4 reasons you’re choosing the wrong dating photos

Don’t worry, it’s not just you.

Turns out nobody is good at choosing their own dating profile photos.

One thing most folks know without being told – choosing photos for your online dating profile is HARD. Like, really really hard. 

Whether you’re using Hinge, Bumble, Match.com, or any of the other dating apps, your online dating profile is a marketing project. Let me say that again:

Your online dating profile is a marketing project.

The product you are marketing happens to be a person, who happens to be you. 

Now, right off the bat that’s tricky – marketing is an entire industry, people go to school for that shit! But then add in the fact that the product is…YOU?

The stakes are high (wasting your time on bad matches when you could be falling in love), your expertise level is low (you’re no online marketer), and that’s just the start.

There are four key reasons why we are each the worst person to choose our own dating profile photos:

REASON #1

Here’s something obvious but that you may never have thought of: 

You’ve been looking at yourself in the mirror your whole life.

Guess what’s weird about the version of you that you see in the mirror? It’s a flipped version of what everybody else sees – it’s your mirror image. 

If your face isn’t completely symmetrical (most aren’t) you look different in the mirror than you do in person. It might seem subtle but it matters. 

A study about profile photo selection was done that showed that people tend to prefer photos of themselves that have been “flipped” to show their mirror image, but when looking at photos of others, people prefer the “actual” image, the way that person looks when face-to-face in real life. 

The photos of yourself that you think are the best? They’re different from the photos of you that other people think are the best.

The whole point of your dating profile is to attract * other people * so…this is a problem. As I like to say, “you are not your target audience”.

Which brings me to…

REASON #2

This is the tender subject of what I’ll gently refer to as warped self-image. It’s that thing where how you think you look does not totally line up with how you actually look and then you

You are unreasonably critical of your appearance.

In my decade+ experience as a photographer (and my many decades as a human), I’ve noticed that just about everybody experiences at least a smidge of this, and some folks have it pretty bad. If you literally hate how you look in almost every photo, you definitely have it. 

If you look at a photo of yourself and immediately zero in on all the parts of your appearance that bother you (ugh, my nose is too big, one of my eyes is smaller than the other, my teeth aren’t perfect…), you are not seeing clearly. Because here’s the thing:

>> NOBODY LOOKS AT US THE WAY WE LOOK AT OURSELVES.

Most of us are critical of how we look and can easily slice and dice our appearance into separate parts, but do we do this when we look at other people? When we meet someone fun at a bar or pass a stranger on the street? No, we don’t. 

When we look at other people we are naturally drawn toward a warm, genuine smile, body language that feels relaxed and in-the-moment. We respond to someone’s poise and attitude and energy, not the fact that their teeth are slightly crooked or their hair isn’t perfect. In fact, often the things we read as imperfections in ourselves can come across as endearing and relatable to others. 

If you are looking at photos of yourself for your online dating profile, and you feel yourself dissecting your appearance, stop, regroup, and remind yourself that nobody else is looking at you this way.

REASON #3

You know too much (about yourself and the story behind each photo).

You know yourself better than anybody. And, your own photos are naturally filled with meaning and context – you know when they were taken, how you felt, what was going on around you. 

You might be really drawn to a photo of yourself that was taken in a situation where you felt happy and in-the-moment. But does your facial expression and body language (*without having any other context*) effectively communicate happy and in-the-moment? Maybe not!

When strangers look at photos of you all they have to react to is the raw visual material in the photo; they don’t know you, they’re not familiar with your sense of humor or quirks or the story behind the photo. 

It is crucial when choosing dating profile photos that they be chosen as if looking at you through a stranger’s eyes. 

Most of us find this way of looking at ourselves (objectively, from an unfamiliar stance) difficult if not downright impossible.

This is also the reason why your friends (siblings, co-workers, parents) are also not great people to help you choose your best online dating profile photos –they know you already. 

[ If you haven’t heard of Photofeeler, it’s worth a look. It’s an attempt to solve this problem by essentially crowd-sourcing profile photo selection ].

REASON #4

Last but not least is the most straight-forward, practical obstacle to choosing your best dating profile photos:

It’s impossible to choose great dating profile photos if you hardly have any to choose from in the first place.

via GIPHY

I won’t say much about this other than it’s the boat most people are in, especially if you are old enough to not have grown up with a smartphone and social media.

Unless you’re into instagram or a shameless selfie queen or happen to have a friend or family member who loves taking your picture, most adults (myself included) simply don’t have much in the way of suitable dating photos in their camera roll. So…you lack material. 

No amount of skillful dating photo choosing can compensate for the fact of slim pickins in the raw materials department.


To sum it up…

If it feels super hard to choose your own online dating profiles, it’s because you are human.

Just by being aware of this fact, and the reasons why, will give you a giant leg-up toward becoming a better judge of your own profile photos. 

Wanna know what’s even better than trying to overcome your own human instincts? Outsource that shit! Bring in an expert (me me me!) to solve the problem for you.

When you book a Whole 9 dating photography package it includes dating profile photo curation: I strategically hand-pick and sequence your dating photos for a profile that kicks maximum ass.


Dating profile photo curation can also be added to a Level-Up dating photography package!  I’ll blend your best existing profile photos with your new dating photos in the best possible order.

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