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Short version: Maria Izaurralde’s friends weren’t getting the results she thought they deserved on online dating sites. The most significant reason for their limited matches seemed to be their lackluster profile photos. Maria, who has a background in photography, started taking more attractive photos of her friends — and the results were inspiring. She expanded that concept to build Right Swipe Pics, a growing business based in Miami that helps singles upgrade their profiles with stunning photos. Today, Maria has photography partners in San Francisco as well, and together they provide clients with the pictures sure to get them noticed on dating platforms.
Right Swipe Pics founder Maria Izaurralde came up with the idea for her business by happenstance.
“When I first picked up a camera, I would take it everywhere and photograph people around me,” she told VoyageMIA. “My friends would end up with these great photos that they’d use on their social media.”
Maria’s photos also garnered her friends more attention — from the right people — on dating websites than they’d had before. She realized that other online daters might be posting unflattering — or non-compelling — photos of themselves on their profiles and seeing similar negative results.
Right Swipe Pics was born from that realization.
“Knowing how picky people can be, and how great photos can lead to an abundance of choices are the reasons I started Right Swipe Pics,” she said.
But the importance of quality photos didn’t hit home with Maria until she became involved with someone who didn’t have one.
“I needed fresh pictures for an article about my company, so I got on Tinder and searched for guys with bad photos,” she said. “When I came across a shirtless mirror-selfie guy, I swiped right. I messaged him to explain it was only because I was interested in giving him a photo makeover, and, luckily, he was game.”
Before she met up with “shirtless mirror-selfie guy,” Maria’s interest in him was purely professional. His photo turned her off, but she was shocked to find herself liking him much more than his profile picture had led her to believe was possible.
“That’s the ironic story of how I — Right Swipe Pics founder — married shirtless selfie guy,” she said. “Turns out, having a shirtless selfie doesn’t automatically equate to being a self-obsessed narcissist.”
Her match with someone she would never have swiped right on before made Maria see the need for her services even more clearly.
“I shudder to think that my husband’s bad photos could have led to a different outcome,” she said.
Right Swipe Pics provides a portrait photography service that produces attractive, clickable dating profile pictures for clients.
Photo sessions are customizable, and daters can take pictures in a variety of outfits and locales. They can even decide if they want their photos retouched.
Maria’s photos differ from those that daters typically use because they highlight their best features.
“If someone looks really good in a certain light, I want to capture that,” she told San Francisco Weekly. “I want to make people look sexy.”
One of Maria’s clients, a professional matchmaker named Dan, is an excellent example of just how much difference a picture can make. He posted a profile on Tinder but wasn’t getting as many responses as he would have liked from his professional, business photo. In it, he wears a suit, tie, glasses, and a serious expression.
In his consultation, Maria promised she would inject more life into his picture. She stressed the importance of appearing as if you know how to have a good time in your dating app pictures.
The results were striking. In one black-and-white image, Dan is relaxing outdoors, in front of a bar. He’s wearing a comfortable shirt and looks relaxed and happy, with a pleasant look on his face.
Three weeks later, Dan reported that he was seeing “insane results” on dating sites. “I couldn’t believe what a difference a couple of new pictures could make,” he said.
Maria explains how she creates these pictures that generate so much buzz. “I pretend I’m on a date with a guy. I’m looking at the light, looking at his face, and I’m capturing, in my head, everything that’s really attractive about him. Like the best angles, lighting, and his expressions,” she said.
Maria offers some tips on creating the ideal dating site photos. For example, shirtless photos aren’t necessarily taboo — but the situation needs to be appropriate.
“If you’re engaged in a sport or activity, and someone else is taking a photo, that’s fine,” she told Bostinno. “You can be doing something if you’re already shirtless — like if you’re playing volleyball on the beach.”
However, daters should shy away from mirror selfies and cropped photos, and don’t include images of yourself that could be deemed controversial, like the dater in this nex example did.
Maria transformed photos of this bird-flipping single by snapping him at home, at a restaurant, and hanging out outdoors.
The dater received notably different results. “The psychological reward of this whole thing is ridiculous. Sometimes you swipe 20 in a row and no matches. Sometimes a day goes by and the whole thing has been silent, but just now I just swiped like 5 in 10,” he wrote.
“I can sympathize more with people who are single, and I know the kind of photos that I would want to see,” Maria said.
In the beginning, Miami-based Maria took all of Right Swipe Pics’ dating photos herself, but over the years, Right Swipe Pics has expanded. Now, she has two partner photographers who cater to California and West Coast clients.
“The team is me and two photographers on the west coast (San Francisco) that offer different styles of photography,” she said.
One photographer is Travis Cislo, who Maria describes as “soulful with a more traditional style of portraiture.” The other is Anastasia Blackman, who focuses on men. Her style is “modern and candid, really perfect for dating apps,” she said.
Viewers’ perceptions of photographs linger long after viewing, according to a psychological survey. So, if someone who is looking at you as a potential date doesn’t like your photograph, your prospects could already be dimmed.
This study highlights the importance of using a great photo for online dating. The Right Swipe Pics blog offers some free tips to improve your dating app photo game.
The blog advises against relying on selfies, and recommends taking down any photos with awkward settings — we’re looking at you bathroom selfie takers. Also, forgo group pictures, photos taken with Snapchat filters, blurry pictures, and photos that include red eyes.
In the end, your dating app pictures will be of you, just in a better light. The Right Swipe Pics photographers don’t make any of their clients look unrecognizable from the people they are in real life.
Instead, they make their subjects look more relaxed and confident in front of the camera. The goal, after all, is to convey a dater’s personality through a photograph.
“It changes outcomes in real life,” Maria said. “It’s not just that people respond to it, it also changes a person psychologically. They feel better about themselves.”