Photo Impressions

After years of on-line Internet searching for the perfect mate, I can honestly say I see a pattern in the thousands of profiles, especially in the photos that men post. We may be able to write very articulate content or content with horrible typing and not one word spelled correctly, but let's face it, a picture is worth a thousand words. Guys, take it from a woman, these are the things that don't impress us, even though you post them with the intent of sweeping us off our feet. Of course, I'm speaking about the mainline dating sites that monitor the pictures that are posted and only allow clean photos.

We all know the old saying, "A picture says a thousand words." But when it comes to dating sites, quite often the pictures I find say nothing but, "Back away.... back away NOW!" I've spent many hours scanning through endless pages of profiles and pictures, looking for that special someone, so I feel more than qualified to share my views on this matter.
We all want to put our best foot forward and find someone that we can, not only share our lives, our hopes and our dreams with, but someone who can hold a conversation.

No photo
A picture-less profile to me is like a red flag on a red stick, waved by a chorus of red-painted people all freakishly dancing around a red-hot fire while hypnotically chanting "She's probably heinous, in a committed relationship or enjoys howling at a full moon, don't do it".

A lot of online dating sites stress the importance of pictures in profiles and strongly recommend them, and rightfully so. In my opinion the only two real reasons why people keep their profiles picture less are fear of someone recognizing them or you just feel that looks shouldn’t matter. You need to know that leaving your photo space blank drastically reduces your appeal in the online dating community. Many people will simply not respond to profiles that do not have photos posted; besides there’s way too many fish in the sea so why bother with the faceless ones?

In the past I have personally tried to be not discriminative against non-photo profiles and none of these attempts worked out. It is hard enough to make a judgment of a profile with pictures in them let alone a guessing game with those black boxes.

Your photo isn’t merely meant to help people judge how attractive you are. Your profile photo really is a sneak peek into your personality.  The way you smile, the types of photos you choose, where your photos were taken. . .all of these things give potential matches a glimpse into your true personality.  If someone visits your profile and finds no photo there, they feel as though they only know you halfway. With that in mind, how you can hope to hold someone’s attention when there are millions of other daters out there who will reveal their true selves, photos and all?

There are no positive aspects to not having a profile photo and this is unlikely to find you a date. If you are simply concerned about who may see you are registered with an online dating site (e. g. work colleagues or your children) then join a site that allows you to hide your photo and only share it with people you accept as friends.

Posting a profile picture also helps you ensure that whomever you contact will be comfortable interacting with you.  When someone has posted a few photos of herself online, getting a message from a faceless person will give her the heebie-jeebies.  She’s put herself out there; it’s not fair to ask her to communicate with a masked entity.

So in nutshell I would strongly recommend not spending much time with profiles without photos. Most probably it will not be worth your time and effort. E-dating Experts don’t recommend responding to anyone who refuses to post or send a photo.

A Headshot is a must-have.
It’s vitally important that your main profile picture should always be one where your face and shoulders are showing clearly. Isn’t it human nature to want to see someone face, and surly is one of the main things that convinces a man or woman to approach another as a potential cyber-suitor.

Your main picture should be the most engaging so make sure you’re smiling, with eyes wide open and looking at the camera. And it’s remember guys it’s not a picture of you with some blonde’s shoulder cut off, it’s a picture of your head, without anything else in the way of distractions. This means no sunglasses, hats, or ski masks. By avoiding these unnecessary accessories it will make your matches feel like you’re looking directly at them.  Look posting a picture taken from across the street or worse still, you’re an outline of a person sitting at the bar, with drinks or cigarette in hand are a quick way to give the other person the wrong impression. It may have been the first time you've been in a bar in years, but they might think it’s your second home  - this will certainly defeat the object. 

The bottom line is that nature we all want to see your face. We’ll ask ourselves whether you have a face we can trust. Put quite simply: you want to convince us that not only will you not chop us into pieces and bury us in your flower garden but that you will also not stand us up, make fun of our grandma, or sleep with our best friend (but if you do in fact have a flower garden, you get some extra points there for being a modern male).

Can we glean all of this from a head shot? Well, we give it a shot. We are very intuitive creatures. Word of warning though, if you only include an array of headshot pictures, it will certainly look as if you’re hiding something. Women will wonder, ‘What does this person look like below the neck?’” So whether you take pride in your physique or you don’t, there is no point in hiding it. Typically people who only post pictures of headshot photographs can suggest that they are insecure about their body. Sometimes these insecurities are unjustified. However, most of the time, unfortunately, they are not.

Showing only your face on the dating site to only later see that look of disappointment on a woman’s face when she meets you face-to-face is going to hurt much more and waste much more of both of your time than allowing women to see your body at the outset of your online communication. There is no reason for you to hide the shape of your body, and the sooner ladies see who she is talking to, the better. Therefore your best bet is to always include a full body shot among your secondary photos. Combined, these photos will leave little of your looks to guesswork, which puts many an online dater at ease and makes them more apt to get in touch.

So, include the best face shot you have, you might not get a second chance

But remember the reverse is also true when you’re looking at women’s pictures. Most popular dating sites will give the option of having the user indicate their body type in their profile; most female users will indicate that they are athletic. Which may encompass a wide variety of potential body types just so you know? Women may also choose to leave this category blank. This is a potential sign that they might be hiding something that isn’t pleasant to the common eye! But nevertheless dating profiles are not known for their accuracy and truthfulness; most dating profiles seem to fit the criteria for admission into Fantasy Land!

It's common for a person creating an online dating profile to embellish, to skirt the edges of reality, and to modify or "sweeten" up certain personal or physical areas that they deem lacking. For example, a person who is on the larger side may use the following "code words" to describe their physicality: generously proportioned, curvy, thick, not skinny, and a little extra padding. Words like Obese, fat, and severely overweight don't seem to be part of internet dating profile lexicon. Not to poke fun at anybody, but the bottom line is this: fat is fat, skinny is skinny, tall is tall, and short is short. Be wary of ads that are fuzzy or shady or use oblique, indirect-sounding words.

Smile like you care
Some of the photos I see online amaze me; for example, a photo of someone scowling, frowning, and looking bored or depressed. These set a negative tone. A straightforward smiling pose is best.

You really shouldn't go for a somber look, just a nice relaxed natural smile. Have someone tell you your favorite joke or tickle you right before the picture. People notice the fake and the pouty. Make them exited by that smile to continue reading your profile.

The best head shot may not make a relationship, but it will help excite that person to want to know you better than they already do. Even those of us that hate our picture taken can come out great with just a couple of quick steps and relaxation.

The Fluent-in-Sign-Language Shot.
Hey, guys, I know you don't know where to put your hands, but please do not put them in front of your body doing any of the following: one thumb up, two thumbs up, pointing at the guy next to you with a fake-pensive look on your face, making a "Who me?" gesture, making mock gang symbols, or demonstrating the Shocker.

Pulling silly or unnatural faces for your photos, simply doesn’t work. Everyone would agree that a good sense of humor is a great character trait to possess, but, when it comes to your photo, being more serious is well advised.

Not too close-up.
You don’t need to show us your wisdom teeth, but don’t use a picture of you waving from off in the distance. Full body shots are no good for this either – you can show your figure off in the additional picture section, where they won’t be cropped down to icon size. For now, choose something that shows your face. Hair, eyes, chin, neck, these should all be visible.

The Ex
This seems like a no-brainer, but many people under-estimate the long time it usually takes to get over someone. This is a predictable killer to a budding romance. No one wants to feel like a third wheel, and people don't want to feel there's an unwinnable competition for their love interests.

Therefore displaying a photo of you with a beaming smile, female arm around you or worse still you standing extremely close to a woman and then cropping her out, but guess what?  We can still see her dress, her hair and the way your arms are wrapped around her waist.  Absolute suicide! No woman is going to want a man who posts photographs of himself and his ex on a dating site - so tacky and in poor taste.

People are looking for someone to start something new with; they don't want to see your old girlfriend or ex wife in the picture there with you! It also gives off a feeling that you're not quite over the ex if you're still using pictures with the two of you in them. And if you're not over the last relationship, no one will want to start a new one with you. Besides most women would immediately compare themselves to the woman in the photo and it may just put them off contacting you or responding to your contact.

Keeping your clothes on
Dating, both online and off is about playing to your strengths, and it should be no different for men with muscles, and women with curves, even if the classic pose is kind of hard to take:

It's not a good idea to include a picture of yourself without your shirt on (even if you have a hot bod) unless you're seeking a strictly sexual relationship. I think men would love to see a photo of a woman without her top on - but I do not think that would be at all proper. Men would not be interested in a relationship with a woman who poses topless. A thirty minute relationship might be okay though.

The Insecurity Crop.
Most people aren't looking for a perfect body; they would, however, like to know what your body is like before they meet you. A super-close shot of someone's face usually says as much about how insecure they are as it does about how hot they are.

Unless you are joining an adult dating site then just don’t do it, it isn’t attractive even if you have a six pack. Yes of course women look and will probably find it sexy but it is very hard to take a man seriously that feels the need to display his chest. If you have a six pack then wear a tight t-shirt and leave something to the imagination.

Pictures of you naked, or even semi-naked.
I'm glad that you're proud of your body, really I am. But do you really need to upload it for all to see? If you're putting pictures up onto a dating site of you wearing something that leaves absolutely NOTHING to the imagination, just remember those photos are going to go a lot further than just that site. Anyone can do whatever they want with the photos you put up! Remember, it's called the WORLD WIDE web for a reason. Besides, the kind of people that are going to respond to pictures like that will most likely be happy with just the picture for company, never mind a real date. There are specific sites for "hooking-up," so leave your Playboy audition shots out of the mainstream.

I know that it goes without saying that uploading naked pictures of yourself is a very bad idea (it does go without saying, right?) Any pictures with plenty of skin showing can work against you, even if they are nor sexual in nature. Bikini shots, Speedo shots, just-out-of-the-shower shots or any photos where you are blatantly more naked than not are going to make people think that you are offering sex. Obviously, if you’re dating on a sex site a different set of rules apply - in all other sites, think hard before using your physical assets as your main selling point.

The Cleavage Shot
There are no clear myths associated with showing cleavage in your picture. Most “experts” recommend you don’t, but everyone knows that breasts get attention, so to treat that recommendation as a “myth” would be disingenuous. But since the Cleavage Shot is the feminine analogue of the Ab Shot, and an undisputed online dating archetype, we thought we should discuss it.

Like the Ab Shot, the Cleavage Shot is very successful, drawing 12.9 new contacts per month, or 49% more than average. But unlike the Abs Shot, this positive effect actually trends against the effects of age.

I have seen far too many profiles of women where the text spoke about wanting to find a serious relationship but the photo showed mostly cleavage.

Men definitely cant wear such things as mini-skirts or thongs, but they can definitely wear tighter clothing. This may not be for anyone, but for those who have great physiques - this is a sure-fire way to attract some positive attention. Don’t be shy! However
Do not include a purely posed topless photo - make any bare body shots seem natural and always smile.

If you have a photograph of yourself you really like that is topless, make sure you are smiling in these pictures and perhaps doing something else. Don’t make it seem like you’re posing for the camera.  If you are truly good looking you may intimidate others that do not know you. These types of topless pictures should not be self-portraits. Maybe a day at the beach with your friends?  A pool party?
My personal outlook on the way I look is to simply be free of body consciousness but to develop my own integral vision. Ok in plain English and simply put, if you are fit, then show it off!

The downside of this is that unfortunately some women browsing your profile don’t necessarily want to see what all of you looks like… or at least not just yet. A man’s vanity can certainly be misinterpreted via the pictures.

Women usually say they are not impressed by seeing a guy flexing, even if he’s in great shape. It’s not what makes them want to sit down and write you an email.”

The infamous male “ab shot” has the same reputation as the MySpace Shot—it’s an Internet clinche that supposedly everyone thinks is only for bozos. To wit: a journalist was visiting our office recently, and when we told her we were researching user photos, the first thing she said was “please tell me people hate it when guys show off their abs.” We hadn’t finished running the numbers yet, so we confidently reassured her that people did. The data contradicted us. Of course, there is some self-selection here: the guys showing off their abs are the ones with abs worth showing, and naturally the best bodies get lots of messages. So we can’t recommend this photo tactic to every man. But, contrary to everything you read about profile pictures, if you’re a guy with a nice body, it’s actually better to take off your shirt than to leave it on. We would never suggest to a Fitzgerald or a Dave Eggers to limit his profile to 100 words, and so why should guys with great bodies keep their best asset under wraps?

You shouldn’t take your picture with your phone or webcam
The rationale behind this myth seems solid: cell-phones and webcams take low-end photos; when the camera’s fixed on your desktop or at the end of your arm, the context of the photo is bound to be pretty mundane; and there’s the avoidable creepiness of someone lurking in the dark, in front of the computer, snapping his own button.

Granted, the benefit of a self-shot photo is small (I’m not exactly sure what a guy’s supposed to do with that extra tenth of a girl he talks to), but given our expectations and the prevalence of advice against  taking your own picture for a dating profile, we thought this result was noteworthy. Perhaps what these photos lack in technological quality they make up for in intimacy, and it’s undeniable that at their best, self-shot pictures can have an approachable, casual vibe that makes you feel already close to the subject.

This finding led us to investigate a controversial women-only subset of the self-shot picture: the universally maligned “MySpace Shot,” taken by holding your camera above your head and being just so darn coy.

A profile photo which clearly shows you are holding the camera yourself is actually quite negative; it suggests you are unable to find anyone to take a good picture of you. Webcam photo’s are simply bad quality and tend to show your face from a strange angle. It takes little effort to get a friend or family member to take a nice picture of you for your profile and the resulting contacts will make the effort worthwhile.

No black and white pictures.
Black and white is a no-no. So are all those artsy colors you can create in Photoshop. People often look very, very different in color, and this can be misleading. If you want to include one as an extra photo, that’s fine - but your profile picture should be a true representation. Black and white is not a true representation unless you’re a Dalmatian.

How many pictures?
It's best to have more than one picture. Two is enough, eight is too many. At least one of them should show your face close up. Women should have at least three photos - one of your face close-up, one of your entire body, and one something of in-between. Do not use more than one professional glamour photo - most men know that glam shots airbrush a lot out, and it makes us think that you are hiding something if all your photos are glam shots!

Show a little restraint - don't use a "boy with toy" shot. "Boy with toy" shots are the ones with guys in sports cars, or skydiving, scuba diving, sailing, flying a small plane etc. Women should avoid shots that do not show what they look like - no ski slope photos, for example.

You should be compiling a huge array of photographs over a long period of time. You should have literally hundreds of pictures of you to choose from when you’re selecting appropriate photographs for your online dating profile. By examining yourself in various situations you will be able to accurately assess which poses you look good in, which angles you photograph well in, and what clothes simply do not work for you. When you’re in these situations try and vary your poses. Keep the above to sections in mind on body language and smiling, though! Try to get your photographer to take pictures of you with as many different people as possible, too. At the end of the night you will be bound to like a few pictures that you have taken.

No hats, no sunglasses.
In a  headshot hats and sunglasses will take up ¼ of the picture. It will also make you seem like you’ve got something to hide. Its incredible how many men do this - the subliminal is, "I’m trying this out, but hope to God no one I know sees this." Um, how’s that supposed to make us feel? If you have a low opinion of yourself for dating online, what must you think of us? Besides, you all look better without hats, I promise.

The Panorama.
Hey, it's great that you love traveling so much that all your pictures are you in front of world monuments (or just the local baseball stadium). But where are you? Oh that is you, in the sunglasses, the hat, and the big jacket, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro? Funny, I can't tell a thing about you by looking at that picture.

So you think you look like Tom Cruise in your aviator sunglasses or just cool in your baseball cap (plus it hides the thinning hairline) but women want to see your face so don’t hide behind props.

For the best dating profile photo get an up to date photo of your head and shoulders, make sure it is clear and good quality. Ladies want to see your eyes, your smile and the real you.

The Baby Daddy Shot.
If you have kids and you want your potential date to know that, fine. If you don't have kids and you want your potential date to think you like kids ... think again. I'm sure I'll find out you love your nieces and nephews on our first date, but when I see them in your picture, I assume you're the kind of guy who volunteers at a nursing home just to hit on the hot visiting granddaughters.

If you have kids, of course you should talk about them in your profile. The issue here is not hiding the fact that you have children. This is another big safety issue. Most sites will actually ban pictures containing kids now anyway. If your children's pictures are out there for all to see, eventually the wrong kind of person will get a hold of them. Just the thought of a total stranger looking at your children is enough to turn a stomach, but if you've made the mistake of adding a picture that also has some kind of identifying feature in it (as mentioned previously) then are now in real danger. Of course you should be proud of your children and, of course you want to show them off, but you need to be very careful WHO you show them off to.

I don’t care if your profile says you don’t have kids - show a picture of you holding a toddler and we’re going to assume your profile is wrong. Besides, I find it creepy to see pictures of a child on an internet dating site, no matter the capacity. If you really feel you must include a child’s photo, make sure your profile says who the child is to you - not his name!  - Nephew, brother, etc.

Children have the right to privacy and it is easy to get chatting online and give out snippets of details about where you live or the name of the school your children attend and you have no idea who you are handing that information to. Keep your children safe and only show their photo to people you have been speaking to for some time and feel confident will not abuse your trust.

Nothing more than 6 months old.

If you think we can’t tell your photo is 20 years old, guess again. Women are masters at noticing trends. Yes, we’re going to notice the 70’s leisure suit and feathered hair. We’re going to notice the Pac-Man t-shirt. We’re going to notice the Polaroid quality. We’re going to notice that’s a freaking old picture - which means you must hate the way you look now. Low self-esteem is not attractive and you’ll be overlooked.

Women want to know what you look like now, not two years ago. Same is true for what men want to see in a woman's photo. Hey - if you really have guts, then show a photo of yourself holding up today's newspaper!

If all your pictures are you in college gear and college bars, rocking fashion from 2005, or simply looking way too fresh-faced to match the fact that your profile says you're 28, we're going to wonder what part of aging doesn't agree with you.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but never, never, not even if you’re terribly lonely and will do anything for a date never should you post an old picture of yourself from when you were much younger. You don’t look like that anymore, and you will never will again. It’s not fair to your prospective date, and it's not fair to you.

Honesty is the best policy!
Whatever you do, don’t post a profile photo that misrepresents how you look. Some daters think its O.K. to include a photo of themselves that’s a few years old. Now, while it might be tempting to appear younger than your actual age, and believe that it may attract more contacts, consider what will happen when you have your first face-to-face meeting.

No profile angles.
In other words, nothing that looks like it belongs on coinage somewhere. You can add these into your additional pictures, but the main picture ought to show you face on. Everyone knows a clever angle can make a person look very different from how they might appear head on. So do yourself a favor and make your appearance clear from the start.

The Groupie Photo.

There is no easier way to confuse someone than with a picture of you with a group of friends. Okay, which one are you the one in the back? The one in the disco outfit? It’s hard, if not impossible, to figure cut who you are in the group, and you also end up putting pictures of people online who shouldn’t be there.

Putting up a photo of you and three friends on a stag weekend and saying I’m second from the left will simply mean people can’t really see your face. Yes it means you are fun, active and have friends but people initially want to see you and decide if you are their type physically.

And think of this: What if they think your friends are hotter than you are?  Which one are you again? All I see is five guys with dark brown hair in button-down shirts. That one on the left is pretty cute ... oh, that's not you? Um, well is he on Match too? Ouch.

Most group shots tend to be from parties or at nights out. Everyone is laughing and has a drink in hand. You may think these shots make you look fun. But consider this—do you want all potential daters to think you’re a party animal? Do you want them to think all you do is go out drinking? Do you want them to think you’d rather be hanging out with your friends than be with your partner? Do you want your potential date to wonder how many of the people in the photo you’ve slept with and may still be sleeping with? Showing yourself having fun is not a problem, but there are better ways to do it.

Pictures out of Magazines
You may not think anyone would do this, but they do - taking pictures from glossy magazines and using them for their profile photos.  Aside from flat-out lying, this is also illegal. If you aren’t proud of yourself, don’t like the way you look, or are afraid to put your picture online so you resort to this level to get responses, you may want to re-consider being online or attempting to meet someone. You are not ready. You’ve got some problem you may want to work out first. Hold on.

Pictures That Aren’t of You
Sonic people put pictures and graphics in their profile that are not pictures of themselves at all. They may put up a picture of a plc they love (such as the beach), a painting they did, a snapshot of their pets, or some image that has a special meaning.

Such pictures can have a place in your profile, but they should never take the place of the headshot and body shot. As a primary picture, such images are a no no. Arc you suggesting we date your dog? If you are, there’s probably an affinity site for that you should be using instead.

A good profile photo should be a current honest reflection of you - on your own.

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