Taking the right photo for your internet dating profile

By Saga correspondent, Monday 11 June 2012

It’s the part of your profile that, more than anything, can be the difference between success and failure with online dating and yet it’s remarkable how little attention we often pay to it - the profile photo

Woman being photographedGiven the very visual experience of browsing a website, having a good, striking profile photo is an essential part of attracting another user’s interest in you when you are using internet dating websites. Naturally, the more interest your profile receives, the more likely you’re going to be contacted by someone.

More than ever today, with the advent of cheap digital photography, most people have access to the facility to take photos on a range of devices and importantly, the ability to edit and change them afterwards. Being able to crop, enlarge and change the colour of photos radically alters what we can do with images without having to rely on the services of a professional. The advent of powerful editing software available for free and on browsers means that it is easy to complement your photos with the aid of post-production techniques.

There is an element of skill in taking a good photo, but at the same time it’s very easy to take a bad one. However a few simple tips can put you on the road to ensuring that your images are eye-catching and subsequently attracting more interest in your online dating profile.

Know what your camera can do

The key element on any camera is the quality of the lens, so if you have access to or know someone with a digital SLR then use it; the depth of field on these lenses will usually yield much better results. Yet even the cheapest compact cameras will have a variety of settings on them to ensure that you can take a good photo; if at all possible take advantage of the “portrait” setting. The latest smartphones take a decent picture as well, but otherwise avoid using a mobile phone or laptop camera - their tiny aperture means that the quality will be poor, especially indoors. It’s also worth ensuring that the photos you take are of a high resolution so that you can edit them effectively later.

The long arm of the lonely

Try if at all possible to get a friend or family member involved. A photo of yourself taken by you is always going to look horribly forced and also makes you look a bit lonely. With someone else behind the viewfinder, you’ll feel more relaxed. They may also be able to tell you what physical features should be emphasised. If you really can't find someone to take a picture for you try to use a camera with a timer on it; many will allow you to take multiple photos in quick succession.

Let there be light

The most important aspect of photography is light and getting as much of it as possible. Try and get outdoors, especially if it’s nice and sunny, to take your photos. Shoot your picture with the sun on the subject, not behind it. Outdoors photography also promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, which is a great way of showing that you’re energetic and not prone to laying on the sofa watching TV.

If you’re going to take a photo indoors or at night, it’s important to note that the automatic setting on a compact camera cannot control the level of flash, resulting in pictures that are often far too overexposed. Many now have a “night mode” which shoots the picture at a slightly slower shutter speed, reducing the level of light from the flash, although you will find that the picture will be ever so slightly blurred so will require the use of a tripod. Sometimes putting a bit of translucent tape over the flash will help diffuse it, resulting in less overexposure.

Keep it simple and close

Straightforward portrait photography is about getting as close as possible to the subject without the shot becoming blurred. All dating sites will require a head and shoulders shot of you looking directly at the camera, so ensure that this dominates the composition. Try to keep the background of the shot to one colour to really ensure that your photo stands out – avoid making your background “busy” by including other objects – this will only serve to make the photo look cluttered.

Take lots of pictures

Digital cameras allow us to take as many photos as possible, so really take advantage of it and even if you feel you have too many, keep them in reserve to be uploaded onto your profile at a later date. Dating sites will allow you to have a gallery, which you should populate to the full with different types of photos. It’s always worth having a full body shot, one with friends celebrating, and shots of yourself enjoying the activities that you’ve mentioned on your profile. So if you like traveling or playing sport, back it up with appropriate shots. It shouldn’t be too obvious to say that you should avoid photos of you standing next to someone that might be confused for an ex-partner.

Crop and edit

The secret to a great photo is often in post-production. There are a plethora of simple editing programs available to download for free and most computers come with a basic one - MS Paint for example. Cropping is a great way of making a bland photo look good, but remember, as mentioned above, to make sure that you set your image quality high enough to allow this. Making the photo black and white can often turn a shot with relatively little colour into something more artistic and also striking, which is what you want to achieve. For the more seriously-minded, http://www.gimp.org/ is a powerful and free program that is the equivalent of the professionals' choice Photoshop.

In summary,


  • Get someone, a friend or family member, involved.
  • Make sure you set the camera’s image resolution high
  • Take your photos outdoors in the sun where possible
  • Take lots of pictures
  • Keep it simple



  • Use a mobile phone or laptop camera
  • Take a picture of yourself
  • Use flash unless you really have to
  • Forget to SMILE!


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