Dating guides and tips

How to Choose the Right Profile Picture for Your Dating Profile

When it comes down to it, the way we experience the online world is predominantly through a visual medium. Whether that comes in the form of advertising images to encourage a click, quick videos to offer a little laugh or relief, or simply pictures to remind us of memorable life-events alongside places we might like to travel someday—the starting point of all our scrolling revolves around something visually appealing to capture our attention.

And when it comes to a dating profile, choosing the right image to express yourself and who you are to a prospective partner is no different.

While you never want to lie, you do want to show yourself in the best light, displaying the attributes you are most proud of. You want the image to help embody who you are as a person and, in a way, entice any would-be romantic interest into selecting you in the hopes of learning more.

With that in mind, there are a few sure-fire ways to ensure that your profile picture does well to express who you are, and also finds you more than a few matches to explore. To help out in your journey to find love, here is our list of tips for How to Choose the Right Profile Picture for Your Dating Profile:

1. Avoid Selfies

Let’s knock this one out first—it’s almost never a good idea to do a typical selfie picture for your profile. While selfies are of course the easiest pictures to take, they also can be the easiest ones to scroll by. Therefore, make a small mental note to never use that out-of-focus selfie in front of the bathroom mirror in hopes that somebody clicks.

The only time a selfie is recommended if it’s in conjunction with a few other profile pictures, and if the background looks scenic or you’re standing in front of some famous monument like the Eifel Tower (then at least you appear well-traveled). Other than those particular instances, please avoid selfies.

2. Give a Natural Smile

The second thing to remember is perhaps the simplest but also the most effective—show your natural smile. If that happens to be a wide-mouthed grin and your eyes practically shut from sheer joy—that’s still better than the raised eyebrow ‘Blue Steel’ look from Zoolander.

That being said, don’t be afraid to show teeth. People feel happy when they see other people happy—after all, laughter is contagious. While it might be tempting to act performatively, it really is the best idea to show an authentic representation of you smiling. Don’t reach for the perfect grin, just let it happen in the same way it might when you finally meet that special someone.

3. Be Alone in the Picture

So, there is a little nuance with this tip. For example, if you have multiple pictures on your profile, it’s best to be sure that the first one has you and you alone. You never want to confuse a prospective partner by showing you along with three friends so that they have to play the guessing game.

That said, even if you feel hesitant about putting up a picture of you alone, the alternative is coming across as disingenuous. So throw a picture of you as your most unabashed self for that first picture, and if your profile has the option for more—feel free to add some with friends because being social is something you cherish as a person. Always look for opportunities to express values!

4. Use a Good Quality Photo

Now, when it comes to specifics of the actual photo, these next three tips are very important.

First, make sure you have a good-quality, high-resolution photo. As mentioned before, try your best to avoid the selfies, but make sure that whatever picture you post, it has a certain visual clarity to it. Even if you don’t have the most high-end camera around, a majority of smartphone cameras nowadays have the megapixels to do just fine.

With that in mind, think of what pictures stop your scrolling. Maybe you went on a vacation to a beautiful beach, maybe you found yourself between the skyscrapers of New York—whatever the picture happens to be, if you need a measure, ask yourself if it’s ‘Gram-worthy?’

5. Find the Right Lighting

In another attempt to ensure the profile picture has an almost professional vibe (something you might throw as a headshot on LinkedIn), be sure that the image you use is well-lit. A prospective partner no doubt wants to see as much of your face as possible and, in that way, it’s important to make sure your face isn’t hidden in shadows or framed in a night-time shot.

To keep your lovely face well-lit, try taking your profile picture outside during the daylight, with the sun closer to dawn or dusk to really put a glow upon your features. While a small change, the vividness that comes from good lighting can stop a scroller in their tracks and encourage them to explore further.

6. Be Judicious with Filters

And last for the actual clarity of the photo, make sure you don’t use those ever-popular Snapchat filters in your profile picture. As amazing as you might look with a youthful filter, or one that replaces any smile wrinkles with soft edges—it won’t be an honest representation of who you are.

People want a sense of what you really look like, show them!

And, in that same frame of mind, make sure any filters you do choose are tasteful. While a black and white photo can be stunning in its chiaroscuro effect—an overly-contrasted Instagram filter might not work to the same effect.

7. Be Active

In moving on to the content of your picture, a wonderful idea is to be active in the image. When it comes to how, this is a great opportunity to show your favorite hobbies or interests.

If you love surfing, stand next to a board on the beach—if you love hiking, take a picture at the summit of whichever mountain you just climbed.

That said, if you have the opportunity for multiple pictures on your profile—it’s great to add a variety of activities to fully display your interests. However, if you only have one picture, make sure that the active shot has you fully in frame—and you can hardly ever go wrong with a candid laugh.

8. Know Your Best Angles

Though we want to avoid too much talk about what outfit, or clothes make you look best, or stand out the most—it is still important when framing a picture to know which side you feel captures you best.

In that regard, we all look in a mirror—which side or head tilt do you like to see the most?

Though it can be strange to analyze, one of the most important things your profile picture can do is to ensure that you, yourself, feel confident in how you look.

Even with all these factors, the heart of this advice can be summarized in one phrase: show yourself when you feel your best self!

9. Don’t Focus on the Background

One of the most common things you might see on a dating site, other than selfies, is a number of people who try to hide themselves in the background. This is often done by either looking away from the camera, or making the wonderful vista the focal point of the image.

                                                  Avoid this temptation—don’t hide in the background.         

The people scrolling want to find you, not the places you’ve been or the activities you do. If they don’t like what they see then it’s not worth pursuing anyway. And, though you might not believe it, there is someone out there that will come alive just seeing an image of you and your natural smile alone.

10. Show Yourself Honestly

And finally, as a culmination all the other tips, show yourself honestly. Whatever picture or series of pictures you choose—don’t augment them to hide who you are. Don’t use an app that might fade wrinkles or a filter that might alter complexion to the point of unrecognizable.

Though it’s tempting to show a ‘better’ version of yourself on a dating profile, in the same way it’s common to do so on social media—it isn’t a ‘better’ version at all.

The person who is scrolling wants to find exactly who it is that you want and know who you are—if you change both of those things, you’ll end up with people you don’t actually connect with.

 Sure, you might get more pings and alerts, but the connections you find might be less substantial. Or worse, a great match for you might have hesitations in trusting how you’ve portrayed yourself.


The underlying thought process in choosing the right profile picture is to have that picture express who you are and what you value in the most honest way. To do that means to take a good-quality picture, and to have that picture focus on the real beauty of the image: you!

Choose a picture or pictures that shows you as your most confident self. Choose images that display your interests, and that show your values.

If you love sports, let the person know! If you love your family or your dog, let them know that too!

But the most important thing to remember is be honest with the image you offer, so you can create an honest connection with whoever clicks on it.