If your eyes are the windows to your soul, your Tinder profile pictures are the windows to your entire life — or, at least, the way you hope to be perceived by a potential new love interest. When someone flips to your profile, they expect to be met by a full-screen image that’s hopefully well-lit, enticing, and an authentic representation of who you are.
Our society is currently at peak visual mode, so you’d think many people would have quality photo skills on lock. But, sometimes, the IRL execution doesn’t go so hot — if you’ve ever been thrown off by a weird crop, lighting situation, or just general stylistic choice, you know what we mean. To ensure you don’t elicit that response in others, we spoke to four professional photographers about how to capture the most Like-worthy, high-quality shots for your Tinder.
This is it — the holy grail of dating photography. It gives an initial glimpse into who you are, creates assumptions about your approachability (or lack thereof), and can serve as a conversation starter. With the right headshot, you can expect messages a’plenty about your stunning eyes and irresistible smile.
The headshot is the perfect space to show off your single-and-ready-to-mingle glow, and lighting has the power to make or break it. San Francisco-based photographer Sarah Sloboda advises positioning yourself in front of and facing directly toward a large window. Make sure any lamps or overhead lights are off. “The frontal light is super flattering (i.e. no filters required), and shows you as authentically you,” she says. The lighting sweet spot, according to New Jersey-based photographer Marie Papp, is a soft diffused light, which naturally happens around the time the sun begins to set.
If you’re rolling solo, Los Angeles-based photographer Siouxzen Kang has three simple rules: find your angle, practice holding it, and switch on self-timer mode. New York-based shooter Kyle Ford agrees and suggests purchasing a small tripod attachment for your phone. “Practice the shot in a mirror first and pay attention to the angles that you like on your face — typically I advise a slight upward/side chin tilt,” he says.
But ultimately, none of the photographers we spoke with were too excited about the idea of your headshot being a selfie, so doing a quick photo session with a friend is advised and encouraged. Ford’s trick? Stick your neck out like a chicken right as your friend pushes the shutter. “It’s highly flattering and generally gets a candid smile,” he says.
If you’re shooting on a cell phone, have the person taking the photo position themselves about five feet away in order to avoid lens distortion — a kooky phenomenon that makes objects appear different than they actually are. If you’ve ever found yourself at the edge of an iPhone image looking suspiciously stretched out, you know what we’re talking about.
The Lifestyle Shot
Ah, the lifestyle shot — the perfect opportunity to give your suitors a peek into what a day with you would look like. What are your passions? What are your favorite activities? Lay it all out and show off your personality. Bring out your playful side by blowing bubbles into the camera or hula-hooping, or let your hobbies come out and play. Are you a writer? A violinist? Give your matches a peek into those parts of your life.
According to Sloboda, this is the space to let go of perfection and just focus on storytelling. Pick a photo that captures what gets you enthused about life. Showcase an activity from your latest travels, or include a candid from karaoke or bowling night. What do you want your Tinder crush to inquire about? Your lifestyle shot should provide quality opening line ammunition.
Love that family portrait where you’re all dressed up for your parents’ anniversary or the photo of your siblings being a ball of goofiness at Thanksgiving dinner? There’s no harm in including those images, says Kang. Just make sure that it’s easy to identify your companions as family — and maybe avoid those pics where you’re cheek-to-cheek with someone that could be your sister…but also could be your girlfriend. As for furry friends, they’re always welcome. Just brace yourself for lots of “is it yours?” questions.
The Full-Body Shot
The full-body shot is a bit controversial when it comes to online dating. The general consensus seems to be that they are an important part of setting up someone’s image of you, if only to be able to gauge your personal style and body language. On the other hand, some people don’t feel comfortable sharing quite that much before meeting someone IRL. And others maintain that expecting a full-body image makes the process too looks-obsessed and shallow. Whether or not you feel like your profile can benefit from including this image is up to you. If you’re game, though, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
For this image, angles are particularly important, so take note of where your camera is. Objects closest to the camera will always appear larger, and a slightly elevated camera angle while standing can offer a slimming effect, if that’s what you’re after, says Ford. “Pay attention to how you hold yourself. Keep limbs spaced from the body, face pinkies forward over thumbs, and watch your posture,” he adds.
The Group Shot
The group shot is also a matter of personal preference. Some people love showing off their best friends, but oftentimes it can leave the person on the other end wondering which person their potential match is. The four photographers we spoke with are not fans. But we won’t tell you how to live your life.
If you’re excited about including a group shot in your profile, make sure that the photo is not only in focus, but also that you are the focal point of the image. Position yourself in the center of the photo or wear an outfit, accessory, or lip color that stands out from the pack. It always helps if you’re genuinely excited about the people you’re interacting with — canned smiles are a big no-no — and the entire group is looking at the same camera.
So here’s the plan for this weekend: Go out there, seize the day, and refresh your profile with some quality photography. Your matches are waiting.