Chloe Gray, Dating Coach
I’m not a photographer, but I do have the unfortunate job of being the bearer of bad news when clients spend $500+ on professional photos and then ask for my help.
In short, professional photos ≠ automatically great dating app pics. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve seen some great professionally taken photos for dating profiles… but I’ve seen A LOT of bad ones. I don’t claim to be an expert in photography, but I’m pretty darn good at getting people dates. So, before you spend an egregious amount of money on a photographer, spend a few minutes listening to ya girl.
Beware of pretentious staging
You aren’t trying to impress executives to trust you with their millions, you’re trying to get a date. If you pose in front of expensive cars, motorcycles, at the top of an elaborate staircase, or on a gold-rimmed desk, you are going to look like a jerk. A rich jerk, sure… but a jerk nonetheless.
Unless they’re interested in being your sugar baby, they’ll probably assume that you’ll spend 2 hours talking about yourself, 2 minutes disappointing them in bed, and 2 seconds later they’ll leave sticky, sweaty, and thoroughly unsatisfied.
Don’t let them pose you
You probably aren’t a model… which means you don’t know how to relax your body and look natural in posed positions. If it isn’t how you normally stand, you’re going to look stiff, awkward, and maybe a lil constipated. Don’t allow your limbs to be manually placed into position. Instead, ask them to take photos of your natural movement.
This isn’t about looking professional. You aren’t shooting your shot at becoming a stock model. This is about looking attractive and approachable… which will involve looking relaxed and comfortable. It’s ok if they ask you to change your pose, but don’t let them do it for you.
Men: Be wary of makeup
A little bit of foundation/concealer is fine to even out your skin tone. Blush and lip-gloss are not. I have seen so many photos ruined by photographers going crazy on the makeup. If it’s obvious that you’re wearing makeup when you look in the mirror, it will probably be obvious in the photo.
To be clear, this is in no way a criticism of men who wear makeup. If you enjoy wearing makeup in your everyday life, keep rocking your look. However, if you don’t usually wear makeup, you will give the impression that you do. We’re trying to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings that will affect your match rate.
Photoshop with caution
Looking like an Instagram model is great, but we know darn well you have forehead wrinkles. Everyone does. Cause you’re human. Most people can recognize a photoshopped image a mile away. Even if they can’t tell what was manipulated, they’ll know something is off. They will wonder what you’re trying to hide, and will be less likely to swipe on you.
It’s fine to smooth out a blemish or edit out a dog that’s popping a squat in the background- but you need to look like the person they’re going to be meeting. Trust me, if you added a couple of pounds of muscle and removed a few pounds of fat from your photos, it’s gonna be an awkward first date.
Highlight the Goods
What are your best features? How can we showcase them? Those are questions you and your photographer should be working to answer. Don’t get screwed by bad photos. Be aware of factors that will make you appear less attractive than you really are.
For example, standing next to a statue, next to a mountain, or in a room with a high ceiling will shrink you down by a few inches. Sunglasses will make you less approachable. Staring directly into the camera with no expression on your face will make you look like a serial killer. Side photos will make you look more narrow. Tilting the camera up or down will distort your features, etc… your environment, your clothing, your poses, and the camera work should all be focused on getting flattering and accurate photos of you. A lot of these things aren’t important when taking professional photos, but they are vital for your dating profile.
Use your words
The photographer is the professional, but you’re paying them to perform a service. Speak up and tell them what you’re looking for. Be as specific as possible. Say something if the photo shoot is going in a direction that concerns you. It isn’t rude; it’s helpful.
As someone who relies on word-of-mouth and good reviews to maintain my business, I would MUCH rather have a client redirect me if they aren’t finding our session helpful than to leave unsatisfied.
Lots of photographers, even photographers who advertise themselves as “Dating App Photographers”, don’t have an intimate knowledge of the strategies vital for success on dating apps.
The goal of online dating photos is different from that of most professional photoshoots. You aren’t trying to look elite, professional, or like photoshop perfection. You need the person swiping on your profile to trust your photos, see the person underneath, and feel attracted to you. If they can’t do that, you’re going to have a bad time.
If you’re going to hire a professional photographer, be picky. Look through their portfolio, have a solid idea of what you’re looking for, ask plenty of questions, and form a plan together.