A picture is worth a thousand words, goes the old saying. What do you want to say with your profile photos? In this post, I’ll suggest some key questions that you need to ask before planning your profile photos for a dating app such as Hinge, Tinder or Bumble. Don’t upload any old photos, promising yourself you’ll get better ones later: new people on a dating app get boosted so more people will see your profile at the beginning and you don’t want to waste that opportunity.

1. What will your ideal person be looking for?

Your profile is for them, not for you – so think about who they will be intrigued by or feel an affinity with. Do you want to show that you are adventurous, active and full of energy and drive? Then include a photo with you doing something outside. A path, mountains or a bridge over a river could indicate a sense of exploration and movement.

Or if you are more of an ideas person, who likes deep and meaningful conversations, have a photo of you reading a book or in a bookshop or library.

2. What would it be like to be on a date with you?

Photo by klickme.co.uk

When daters are browsing a profile, they are essentially asking themselves the question “What would it be like to be with this person?” So your photos should convey warmth and trust. That could mean smiling, looking natural, or communicating sincerity and a little vulnerability through the mouth and eyes.

3. What would it be like to be loved by you?

Cory, who runs the photography service Klick Me, suggests that an affectionate shot – perhaps involving hugging or stroking an animal – is another way to convey warmth. If you’re not an animal person, you could try a relaxed pose on a sofa with blankets and cushions, watering a plant (a form of nurturing!), or holding a hot drink. (Check out some more of Cory’s tips here.)

4. What would it be like to relax with you?

People can be anxious about dating, so making them feel calm and relaxed while they’re looking at your profile will be valued. They want to feel they would be in safe hands with you, that there won’t be drama, that you represent stability and a reassuring presence. No one can be like that all the time, of course, but your profile photos can have a positive effect on their mood. Photos that show you relaxing in nature, in a comfortable chair, in the sun or doing something absorbing or creative are all good for this.

5. What would it be like to walk with you?

When people imagine a date, they often imagine walking, talking and laughing together, perhaps because a walk is a metaphor for accompanying each other on life’s journey. So a full length shot is useful, as well as a shot that involves laughter.

Should I get professional photos taken for my dating profile?

It’s very difficult to get good quality photos yourself. Selfies are an absolute no-no for many reasons. It’s quite easy to tell if a photo is a selfie: your face is distorted, your arm will change your position, and you’ll be using the front camera of your phone which gives reduced quality. It’s good to ask friends to take photos when you’re out socialising, but they aren’t experts, and there will often be distracting objects, people or mess in the picture, as well as not getting the face in the right part of the shot.

The Swedish sociologist Maria Bergström, in her excellent book about online dating, The New Laws of Love, analyses profile pictures in terms of class. People with high cultural capital do not take photos in their bathrooms or kitchens, or selfies. They carefully curate all the objects that will be in the photo, use lighting to enhance the effects they aim to create and treat the photo as a composition, like a work of art. Of course there is a fine line between curated and artificial. But getting some professional photos done could be the answer: a nuanced photographer who understands what is needed for a dating profile can make them look authentic and natural, and bring out the best in you.

If you’re in London, take advantage of a 10% discount on a photography package with Cory, using code RACH10 here.