How to choose the best profile picture for a dating / matchmaking app?

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Gemini Generated Image

Picture this: You're swiping through a dating app, and you pause. Not because of a flashy bio or a list of shared interests, but because of a profile picture that just... clicks.

It has happened to me, and probably to you too.

That's the power of a profile picture – it's not just a photo; it's a story, a first impression, and sometimes, a reason to say 'hello'.

I remember the time I changed my profile picture from a casual selfie to a shot of me hiking. The difference in responses made my day!

This little anecdote underlines an unspoken truth in the world of online dating: your profile picture can be a game-changer. If you know what to aim for that is.

So how does one not have a great body, six packs, best moves, fancy cars, and still seem interesting? The answer is simple: by not trying to be it.

Brace yourself, today we’re going to be busting some myths and along the way, share some key insights that can give you a boost in your profile visibility just by understanding the nuances of uploading a profile picture that sticks.

TLDR

Instead of catering to a larger unengaged audience through generic pictures, make sure to emphasize your quirks or faults that truly make you unique. It’s better to get varied and strong reactions from an interested group by being your authentic self than trying to fit in a bigger, more conventional crowd.

Tania Mousinho via Unsplash

Knowing the Purpose of Your Profile Picture

When diving into the world of online dating, your profile picture is essentially like the cover of your personal storybook.

It's what invites someone to dive deeper into your profile, to uncover the chapters of your life. The key is finding that sweet spot where your picture reflects you and also draws people in.

Think of the profile picture as a visual elevator pitch.

It's not just about looking good; it's about conveying a snippet of your personality.

Are you adventurous? A photo of you on a mountain trail says so. Love cooking? A picture in the kitchen, and an apron on, could be your secret ingredient.

But remember, authenticity is key. While the temptation will be there to choose that one photo where you look like a Hollywood movie star, if it doesn't represent the real you, then people aren’t interested.

They may not be able to do so consciously, but unconsciously they’ll choose someone who they believe exists as a human being (while keeping a little mystery alive)

Recommended Read: The A-Z guide to dating on dating apps for Indians

Choose Right Photos

Selecting the perfect photograph for your dating profile is similar to selecting an outfit for a first date.

It falls in the middle of showcasing that maximum best version of yourself and just being real you.

You have plenty to choose from here: opt for the evergreen selfie, a casual click, or maybe something professionally done. But then again – at times, it is far more attractive to embrace yourself with all the slight fault lines.

First off, let’s talk about selfies.

They're great because you have full control – angle, lighting, and expression. But beware of the hideous 'selfie syndrome' whereby everything looks too posed.

Candid shots, now are the gems that can catch you at the moment – laughing at a joke, engrossed in a book, or playing with your dog. This is like gold as it catches you in your natural habitat living life and being so effortlessly.

But does the same go for professional photos? Yeah, they look great but sometimes are a bit too posed in a dating profile. It’s not advisable to use them unless you want to be adored from far away.

And about those quirks – maybe you have a weird laugh? Or perhaps you're a lover of funky hats. Wear it!

For photos that are enticing and a great conversation starter, it could be you in a silly costume or mid-laughter. It tells people you like to have fun and that can be very appealing.

And remember to avoid photos where, if at all, you aren't the main focus, like group shots or with your face obscured.

Oh and those old photos? They might be grave memories but unless they convey who you are today, that ain't it for your profile.

Even an interesting, or unusual background can also add intrigue to a profile picture by suggesting some kind of story or unusual element of the person's life.

Recommended Read: Understanding Anxiety and Stress in Early Dating

The concept of variance

In his book "Dataclysm," Christian Rudder, co-founder of the dating app OkCupid, talks about how some flaws in the picture that a user shows in his profile can make him, paradoxically, seem more attractive.

It is based on the idea that uniqueness or something distinct from what others may find to be a typical characteristic appealing is, in fact, such.

Let’s say I take two women (as an example refer to the two women below), and let both be rated by five men on a scale from 1-5.

Now let’s say for the first woman, all men rate her 3. This means that she is conventionally good-looking, and has an average score of 3.

For the second woman, 2 men rated her a 1, one rated her a 3, and 2 rated her a 5.

Even for her, the average is 3, but the latter shows more variance.

Variance means, by definition, that more people like you a lot (as well as dislike you a lot), pushing you to many extremes and making you stand out to those enthusiastic guys who are the ones engaging the most.

This is also to say that to some degree, her very flaws are what makes her attractive to him.

And her flaws call out the good stuff all the more making her more attractive simply by being more human.

That subtle hint of imperfection makes her approachable. Even though I just gave an example of a woman, it holds equally true for the guys as well.

Now, between the two women below, who do you find more attractive?

First woman (conventionally attractive, posing with less variance)

Meritt Thomas Unsplash

Second woman (in her natural element, eating like a badass, high variance)

Abdalla m Unsplash

Rudder emphasizes that such characteristics might stir stronger emotions, more decidedly positive or negative emotions, and therefore have a net effect on the profile of eliciting less but stronger messages.

This phenomenon is consistent with the idea that attracting a more discerning, smaller group may be more appealing for resonance than this broad sweep approach to a less engaging audience.

So it’s important to own your flaws, and seem comfortable in one’s own skin rather than being uncomfortable in a conventional outfit.

Embracing personality flaws

Personality flaws are those obvious traits that even if you manage to hide in your pictures, will definitely be exposed within the first meeting.

Let’s say you have a few extra pounds, or you have snarky facial expressions. That will make you stand out and make you seem approachable and even desirable (given that you can own them in your pictures)

Or let's say you have bizarre fashion choices. That quirky socks or radically expressive choices in clothing or accessories can make a profile noticeably different and emphasize individuality.

The same goes for body art, including tattoos and unusual piercings.

Maybe you have less hair that you wish people didn’t see, or maybe you have a mole that you don’t want people to see.

You see fit to edit these out in your pictures. Only to see your entire credibility go down as and when the truth is revealed in real life.

The app Dahlia, encourages its users to comfortably own their personality quirks and share them in their pictures.

Non-Standard Poses or Expressions: The two don't have to be the usual smiling portrait of people, non-standard poses or very interesting quirky expressions can draw people's eyes and be expressive that one doesn't have a guarded filtered kind of personality.

Conclusion

In the digital world of swipes and likes, your profile picture is your handshake, your smile, and your opening line all rolled into one.

Remember, the best profile picture doesn't scream 'flawless'; it whispers 'authentic'.

It's not about concealing your quirks; it's about celebrating them. Whether it's a candid shot that captures your few extra pounds or a selfie with your beloved pet, the right picture is the one that feels true to you.

As you pick your profile picture, think of it as a window into your world.

It's an opportunity to show potential matches a slice of your life, your interests, and what makes you uniquely you. And most importantly, have fun with it! Online dating is an adventure, and your profile picture is just the beginning of your journey.

So go ahead, and choose a picture that represents not just your face, but your story. Because in the end, that's what people are swiping right for – not just a face, but a connection, a story, a possibility.

Happy clicking, and remember – every picture tells a story. Make sure yours tells yours the way you want it to be heard.

Next recommended read: How to Come Up with the Best Bio for Indian Dating Apps

Author's Bio

Anurag is a filmmaker turned farmer turned entrepreneur. Originally from Faridabad, Haryana, he loves to read and write on the subjects of relationships, free will, faith, and similar 'delusions' that collectively make us human.
Having written and directed several films before, and then working with farmers in revolutionizing their supply chain, Anurag has now landed on his latest venture called Dahlia, a new-age matchmaking app that uses games to foster purposeful intimacy. His deep knowledge of human relationships coupled with scientific research has helped hundreds of individuals navigate the landscape of modern romance with authenticity and confidence.

Author's Bio

Anurag is a filmmaker turned farmer turned entrepreneur. Originally from Faridabad, Haryana, he loves to read and write on the subjects of relationships, free will, faith, and similar 'delusions' that collectively make us human.
Having written and directed several films before, and then working with farmers in revolutionizing their supply chain, Anurag has now landed on his latest venture called Dahlia, a new-age matchmaking app that uses games to foster purposeful intimacy. His deep knowledge of human relationships coupled with scientific research has helped hundreds of individuals navigate the landscape of modern romance with authenticity and confidence.

Anurag Gulati Headshot

Anurag Gulati

Anurag Gulati Headshot

Anurag Gulati

Anurag Gulati Headshot
Anurag Gulati Headshot

Anurag Gulati

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