How To Choose The Best Pics For Your Dating App Profile

As of August 2022, a reported 323 million people worldwide were using dating apps as their primary means of trying to find a hookup, fling, or a relationship. With numbers like that, the online dating world is far more competitive than ever and is projected to increase as dating app memberships continue to rise. Because of this, having the best dating profile possible is essential. And the best place to start when creating that perfect dating profile is with photos. Unfortunately, we live in a society that judges looks before anything else, so even if you're the funniest, most charming human on the planet, you better have a handful of great photos to lure in dates.


"I like to call dating app photos 'prime advertising space," the head of communications at dating app The League, Meredith Davis, tells Bustle. "On The League, you only have up to six photos to advertise what is important to you, whether that be family, sports, travel, etc. Rather than trying to optimize for the most hearts, I always suggest trying to optimize for the right hearts. The people with similar passions or interests as you will get excited about potentially matching if they see that you also enjoy hiking, cooking, or hanging out with your family."

Whether it's six photos or more, depending on the app you use, choose your profile photos wisely. Also, be sure to post more than just a couple of pictures while you're at it — you want to project range!


Show off those pearly whites

While there is nothing worse than some rando telling you to smile on the street — or anywhere at all, for that matter — in this particular case, don't take offense to the suggestion. Just smile. Although contemplative and pensive photos are great, smiling is far more inviting. Online dating can be intimidating enough, so smiling, even slightly sly, can take that intimidation factor down a few notches.


"SMILE! You don't have to be grinning like the Cheshire cat in every photo, but a smile communicates that you're friendly, open, and warm — key characteristics for a future mate — while a frown can make you seem standoffish and cold," Clinton Kelly of "Love at First Swipe" tells HuffPost.

In addition to avoiding any Cheshire cat type of smiles, skip any psychotic grins that might give people flashbacks to Joaquin Phoenix in "The Joker." Great movie; horrible mate potential.

Keep your photos real

It happens to all of us: in some photos, we look amazing, like so hot we're literally giving Florence Pugh a run for her money, but in others, we look like we're the offspring of the Swamp Thing. So, when choosing photos, you want to find the ones that look like you, the real you, on a daily basis — and definitely not the you that you looked like at 25 if you're now 40.


"Great dating photos attract attention, but authentic ones keep it [real]," the founder of Hey Saturday, a site specializing in dating profile photos, Saskia Nelson, tells Elite Daily. "It's critical to use photos that are representative of who you are now ... Deceiving someone with your profile photos to get them out on a first date will not end well. You're just not going to get a second date, no matter how fun, smart, or cool you actually are."

It may be painful to realize, but charm only goes so far.

Ditch the sunglasses

Yes, we all like to believe that we look like the ageless Tom Cruise as Maverick in "Top Gun" once we put on a pair of sunglasses, but do we? If you were to ask your friends, would they agree? Also, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, those super cool aviator sunglasses aren't doing you any favors. They're shutters on those windows, and unless someone has X-ray vision, your soul will be nowhere to be found. 


"Wearing sunglasses in a profile picture — even prescription — tends to decrease users' chances of Swipe Rights by 15 percent," writer for Tinder's Swipe Life Kristin Collins Jackson tells Mic. "Eyes are very engaging and help determine whether or not someone is trustworthy; by covering them up with glasses, a match may not be able to evaluate their trustworthiness."

When dating, especially a first date, you want to feel like you can trust the person.

Keep the selfies to a minimum

Although we're likely all walking around with a boatload of selfies in our phones, do yourself a favor and keep them in your phone and far away from your dating profile. Selfies may be all the rage from a trend standpoint, but they don't get high votes regarding dating app photos. 


According to a study published in Sage Journals, selfies don't affect others the way we think (or hope) they will. While one selfie in your profile isn't going to be a dealbreaker, if you post more than that, as the study found, you're going to come off as self-indulgent as opposed to attractive and likable. Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and just because you think you're smokin' hot in a particular selfie doesn't mean everyone who comes across your dating profile will agree. (But you are smokin' hot, FYI. So, don't second-guess that for even a second.)

Hold off on the group shots

Look at you! You have friends! Oh, wow! You have a social life! The party doesn't start until you walk through that door and announce your presence! We get it. And while it's great to have friends and let potential dates know that you're not a lone wolf or a recluse who's living off the grid on a patch of land behind the local grocery store, group photos don't go over so well when it comes to dating profile pictures.


"Drop whatever you're doing and delete group shots from your profile right now," Saskia Nelson tells Elite Daily. "You're making people work to find you in the shot, and you're losing lots of people this way."

Suppose you look cute and feel confident while out with your friends; step away from the group and get a solo shot instead. Then that's the one that goes up on your dating profile.

Avoid cliché photos

If you're a straight woman using dating apps, there's a good chance that you've seen a slew of men posing with the fish they've caught. These photos are so prevalent that even The New Yorker made fun of them with a satirical piece entitled, "I am a Tinder guy holding a fish, and I will provide for you." (Give it a read; you'll get a proper LOL from it). And yet men continue to post these photos.


"In a time when so many men are out of touch with their masculinity, a photo of him with his big fish subconsciously signals to match that he can survive in the wild," NYC matchmaker Amy Van Doran tells The Post. "[It's] a holdover from when we used to pick our mates based on survival and who can help the child survive infancy."

Okay, great; such photos have their roots in evolution and men being providers, but it's 2023, and we don't need to be provided for. But, in addition to what men subconsciously think when they post these photos, it is a simple fact that it's overdone, dull, eye roll-inducing, and it will have most people swiping left. So, no matter your gender, stay away from cliché photos. You want to stand out and not be a dime a dozen.


Wear bright colors — specifically red

Suppose you tend to wear mostly neutral colors. In that case, your dating profile photos are the opportunity to add some color to your everyday look, even if it's just an accessory to give a little pizzazz. 


"We recently conducted a study that showed that most Tinder users wear neutral colors (black, white, navy, grey, etc.)," the head of marketing and communications at Tinder, Rosette Pambakian, tells Who What Wear. "So if you want to stand out, show a pop of color in your outfit."

Not only do colors go a long way because our senses are affected by colors, but if you are a woman who dates men, you can't go wrong with wearing red. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the color red has quite an effect on heterosexual men because it's linked to the flush of a woman's skin that comes with being sexually excited.

While there are dozens of reasons why people swipe or don't swipe on individual profiles, when it comes to dating apps, the most important thing you can do is put your best self out there, keep an open mind, and have a good time. Dating is supposed to be fun, after all.