Charlotte Bridge, 06.15.2016

Master the art of taking good profile pictures: The ultimate guide

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If you want someone to get a true indication of your character it is important that it’s captured through good profile pictures. With the help of expert photographer Toby Aiken, we have compiled a step-by-step guide to ensure your online presence consists of flattering photos that accentuate your best side, so that people can get to know the real you online.

Good profile pictures aptly tell your story; they enable your personality and interests to shine through. When done properly they are a very good way to attract the type of people you want to be meeting; like-minded, intelligent individuals. However when done badly, they can give an inaccurate impression of your character and most likely you won’t meet the type of people you want to. First impressions are everything, which is why we created this guide to make sure you’re representing yourself effectively and correctly.

Why do good profile pictures matter?

Research has shown that the only thing worse than a bad profile picture is no photo at all. A lack of photos instantly alienates a huge amount of online daters because it makes them question why you want to hide the way you look. Those serious about online dating want to have a complete and accurate profile of those they will potentially date. Of course it’s natural to feel self conscious about elements of your appearance but everyone feels this. There’s nothing more attractive than confidence and a picture of you smiling happily can only be received well.

Toby Aiken, who is a professional in this field, suggests having profile pictures is vital for a good dating profile for two important reasons. Firstly, ‘whether we care to admit it or not, the first thing that we look at is appearance.’ Of course it’s natural to wander about the way a potential partner looks. Of course people will not base their entire decision on a photo but it is a good way to get an overview of the person you’re speaking to online.

Secondly, good profile pictures are a useful way to back up the impression you have created on your online dating profile. As Aiken explains: ’it’s important to make sure your profile picture says the right things about you. If your profile says you enjoy quiet nights in watching a movie, and your profile picture was taken on a rare wild night out or a friend’s hen do then it’s not going to help your search!’ As many singles are looking for like-minded partners, it is pretty essential that your profile pictures show the true you. That way you’ll attract the kind of people you want to.

Evidently, good profile pictures do matter. But how do you make them both memorable and flattering? Follow our six step guide, compiled together with Toby Aiken.

1. Get comfortable

The best photos are those which look natural. In order to avoid seemingly forced shots pick a place in which you feel comfortable and at ease. Aiken recommends being photographed in your house or garden because it’s somewhere where you feel relaxed and this will show in your picture.

He maintains ‘the key to taking a good photograph is making sure that you are comfortable in your surroundings. Whether that means taking the photo in your living room, or with a professional backdrop, if you are familiar with your surroundings, then you will be more relaxed and take a better photo...Consciously relax your muscles and try to go with a natural smile.’ Confidence is key in real life and equally in photos. If you feel attractive as the photos are taken you’re sure to have some good profile pictures.

2. Think about the background too

Of course you are the focus of your photo and it’s important that you keep it that way! Aiken advises; ’If you go for a shot in your lounge, make sure the background is relatively tidy – we’re not talking catalogue shoot clean, but just take a look and maybe tidy that pile of washing you were meaning to deal with and make sure the curtains are straight.’ You don’t want your dirty laundry to take the focus off you after all.

Think about your outfit for the photo. Busy patterns can complicate the image and detract the attention from you. Aiken suggests that color blocking can be very effective and bright colors are also a good way to maintain focus. Just avoid doing too much at once. Choose one bold item and stick with that (women – red clothing tends to be most eye catching to men). Don’t mix and match bold and patterns and remove the focus from your face.

3. Don’t fall in to the typical picture traps

While it may be tempting to wear revealing clothing in your photos, this is one of the most counter-productive things you can do. In a recent EliteSingles survey, a vast amount of members indicated that revealing pictures was one of the most off-putting things on a profile. The few that do find it attractive who subsequently get in touch with you are probably not people you want to be dating.

Equally, sunglasses, hats, & other people in your photo are also profile picture no-nos. Poor photo-shopping is also a classic picture trap. Keep it simple. The focus is you so don’t include a load of distractions in your profile pictures.

4. Eye contact

It’s all about the eyes. As Aiken advises, ’the single most important thing in a portrait photo is that the focus should be on the eyes. If your eyes are in perfect sharp focus the overall photo will look good.’ Your eyes are filled with emotion which will reveal a lot about your personality (this is also why sunglasses are such a big no-no). You can emphasize playfulness through your eyes which will open a little window into what you’re like. Having good profile pictures means strong eye contact with the lens; let the person looking at the photo feel a connection to you.

5. Lighting is everything

Lighting is essential for good profile pictures. Get it right and all your best features will be beautifully highlighted and emphasized. Get it wrong however and you could age yourself 10 years.  Aiken suggests that lighting can make or break a photo. He suggests the best technique is to ‘get outside, open the curtains and try to use natural light when you can. Flashes can be harsh if not controlled properly so if you are taking the photo yourself or with a friend, try to avoid flash and compensate with natural light.’

The best time of day in terms of lighting is the morning or late afternoon. This will create a natural glow on your face and make your skin look its best. Try to avoid actually facing the sun because let’s be honest, squinting is never particularly sexy.

6. Consider getting the professionals in

It may sound a little extreme, but there’s nothing better for your confidence than professional photos of you that capture your best side. Furthermore, as not many people use them on their dating profiles, it would naturally make you stand out.

Aiken recommends this method to settle your nerves of picking good profile pictures. He says that ‘a good photographer will make you feel comfortable, and take a good selection of images, and adjust accordingly, making sure you are happy with the result. The lighting will flatter, the background will not distract, and they can make sure you look yourself – very important for your online profile!’

Feeling inspired? Ready to get started with the online adventure? Register with EliteSingles today.

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