Choosing Tinder Profile Pictures – Ground Rules for Men and Women

Selecting profile pictures for Tinder (or Bumble, OkCupid, etc.) can be hard, whether you have too few or too many to choose from. If the former sounds like a familiar problem, consider this guide on how to easily take good dating profile pictures at home.

There are many opinions and even studies on what constitutes a good dating profile picture, and the deeper we delve into the finer points, the more the advice tends to become situational.

In this guide though, we will focus on the basics. Following the advice below should help you avoid common mistakes and provide a very good starting point.

 

General Dating Profile Picture Advice

You don’t have to fill in all the blanks

Tinder, for example, allows you to display up to six pictures on your profile. Do you have six equally great pictures of yourself? Fantastic, fill ‘er up!

Otherwise, you should use as many good pictures as you have of yourself, and not a single one more. If you have two great photos at your disposal, and lots of mediocre ones, you’ll most likely do better if you just leave it at two. Why?

 

You’re being judged by your worst picture

One very unflattering photo is enough to make many people close your profile and continue looking elsewhere, no matter how good the others were. The thought that this is what you normally look like and all the other pictures must have been taken from very flattering angles just sticks, even if only subconsciously.

If you’re not certain in which pictures you look most attractive to others, I can whole-heatedly recommend using photofeeler to find out. (No, they’re not paying me to say that.)

Don’t save the worst for last

Your first and last picture are the most important ones, and you should choose the two in which you’re generally considered most attractive. It might be a sad fact, but attention spans on swipe-based dating apps are very low. By the time people are looking at your last image, they have most likely forgotten that spectacular first picture that made them open your profile. This is especially true if all the photos in-between did not offer a clear view of you.

 

Show your face

At the very least your main picture should offer a clear, unobstructed view of your face. That means no sunglasses, or layover filters. Not all your photos have to follow this rule, and wearing sunglasses outdoors is perfectly fine, but most people want to see your eyes at least once and the chances of somebody opening your profile (or swiping right directly) are higher if they can see them right from the start.

 

Easy on the filters

Heavy filter usage just makes it seem like you have something to hide.

 

No mirror selfies

Having one or two selfies in your reel is perfectly acceptable, but there are better ways to take them than using a bathroom mirror. Those just leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths.

Most likely, your phone’s main camera’s image quality is a lot higher than its front cam’s, so it’s understandable to use a mirror to easily make sure you’re in the shot. But with a bit of practice, you’ll find just turning the phone around and taking selfies this way is almost as easy and produces better pictures. Especially since you won’t be bound to places with mirrors.

Tips: Depending on your camera app, you should be able to assign the volume buttons as shutter triggers. If you can see your eye’s reflection in the lens, your face should be in the shot.

Easy on the controversial stuff

What exactly constitutes “controversial stuff” of course depends on your regional culture, but examples include posing with guns or swords, smoking, or rude gestures.

In most cases, pictures showing you engaged in a highly unpopular activity, or representing a controversial opinion, should be left out of a dating profile.

This is true even if you absolutely require the other person to be into the same things, thus wanting to filter out anyone who isn’t, but that’s the topic of next week’s article.

 

Bring out yer pets

Nothing screams “trustworthy” like seeing you care for an animal that looks like it wants to be near you. So if you have a furry friend, including a picture of you two together is a very good idea. If you also manage to take/find one where you yourself look great, then that makes for a fantastic main photo.

 

No pictures with the opposite sex

Is that your current SO you have your arm around? Your sibling, cousin, friend, or ex? Did you put it up because you think it makes you look desirable? To give us an idea of the minimum required attractiveness to be in your company? Or do you just innocently think it’s a great picture of you? Did you get their permission to put their face on a public dating profile?

We can’t tell, and in most cases, a photo like that can only harm our perception of you. Leave it out.

 

No kids

Similarly to the above, we can’t really tell if that’s your child, nephew/niece, or a friend’s child, and specifying as much in your profile text just isn’t enough. Even if it’s your child and you want to filter out everyone who would not want to date a single parent, an online dating profile is just not the right place to share pictures of kids.

 

Group shots

If you’re a social person (or would like to appear as one), having a few group shots in your profile is generally a good idea. An even better one is to blur out everyone else’s face.

Just make sure we already know which one you are, meaning don’t make it your main picture and leave it at one or two group shots total. Nobody likes to play “Where’s Waldo” while looking at a dating profile.

Also, when posing with others, make sure you’re the most attractive one in sight. You really don’t want people to go “Aw, they’re cute, but I’d much rather talk to their friend.”

Let your Instagram do the talkin’ (optional)

Do you already have an Instagram account? Is it at least somewhat filled with good and/or interesting pictures? Great! Be sure to link it to your profile! If not, starting one just for Tinder or OkCupid and force-feeding it staged pictures is probably not the best idea.

An organically grown Instagram account, showcasing your favorite pictures of yourself, holidays, friends, landscapes, whatever you find interesting, will lend some additional insight into your personality and complement your bio. It also seems a lot more authentic than the portfolio of main pictures in your profile, handpicked (or even specifically taken) to be used for a dating profile.

 

Gender Specific Dating Profile Picture Advice

Disclaimer: The following is aimed at women looking for men, and men looking for women, respectively. Tastes and opinions vary wildly of course, and there are many exceptions. For ease of reading, all statements are generalized to apply to the majority and caveats are mostly left out.

One very common mistake people make is to consider what they would like to see in the profiles they are looking at, and crafting their own profiles on that basis, including picture selection.

The thing is, men and women don’t judge attractiveness entirely the same way, and some mistakes are more commonly found in women’s profiles, some in men’s.

 

Dating Profile Picture Advice For Women

Be the main subject of your pictures

Make sure to be clearly visible in at least most of your photos. It may sound harsh, but those pictures of you skydiving, doing yoga on a cliff, horseback riding, skiing, etc.? Yeah, those are the ones we hastily flip through, looking for the next one where we can see you clearly.

It’s not that we don’t care about your life, hobbies and interests. It’s just that that’s what profile texts and messaging are for. The pictures really only serve to see what you look like, and context doesn’t matter a whole lot. A white wall behind you is fine.

 

Eeeasy on the filters!

Especially the dog and flower crown ones. Nobody likes those. They’re the modern day equivalent to the thankfully almost extinct duck face. Actually, they’re even worse, because we know they also serve as a lazy kind of Photoshop: Smoothing out the skin, narrowing the face, and making the eyes bigger.

If all your pictures are heavily filtered, people are just going to assume you’re trying to hide something. And if your main picture features the dog filter, chances of an instant left swipe are high.

Don’t be a floating head

Similarly to heavy filter usage, having only portraits in your reel raises certain suspicions.

Whether those suspicions are justified or not, there’s really no benefit to not including full body pictures. Assuming you intend to meet some of your matches eventually, of course.

Whatever their personal preferences may be, many guys swipe left on portrait-only profiles out of principle. Not necessarily because they assume they won’t be into whatever they think she is trying to hide, but because of the perceived attempt to deceive people alone.

 

Dating Profile Picture Advice For Men

Let your pictures say more than a thousand words

Your attractiveness isn’t being judged merely by how good looking you are. Context matters a lot, and standing in front of a white wall in all of your photos is a bad idea.

If at all possible, try to include photos of you engaged in your favorite activities, or taken in interesting places. Paint a picture of what it might be like to spend time with you.

This is one of those times the old advice “Show, don’t tell!” applies. Displaying photographic evidence is just a lot more valuable than describing yourself in your bio. (One of the other examples: Don’t write “I’m funny”, be funny instead.)

 

Absolutely no mirror selfies!

Especially shirtless ones. Yes, it’s okay to show off that sweet body you’ve been working on, but please do so in a context that doesn’t make you seem like a douche.

Try to get a “candid” shot of you at the beach/pool, playing volleyball, or in any other situation where being shirtless in public is socially acceptable, and it doesn’t seem like you took the picture just to show off your abs. Also, these pictures are best placed somewhere in the middle of your reel.

That is assuming you’re looking for at least some kind of non-physical connection with your matches.

 

 

Questions, suggestions, something you’d like to add? 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 🙂

3 Comments

  1. Also- men really need to stop with the dead fish pictures!!! Especially, for the first photo. We are women, even if we enjoy fishing on occasion, we don’t want to see your slimy, dead, fish hanging there while looking for a date!! And, many women who you’d still want to date find fishing gross and boring, if you have your first photo of you with a fish or more than one of you with a fish, we are thinking, great all this guy is going to do is want to fishing every weekend, and we swipe to the left. The same goes for photos of you playing video games or at the gym!!

  2. What is your take on full body photos as the first photo but they look taken at a distance ex. someone is on a hike. I think it works well for women because like you wrote, it gets rid of “body deception” issues men have with only portrait photos. How would a photo like that for a man work in your opinion?

    • In my opinion it would not work very well regardless of gender. The face should be recognizable in the first picture (in general). Though as a second, it could be a good idea.

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