For many of us, there comes a time in our lives when we realize: “Damn, I don’t have a single decent picture of myself!”
For me, that moment came when I first started online dating and stared at that blank space in my profile where I was supposed to put a picture. Not just any picture, mind you, but one that will make people want to talk to me. And not just one, but several. Now, I had a couple of semi-recent professional CV-shots, but those don’t exactly make for great profile pics.
If you’re in a similar position right now, then this guide is for you.
Taking good pictures of yourself (that don’t seem like selfies) at home
Following the below steps, you should end up with at least one decent photo of yourself to use in your profile.
Choose a spot
If you could show your (potential) date just one part of your apartment/room/basement/house, which one would it be? Apart from the bedroom, I mean.
Is that spot bathed in natural light during any part of the day? If so, great! If not, maybe choose a spot that is. Alternatively, try to create diffuse and very bright lighting there. For one thing, you don’t want a ceiling lamp to cast unflattering shadows across your face. For another, even the best and latest phone cameras still struggle with anything but bright, natural light.
Picked a spot? Maybe cleaned up a bit behind where you’re gonna be standing/sitting? Cool, let’s move on.
Position your phone
Since the photos you’re about to take are supposed to look like someone else took them, or at least not show you in the typical selfie position, you’re going to want to prop up your phone at a reasonable distance, preferably at around eye level.
There are many ways to accomplish this. One free option that has worked great for me in the past, is using a U-shaped napkin holder and some folded napkins to fashion a makeshift phone-holder.
If you don’t have any suitable objects lying around to secure your phone with, or if there isn’t an appropriate surface to place it on anywhere near where you wanted the camera to be, you may finally have found an excuse to buy a smartphone-tripod.
If you choose the latter method, there are once again many options. You may want to go with a basic tripod (Amazon), one that comes with a remote control shutter trigger (Amazon) (in lieu of using the self timer), a nifty flexible-armed one (Amazon) (which would come in handy if you plan to also use it outdoors, as it’s comparatively convenient to carry and you can attach it to posts, tree branches, etc.), or a modular tripod (Amazon), allowing you to pick and choose mounts and shutter remotes.
You’ve chosen a spot, and propped up your phone. Now it’s time to take lots of pictures to sort through later.
- If you don’t have a shutter remote at your disposal, your camera app’s self timer function will do the trick.
- If you do use a shutter remote, keep (or crop) it out of the picture. Maybe use it in conjunction with a short self-timer duration.
- Try to look natural, like a friend decided to pull out their camera and take a picture of you.
- Experiment with different poses and angles. Some sitting, some standing, some leaning, some looking and smiling directly into the lens, and if possible, some capturing you during an activity (reading, cooking, playing darts, whatever you like to do at home).
- No flash photography! Apart from your short term vision thanking you for it, after taking dozens of pictures in quick succession, photos taken with flash tend to accentuate every little skin blemish and pore. HD is well and good, but apart from those lucky few who are blessed with immaculate skin, most people look a lot better in real life than on pictures painted by flash photography.
Taking good pictures outdoors
If you have a favorite spot, or know of a beautiful nearby vista, then by all means, pack your tripod and take some pictures there as well! Having at least one shot of you outdoors is very beneficial, in most cases.
Most of the advice above also applies here, so I won’t bore you with repetition. One of the key differences is that you most likely won’t get around using a tripod (or friend) this time around.
The other big one is lighting:
- Make sure the sun isn’t directly behind the camera. You don’t want to be squinting in the resulting photo.
- The reverse is also to be avoided. Having the camera aimed in the direction of the sun will most likely result result in unusable pictures.
- Aim for the golden hour (the period around sunrise and sunset, which makes for magical lighting). Try to have everything set up by the time it starts, which you can check on this handy site, and take as many pictures as you can while it lasts.
Selecting the best picture
Now comes the hardest part: Sifting through the dozens of pictures you just took to select one or two to use on your profile.
Of course, you’ll do a quick clean up first, scrolling through and deleting all the obviously blurry, awkward, or otherwise misshapen shots. Example: In about 70% of the pictures that exist(ed) of me, I have my eyes closed.
Inevitably, you’ll end up with a few (dozen) photos you can’t really decide between, not to mention their differently cropped versions.
Maybe you have a few keen-eyed friends you can ask for help, maybe you’d rather ask the fine people of various subreddits to pick for you, or maybe you have come to trust your gut feeling when it comes to these things.
Otherwise, I can highly recommend using photofeeler’s services. Among the many options I found while searching for a picture rating site, I liked their design and concept the best by far, not to mention theirs was the only one that didn’t seem skeevy and outdated.
- I have no affiliation with photofeeler.com, beyond being a satisfied user (and recommending them here).
Congratulations! You should now have some good dating profile pictures to use on Tinder (or OkCupid, etc.)
If you have additional advice for other readers, feel free to leave a comment below, or visit the SwipeHelper Subreddit. We have cookies! And advice. And surveys. And stories (maybe yours?). See you there 🙂