Should I Get Professional Online Dating Photos Or Is That Disingenuous?

I’m 24, and I’ve always seemed to have good luck with online dating.  I’ve met lots of people that way, including my last two boyfriends and a lot of now-close friends. Lately, though, I have this weird dry spell: I still get contacted, but can’t seem to make it to a first date.

I know that you recommend that people use really great, perhaps professionally done, photos. So I’m thinking of upgrading mine to get out of this dry spell. However, I have one worry about getting better photos: If I dress up really nicely, get my hair done, and get photographed in flattering lighting, won’t I look different in my photos than I will on a first date?  After all, a first Internet date is generally a casual daytime meetup, so I wouldn’t be sporting a nice hairstyle or tons of makeup, nor would I be posing under rosy, forgiving lights.

As much as I’d like to attract more men, I don’t want to do so disingenuously, because then I’m sure they wouldn’t call after the first date anyway.

I’ve browsed other women’s profiles (to check out the competition) and a lot of them use casual photos too, so I think this is a concern that a lot of women have.  Please advise us!


I’m really quite interested in trying to figure out why you’re going through a dry spell, but that wasn’t your primary question. Let’s just save that for a rainy day.

Anyway, here’s my theory on professional photography:

Due to the enormous competition, you want to maximize your chance of getting a first date. This doesn’t mean posting a photo from five years and twenty pounds ago. But if it means getting a clear, digital, close-up of you smiling with your hair and makeup done just right, I wholeheartedly endorse it.

If it means getting a clear, digital, close-up of you smiling with your hair and makeup done just right, I wholeheartedly endorse it.

You might be more comfortable wearing sweatpants at home, but that doesn’t mean you wear it to a job interview. Your job is to GET the job. And nothing gives you a better chance to get a first date than an amazing photo of you at your BEST.

That said, I’ve always held onto this one photography maxim in regards to online dating profiles:

You’re only as attractive as your worst photo.

Which is why it baffles me that people take professional headshots and then put up a few god-awful mug shots drunkenly taken on a webcam. Anyone who clicks through is going to assume that you look like the drunkard, not the professional.

So if you’re going to go the professional route – and I encourage you to – make sure you also have a bunch of real-life digital photographs that have context. You and your friends at the beach. You and your family at a wedding. You and your dog at the park. That kind of stuff, which reveals a personality that pro shots tend to obscure….

And when you get your pro shots, just put up two of them – one close-up as your primary picture, and one full-body shot as your fourth or fifth picture. As long as you look like the same person in each photo, you will not risk the possibility of misrepresenting yourself.

But since other people do, remember this other pet theory of mine: your date will most likely be 20% worse looking than his/her best photo. Be pleasantly surprised if this is not the case.

For what it’s worth, I have used professional photographers three different times, and each time, it’s made a marked difference in my visibility and response rate. I didn’t do any Photoshop to get rid of wrinkles, and I wasn’t wearing black and hiding behind a file cabinet to obscure my weight. I just took the time to make the most of my looks.

Remember, these photos are intended to represent you at your BEST, not to fool people into thinking you’re someone that you’re not.

Remember, these photos are intended to represent you at your BEST, not to fool people into thinking you’re someone that you’re not. So, please, contact a photographer and watch your profile get more hits instantly.

I’ve been thrilled with the results and trust you will be, too.

Click here to find a photographer in your area.


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  1. 31
    Sparkling Emerald

    I think having a mixture of both (professional shots & snap shots)  as EMK suggests is a good idea.  The professional photographer I went to did my make up & hair and the make up was quite subtle, and I will have no trouble duplicating that look for a first date.  And since I plan on mixing in other good snapshots of me in other contexts, one should be able to compare the pro shot with the snap shot and see that I don’t look drastically different.  If some guy thinks that I’m “fake” because I actually take the time and effort to put up a decent photo, then he’s not the guy for me anyway.  I eliminate anyone who doesn’t have a clear decent, recent photo in their profile.  It doesn’t HAVE to be professional, but a professional shot doesn’t hurt.  If a guy can’t be bothered to put in much effort for his online marketing tool, I assume that he won’t put any effort into a relationship either.

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