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How to take the perfect online dating profile picture

07 May 2019 ( 31 March 2022 )

First impressions count, and when it comes to online dating there's a lot resting on how appealing your profile picture is. Read these tips from the pros to get the perfect photo.

An older woman takes a photo for her dating profile

First impressions count; in the world of online dating, the first impression you give anyone is via your profile picture, so here’s our guide to making sure it’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Inside tips from a professional photographer

Wedding photographer Juanita Cannan gave us her advice on taking the ideal profile picture.


‘Good light is the number one thing. When a soft light hits your eyes it makes you look more youthful, more approachable. That sparkle is so important. Take the photo outside on a sunny day if you can, or if you’re indoors, stand facing the window. You want the light coming to you.'


‘Try for a plain, neutral, uncluttered background,' advises Cannan. 'It’s worth taking an extra few minutes to bring the focus back to you instead of distracting any potential date with what’s going on in the background.'

Your smile

‘For your photographer, find a friend who makes you genuinely laugh. A natural smile and laugh goes a long way in a photograph. If your photographer is someone you can trust and have a good rapport with, you’ll relax much faster (this is also true if you hire a professional photographer).'

Your pose

‘Remember, everything is magnified immensely through a camera lens. Standing square on to the camera makes you look bigger and wider than real life, so stand at an angle, with your head towards the light. Tilt your head slightly; the angle adds more interest. Jut your chin forward and drop it to reduce a double chin. Don’t look down at the camera; looking up to the camera avoids a double chin and up-the-nose shots, so ask your friend to stand on a box, or you could sit down. And no slouching! Good or bad posture stands out far more in a photograph than it does in real life.'

Selecting your picture

‘Never expect the first picture to be the one you’ll use, as you’ll need time to relax. I always consider the first 5-10 to be throwaway shots. There will lots of rejects, but don’t be disheartened by that.

‘Have a friend choose the picture you end up using, because they will recognise the shots that represent you best.’

First date conversation tips

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Inside tips from the other side of the camera

Model and actress Caridad Angus also weighed in with some tips on posing for the perfect picture. 

‘One of the first photographers who took my picture told me to only make small movements between shots – don’t go from one pose to another, just make tiny changes. Move the angle of your face slightly, or smile a little more each time. Start with a relaxed face, and work up to a big smile – if you start with a grin then your face will hurt before the end! Don’t over-pose, and don’t try too hard.

‘Think about something whilst the camera is clicking – if your mind is blank then the photos look blank, but if you’re remembering something that makes you feel happy, it shows in your eyes.’

‘Take your time when choosing your clothes; wear a selection of your favourite outfits in different colours, with a range of necklines. And only expect to end up with a handful of photos that you really like – that’s completely normal.’

Photographs to avoid

Your main profile picture should be you, and you alone. By all means include some group shots where you’re having fun with friends and family a few photos in, but make sure the first image is undoubtedly you. You don’t want anyone to email and say ‘Are you the brunette?’ and then sound disappointed when you tell them you’re the blonde.

Avoid looking too serious – but by the same token, don’t be too crazy. Most of us will have silly shots on our phone of us eating a giant burger or posing with a silly hat on, but reserve the wacky side of your nature until people get to know you. Your fellow online daters are looking for a genuine connection; if it looks like you’re not taking the whole thing seriously, they might not take you seriously either.

And even if the most attractive photo of you ever taken was on the arm of your ex, don’t even consider using it. Don’t crop them out if you can still make out a disembodied arm around your waist either – your ex should not even have the faintest cameo role on your dating profile. Just choose a different picture, and thank us later.

Tips to get the most from your online dating profile

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Photographs to include

It’s a good idea to have a shot of you looking at the camera ( slightly side on, remember, not staring straight down the lens) as well as a candid shot of you enjoying yourself, completely unaware that anyone even has a camera in their hands (!).

If you have a beloved pet, such as a cat or dog, consider a including a photo of you holding or petting them, to highlight your loving, affectionate side; or if you love traveling, upload some pics of you in your favourite destinations to make sure you come across as someone who enjoys seeing the world. 

Pop a full length shot of yourself in too; even if you aren’t quite the shape you’d like to be, it’s better that your prospective date knows right away so they aren’t taken aback when you meet face-to-face. On that note, you could include a picture that doesn’t quite do you justice, so your date will be pleasantly surprised that you’re much more attractive in the flesh!

And make sure any photo you choose is taken in the last few months, especially if you’ve changed any aspect of your appearance. You want your date to fall for who you are now, not who you were then.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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