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Posting Better Photos

Sharing photos with potential matches can be fun and enlightening. Since all matches at eHarmony have broad-based compatibility, sharing photos is one way people can see if there’s also a spark of chemistry. And they are great for visually displaying parts of our lives to our matches when words just won’t do the job.

Unfortunately, many of our users make the mistake of posting photos that could turn off a potential match. In their excitement to share their lives and their likenesses, they leave common sense by the wayside and use the wrong photos. Here are the top seven worst mistakes our members make with their photos, and ways you can avoid the same mistakes.

1. They Don’t Smile!

Did you ever hear the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s not true, of course, but people think it is. So when members see a match’s photo, and the match has a tight-lipped, humorless expression, they quite likely assume that the match’s whole personality is joyless and drab. On the other hand, a welcoming smile says, “I feel great, and I’m happy to meet you!”

Put your best foot forward, and let them know you’re a warm person who can show them a great time. Smile, smile, smile!

2. They Don’t Use Their Heads

So many of our users like to show themselves on a vacation, or at their family reunion as their first photo. The problem is, matches have a hard time getting a good first impression if the first photo shows someone in a crowd or in front of a rushing waterfall. It’s probably best to keep background distractions away from your first photo, so that you take center stage.

Make sure the first photo is a very nice head shot. That means you’re facing the camera, you’re well groomed and fresh faced, your hair is all in place, you’re well dressed, and, yes, you’re smiling! If you don’t have a friend or family member who knows how to take a good photo, go to a professional photo center such as Glamour Shots where they can make you look your best.

3. They Don’t Use Recent Photos

Sometimes, folks think that if they were a size 6 in 1996 they should post a photo from that year as a profile pic. They don’t realize that meeting a match and having him or her look nothing like the photo makes people angrier than a swarm of bees, and less likely to go on a second date.

So it’s best to be honest. Show your best self, but also your most recent self. Your dates are going to be meeting the current you, not a version of you from years past, so it’s better to be frank now. That way, you’ll know that all your communicating matches like you as you are!

4. They Don’t Use Captions

Most people want to introduce their matches to a whole world of friends, family, and coworkers. But when they don’t add a caption to explain who these folks are, their matches have no context–they just see random strangers. So when posting photos that require an explanation, use captions to help clarify who the viewer is looking at. And if you want to post a photo or two of yourself in a foreign land, or from your family reunion, captions will help give your matches the necessary background info to be impressed by your 20-mile hike on the Great Wall or your cousin Rhea’s new triplets.

5. They Show Themselves With Their Ex

This seems like such an obvious no-no, but people still sometimes show photos of themselves with their last romantic partner while trying to find the next one on eHarmony! Sometimes they even physically cut the ex out of the photo, so that there’s an obvious gaping hole, or use a piece of paper to block out their ex. Needless to say, this looks tacky.

For the sake of all involved, don’t include photos of you and your ex. It will be a turnoff to your dates and, worse, it may confuse your potential matches as to your single status. You’re better off using a different photo. If you must use a photo that your ex is in, use a photo editor such as Photoshop to zoom in on just yourself, and crop the ex completely out (or send the photo to us at and ask us do it for you).

Because your matches want to see you as single, with no strings from previous relationships, you also need to be careful about using photos of you and any member of the opposite sex who is roughly your same age. It might be just a sibling or a platonic friend, but your matches won’t know that–unless you use a caption that clearly says, “My brother Pete.”

6. They Don’t Use an Appropriate Setting

One of our users once posted a photo of himself at a barbecue. His face was obscured by the shade from a tree, and smoke from the grill billowed all around him–he looked more like rocket exhaust than like a Romeo! For a site like eHarmony, he should have made a better choice of setting for his photo.

Make sure that your photos are well-lit, with no glare or shadow, and that you’re in a location that looks fun and interesting to your potential dates. And remember that people of the opposite gender may have opinions on the location where the photo is taken! If you’re a guy, you may not want to pose with a bikini team or use that photo of you wrestling with your buddies. If you’re a woman, think about whether the type of man you want to attract really wants to see your whole stuffed animal collection or your sister’s baby shower. Pick a setting that will look fun to the kind of match you want to communicate with!

7. They’re Afraid to Be Playful

We know, we know–we’ve just told you several ways people need to be more careful regarding photos. But too many folks who are serious about finding the love of their life forget to be a little carefree here and there.

Chip, a couple of the year winner from 2006 who went on to marry his match Rachel, told us his secret for finding the perfect woman: though his first photo was a great head shot, he also included some photos of himself being a little bit goofy, a little bit casual–basically being himself. He rightly theorized that a woman who could accept the everyday side of him would be a great match to communicate with.

If you can bear to do it, include at least one goofy photo! Now that eHarmony has expanded to 12 photos, let your matches see at least one or two of you having fun and less concerned about how you look than about how much you are enjoying yourself doing what you love. This gives matches a glimpse of what the day-to-day experience of being with you will look like and makes talking to you easier.

With a little care and common sense, your photos can avoid all the above mistakes and can show you at your best. Let us know other mistakes you’ve seen your matches make with their photos or lessons you’ve learned about how to display yourself at your best!