their photos as their “primary profile photo“ and the rest as images in their portfolio; users need to understand the gamut of images they need to provide in order to secure that all important first date.
Truly, most adults in the US and Canada have five online profiles and seven profiles if they are online dating. Usually, one photo shoot a year is sufficient to provide the right images to use across all of an individual’s online profiles. Therefore, the value proposition for a professional online dating photography session is such that spending about an hour a year on producing new images for your profiles can have a significant positive impact on not only your relationships, but your career.
6 Key Factors to Any Successful Online Dating Photography Shoot
1. Make sure the shoot is a “lifestyle“ shoot and not a corporate head shot. Therefore, refrain from using backdrops for solid colors. Much of this can be overcome by simply doing an on location shoot in a park or interesting area nearby. there is no substitute for natural light but when the weather doesn’t cooperate for an on location shoot, don’t worry the light form a window in a studio can be just as dramatic if done correctly.
2. Make sure there’s only one person in the photo, you! Never include anyone else including family, children or pets in your profile photos as studies have shown that it negatively impacts the perception of the image.
3. Dress for the occasion: even if you tend to be casual in nature, casual looks can sometimes equate to sloppy. Therefore, you will want to dress for the occasion. If you take the approach that you want to dress appropriately for your first date you should reflect this in your online dating photos and therefore dress as if you’re going on a “first date“
4. Leave your shirt on: this applies to all genders. This is not the place to show off your abs or tried to be overtly sexy, it always back fires
5. Never use a selfie for two reasons. First, it makes it look like you don’t even have friends that would take a snapshot of you. Second, everyone knows it’s a selfie and the impression is you didn’t even expand enough effort to “try“ to make a good first impression you just “snap something quick on your phone because it was good enough“. When you’re dealing with your career and relationships “good enough“ is never good enough
6. Smile or no smile…that is the question. there have been many debates on this subject particularly for shoots with men. In our experience, nothing beats a great smile as warm and inviting regardless if its for LinkedIn or online dating. You can always shoot a few versions with you smiling and not smiling and judge for yourself
We think that you will agree that online dating photography is the key factor to being a successful online dater and literally setting yourself up for the very best dates. It really is a competition and you need to use all of the tips and tricks to make sure you come out on top whether its for your career of your romantic life.
If you want to learn more or get started finding the right online dating photography for you then click here
About the Author:
Claire Bahn has over 15 years working as a personal branding expert helping clients build authority and influence through their online profiles and social media accounts.
Her background includes branding, public relations, Social Media and marketing, as well as, entrepreneurship. She has a passion to help executives, entrepreneurs and influencers strategize and create their best personal brand.
She is currently the CEO and Co-founder of Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding. Ms. Bahn recognizes that first impressions are made online and the fastest way to achieving your goals is by taking command of your personal brand through your online profiles and social media. She started Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding to help individuals create, maintain and protect their personal brands so that they achieve the authority, influence and trust the need to succeed at online dating or their job search.
She’s been featured in numerous publications and news outlets including Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines.
Ms. Bahn is a former model and actress, appearing in national ad campaigns for major retailers. An avid fashion / lifestyle blogger she’s a recognized influencer. Ms. Bahn holds a BA from University of Texas at Austin, and currently lives in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, CA with her 2 red miniature pinchers, Beau and Trixie.