A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 25)

Don't overdo it

A picture’s worth a thousand words… but 10 pictures are a waste of time.  Now that Facebook has taken over the world, when it comes to online dating profiles, people often confuse the concept of posting just a few flattering pictures with posting a whole album.  I have no doubt that your pictures from your trip to Greece with you standing on the Acropolis are amazing… just remember, there’s a time and a place for them, and that place is not JDate.

When choosing which photos to put in your online dating profile, use these five rules of thumb:

  1. Less is more

JDate allows 12 pictures, and Match.com allows a whopping 26!  When I used JDate in the olden days (aka before the recent format change), only four pictures were allowed.  I believe this was for the better.  Let’s say I have eight photos of myself on JDate.  In four of them, I look really cute; in two, I look just ok; and in the remaining two, for one reason or another, I just don’t look as good.  My potential suitor may think I’m the gal for him based on the first couple of pictures alone, but by the time he gets to #8, he’s already dismissed me, thinking that those two bad pictures reflect what I actually look like.

Two great photos win over four or more mediocre photos any day.  People will look for the one bad one and decide not to e-mail you because of it.

  1. Have at least one clear “face” photo

If you don’t have at least one clear face photo as your main profile picture, your profile will scream, “Hiding something!” or “What – this person can’t even have a friend snap a good picture?”  You really don’t want someone not to click on you because he or she can’t see what you look like.

Blurry photos don’t help anyone, and they do hurt you.

  1. Be by yourself in the shot

A client recently told me that someone e-mailed her on Match.com asking if he could have her friend’s information.  She was confused for a moment and then realized that he had looked at her pictures, one of which included some friends, and concluded that her friend would be the woman of his dreams.

You’re already being compared to others on the site, so do not give someone the chance to compare you to the other people in your own profile.  If you’re trying to show that you have friends or are social, just say so. 

Two caveats: Children – only if they are your own, and pets – but again, don’t borrow Fido from your neighbor.  The children/pet rule can backfire if they are not yours.  For example, for a woman in her 30s, a picture of a child makes it look like she wants kids ASAP.

  1. Have one photo where you are doing something interesting

I had a photo of myself singing the National Anthem in my online dating profile.  I got daily e-mails asking where I was singing and how I got the gig.  It gave people the “in” they needed to strike up a conversation.

Many people have no idea what to say in the initial e-mail, so give them something easy to comment about, or “e-mail bait.”

  1. Be accurate

It happens all the time where you go on a date, and the person looks nothing like his or her photos and profile had indicated.  Don’t lie about your looks… enough said.

It’s better to have someone meet you in person and think, “He/she is much better-looking than the photos,” not, “Wow – those photos were a lie… or taken five years ago!” 

And the biggest photo myth: Professional photos are frowned upon.  Wrong!  (Just make sure they are in a natural setting.)  If you look good, no one will care who took the pictures or whether you paid for them.  They’ll just be happy they found someone as good-looking as you are.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for JDate.com.