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Profile Photos = Better Dates. Here’s Why.

If you’re interested in meeting people and going on dates, photos need to be a part of your online dating experience. Can it be scary? You bet, but it’s the key to a successful experience. We look at the reasons it is so important to put yourself out there and the types of photos that are absolutely essential.

Whether you’re an online dating pro or a complete newbie, posting photos on your profile can be nerve wracking. After all, people are making important decisions about you based on these snapshots. If you happen to be at a stage in your life where you don’t feel you look your best, pressing that upload button can be downright scary.

But NO MATTER WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE posting several photos of yourself is a great idea. It leads to better quality communication and better quality dates.

The 5 Photos You Need

eHarmony gives you the opportunity to post 12 photos. Ideally you should take advantage of every position and post all 12, but there are 5 types of photos that are vital if you want to get the quality communication you desire.

1. The Full Face Close-Up
Your face. Great light. No sunglasses. Smiling. It’s as simple as that. It never hurts to put on a nice shirt or blouse.

2. The Full Body
Standing. Outside. In a green space. From your feet to over your head. Wearing the clothes you would normally wear on a first date. With the sun high in the sky so you’re neither back-lit nor squinting.

3. The Waist Up
Sit down and relax with your nice shirt/blouse. Lean forward a little bit. Smile. A park bench would be nice.

4. Your Passion
Once you have clearly outlined your appearance you can have some more fun with photos. Why not include a photo that shows you doing something you really love — at a ballgame, snowboarding down the mountain or singing karaoke. Don’t be scared to show some personality with this shot. A word of caution: avoid photos that show off expensive toys. You want the focus of the photo to be you enjoying yourself, not your sailboat or sports car.

5.    Your Favorite Place

Most of us have a favorite spot. It could be a quiet hiking trail. It might be at the beach or even at the mall. Grab a friend and get a photo of you in your favorite space. It’s great first date conversation fodder.

The No-Photo Consequence

You may think you have a great reason for not posting a photo. You may be in the Federal Witness Protection Program. You may be a famous movie star. You may not like your looks. Whatever your reason, the fact is: users who don’t post photos don’t get nearly as much communication as those who do. Choosing not to post a photo means you’re seriously hurting your chances of meeting a wonderful person online.

eHarmony has surveyed users on this issue many times and found that it is quite common for them to adopt a policy of not communicating with matches that are photo-less. Why is that? Why would users refuse to even start communicating with someone just because they don’t have a photo? We asked them, and the most common reason is because if you don’t post a photo, they don’t believe you’re serious about wanting a relationship.

People who really want to meet someone and fall in love are pretty serious about the process. They know it can be time-consuming and expensive. They want to make every email and communication count. If they can’t see your photo, they know that’s extra time and effort they will have to expend to coax a photo out of you. They wonder why you would require that extra effort of them instead of just posting a photo.

In addition, users have a policy of not communicating with photo-less profiles because they assume that a lack of photo means you have something to hide. When eHarmony launched ten years ago and most photos were still taken with film cameras opinions were a bit different. Because of the trouble involved in taking photos and getting them developed a user could post a message like, “I don’t have a photo up, but I’m getting them soon,” and get some leniency from their matches.

Not anymore. With cameras in every phone and the upload process so easy, users have clearly decided that there’s no excuse to be photo-less unless you are lazy or have something unpleasant to hide.

Why Non-Photogenic People Need to Post Photos

We aren’t all photogenic. This is a fact of life. Some of us have big ears, small ears, too much this, and too little that. Some of us can relate to a gentleman who once wrote in asking for advice. “I’m not an attractive man. In fact, I’m pretty ugly. What should I do on eHarmony?”

The advice we gave this man, William, was that if he were truly unattractive, it was all the more important that he post his photos.

The fact is physical attraction is a powerful thing, but it can vary greatly from person to person. If you have an appearance that is atypical, then you want to lead with that photo. If 95% of people won’t consider you attractive, you want to screen them out from the very onset. This means that the 5% that do communicate with you have seen your photo and decided that they are attracted to you. It also means you won’t waste time communicating with a person, only to unveil your photo later and have them disappear.

A woman named Kelly wrote in to tell us that she was in the midst of some serious weight loss. She wanted to wait until the process was done before she posted a photo on her profile. This can be a complicated issue involving medical procedures and long range planning. In the end we suggested that she do two things. First, post a current set of photos, and update them very often – perhaps even weekly if her weight loss is that considerable. Ideally, she should be giving her matches a good look at who she is, right now. Not who she was. Not who she wants to be.

Second, we suggested that she share this info, not on her profile page, but in an early conversation with her matches if she is comfortable. We never counsel users to share private medical information on the first date, but this will let her matches understand why there may be a drastic difference between the woman in the photos and the woman shows up for dinner.