Profile Pictures In Online Dating

Online Dating

A Guide to Profile Pictures in Online Dating

Anggi Pradhini

Written by: Anggi Pradhini

Anggi Pradhini

Anggi Pradhini is a professional copywriter who creates unique, engaging, and up-to-date content for As a former stockbroker turned professional writer, she loves to challenge herself to broaden her horizons and improve her skills, one article at a time. After learning from the breakups of three long-term relationships, she dedicated her life to providing informative and relatable content about relationships and dating for those who need it.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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One of the most brilliant things about online dating is that it gives you a chance to check out tons of potential matches without having to go anywhere. But the swiping goes both ways. Every single person has access to virtually unlimited matches, so they can get pretty nitpicky. And the first thing they see is your profile picture.

A profile picture is the photo that represents your identity in the online dating world. In a swift glance, someone will decide whether they want to spend another second on your profile. If you’re seriously looking for a date, you’d better put effort into your profile pictures to make them count.

This guide will help you choose the best profile picture and make your dating profile the best it can be. Let’s dive in and prepare your profile for success.

Elements | First Impressions | Tips | Photo Selection

The Elements of an Effective Profile Picture

Your profile picture is the first visual impression people have of you in online dating. It’s a snapshot of your face, so you’d better make sure it’s a good one! Let’s explore how to make your profile picture stand out in a sea of matches.

1. Clarity and Quality

First of all, the worst thing you can choose is a blurry picture or a picture where people can’t see your face. This should go without saying, but it’s actually a common mistake singles make. Singles may want to rush through the signup and choose the first photo in their camera roll rather than taking two seconds to think about which photo would be best.

You compete with millions of dating profiles, so you need to optimize your photos. Our dating experts recommend selecting a photo where you’re looking straight at the camera. Don’t wear a mask, and save your sunglasses for the beach. If you think you’re playing coy by leaving a little mystery, think again. Nobody wants to play guessing games with their online dates. 

Profile pictures
Pay attention to the quality of the photo you add to your profile.

Uploading blurry pictures tells people that you haven’t put even a small amount of work or thought into your dating profile. It conveys the impression that you aren’t serious about finding dates. If you don’t take your online dating profile seriously, why should anyone give you a chance?

A picture with your friends isn’t the best choice for a profile picture either. Think about it – potential matches can’t tell which one is you in the photo. And what if they’re more attracted to your friend than they are to you? That’s not the impression you want to give.

A high-resolution picture with good lighting and your face clearly showing is the way to go. If a selfie isn’t your thing, ask a friend to take your picture. It takes less than a minute, and it will make a big difference.

2. Authenticity 

You want to look the best in your profile picture, but the picture still has to look like you. Authenticity will set you apart in the overly filtered swipe scene. Plus, it increases the likelihood of finding someone who appreciates you for who you are. And isn’t that the whole point?

Don’t strike a pose that makes people question what you really look like. Pictures where you have practiced poses and beauty filters are a no-no. They may be cute for social media, but they’re not appropriate for strangers on a dating app.

It also isn’t a good idea to edit your photo, even if it’s just to remove blemishes. Being natural and authentic will be much more conducive to building relationships. After all, the other person will see the real you when they meet you in person, so why bother creating the wrong impression online?

3. Approachable, Attractive, Engaging

Your profile picture is like a personal billboard that should showcase the best version of you. The whole point is to attract new people and invite them to learn more about you. That’s why being approachable, attractive, and engaging matters so much.

A profile picture of you smiling warmly at the camera while taking part in a fun activity (hiking or playing a musical instrument) can be a good choice. People can see your face, and they can ask about the activity you’re doing. This makes the conversation flow easier.

Making a Good First Impression

Your profile picture can make or break people’s interest in you. It’s a judgy game, but if you make a good first impression, you may win a date. Consider these two factors when polishing your dating profile.

Swipe Tools Emphasize Photos & Quick Judgments 

When it comes to online dating, Tinder is the first brand that pops up in many people’s minds. It’s the king of swiping games. The statistics on Tinder’s success rate in the dating world are impressive. Tinder has been downloaded over 530 million times, and the app has facilitated more than 75 billion mutual matches.

Screenshot of a Tinder profile
Tinder profiles emphasize photos over written bios.

It’s no wonder many online dating apps have adopted swiping as a means of finding your match. It’s fast and addictive, but it is far from perfect. In the swiping game, your profile picture will be the main thing potential matches see and judge.

A profile picture is like the cover of a book – if it isn’t eye-catching, people may not bother to pick up the book, let alone read it. If you don’t have an attractive profile picture, people will likely swipe left on you. This will naturally reduce your chances of getting dates IRL.

Regardless of how you feel about swiping, it does effectively lead to dates. What happens after those dates, of course, is entirely in your hands.

2. Why Adding More Than One Picture Is Beneficial

Adding multiple pictures enhances your profile and gives you a better chance of attracting compatible matches. You may look so-so in one picture but look dashing in another.

Everyone has more than one picture on their phone. Showing more than one photo of yourself will build trust and make you look like a real human being.

On top of that, adding more than one picture can give people a better sense of who you are. You can show your hobbies, your personality traits, and where you hang out. This variety can spark interest in potential matches, increasing the likelihood that you’ll make a meaningful connection.

Building Trust and Confidence

We live in a digital world where misleading information is everywhere, even on people’s social media. Scrolling through the highlights of someone else’s social media may make you feel like your life pales in comparison. Authenticity is key to setting the stage for a genuine connection.

Showing confidence when you interact with your match will convince them that you’re worth their time.

Here’s a real-life example. Some time ago, I chatted with a guy on Bumble. He asked me what kind of guy I was looking for. I said, “I’m looking for a guy with good character and ambition. Good-looking would be a bonus.”

The response I got was, “Oh, that doesn’t sound like me.”

You can guess that this was a big turn-off for me. Who wants to date a man who doesn’t advocate for himself? That’s a simple example of why confidence is so important to a good dating experience.

Tips for Improvement

Here’s some tips for building trust with strangers on online dating apps.

1. Be Transparent & Honest

Being upfront about your intentions is super important in online dating. Such honesty will help you avoid wasting time with incompatible matches.

Authenticity is key

This can be a learning process for people pleasers. I don’t claim to be a people pleaser, but somehow chatting with someone and then seeing that they chose to disconnect with me on the dating app can hurt a bit. Once this happened a few times, I also chose to disconnect from others and realized this feature may be necessary.

2. Consequences of Fake Photos

Using fake photos in online dating can have serious consequences. People may accuse you of catfishing or being misleading.

Online daters are always looking out for scams, so they’ll be wary of photos that don’t seem real. Don’t risk misinterpretation on your profile by having a photo that isn’t representative of you. This applies to the small things as well. If you don’t like the outdoors, don’t post a photo of yourself in nature.

Another reason to keep it real on your profile: You could be removed for lying or sharing fake photos. Sooner or later, people will catch on that your profile pictures aren’t legit, and they will report you to the app. You risk being banned from the online dating world by uploading phony pictures.

Choosing the Right Pictures

Your profile pictures are like your dating resumé, so you want to make sure they’re sending the right message. Select photos that show your smiling face with good lighting. Avoid using heavy filters and excessive editing, and include a variety of photos that show different sides of your personality and interests. Here is some practical advice to help you polish your profile:

1. Use Social Media as a Shortcut

You don’t have to take a brand-new picture. The easiest shortcut is to pick pictures from your recent update on social media. If you want to be smart about it, choose the pictures with the most likes. 

Some dating apps allow you to connect your dating profile to your social media without sharing personal information. You can use this feature to show that you are a real person with an existing social media profile. 

2. Think About Your Personal Branding

You can curate the story you want to share in your dating profile. This story can serve as your elevator pitch – delivered in a series of pictures.

For example: Hi, I’m Anggi. I work in an office, have a degree, and love to travel.

If that’s your story, then you can choose pictures where you are:

  • At your job (without revealing where you work).
  • Graduating or in your cap and gown. 
  • Traveling to interesting places.

Sharing your story is a smart way to show off who you are and what you’re all about. Some other tips: Don’t choose group shots as your main profile picture, don’t show guns or booze, and be sure to showcase diverse activities. And for the love of God, please smile at the camera!

3. Ask a Friend for Their Opinion

It can be hard to see ourselves objectively, so ask someone you trust to look at your dating profile.

If you’re a man seeking to date women, ask your female friends to give their honest opinion about your profile. They know you well and can share their perspective as women. If you’re a woman, ask for your male friends’ opinions.

Photo of a photo shoot
If you don’t like any of the pics in your gallery, ask a friend to take some new ones.

Consult with an honest friend who will tell you the truth — and who has good taste. Don’t ask your people-pleaser friend because they may mislead you.

Your friends can help you highlight your interests and personality in a way that’s attractive. Even better, they may already be in possession of pictures where you look good.

Overall, their input can help you fine-tune your profile and increase your chances of attracting compatible matches.

Profile Pictures Are the Cornerstone of Online Dating

There you have it. We hope you learned in this guide how to pick the best profile pictures for your online dating profile. At the end of the day, curating your dating profiles thoughtfully is not just about attracting attention; it’s about attracting the right kind of attention. 

If your profile has multiple pictures, your match will get a glimpse of your lifestyle and can decide whether it suits them. People can tell if you put effort into your profile, and, hopefully, the right people will give you a chance. Good luck!