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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

Online Dating Profile Photo Tips

Quick Access:
Tips on Creating a Better Online Dating Profile Photo

How can I look better in my online dating profile photos?


This is a great and practical question, because it’s well known in the industry that online dating profiles with photos get more attention than ones without – and further – those with good photos that show you off well are more effective than ones with poor quality photos.

The sophisticated yet affordable cameras that are available nowadays enable nearly everyone to have an excellent quality photograph for their online dating profile. However, the technicalities of picture quality are one issue and “aesthetics” of the person are another. Even the most alluring and photogenic individuals can look unflattering in the wrong pose and under the wrong lighting.

According to, there are five common “opportunities to look unflattering” when it comes to taking your own photographs. Here are the secrets to combat each one:

1. Looking less rigid.
The secret here is to get a good friend to be the photographer, so you are as comfortable as possible. To further keep the mood light, talk about a topic you both may find of interest. If you’re focused on something other than the photo, you’ll appear less rigid and more natural. You can also lean against something or interact with a pet or other appropriate prop. Also, try not to keep your hands right by your sides. Instead, clasp them in the front or in the back, or hold on to your eyeglasses to help relax your body.

2. Minimizing visible wrinkles and shiny skin.
Foundation for women and translucent powder for men are quick fixes, but the real secret is to get as much light on your face as possible. Pose near the closest light source, like a window, if you’re indoors. Also, use a flash inside and outside because the flash will illuminate your skin and help conceal facial imperfections. Finally, make the most of your scenery. For example, photographs taken on a white sandy beach or a snow-covered surface tend to be more flattering because the reflective qualities of those surfaces help de-emphasize wrinkles and pockmarks. Of course, some scenery is just not practical for online dating profiles, but you get the idea.

3. Getting rid of double chin.
Professional photographers say that the secret here is to pay attention to the camera position. If the lens is at your eye level or above, you’re in the right frame. If the lens is below your eye level, then you run the risk of looking like you have an extra chin. One trick is to bend your knees so you’re at least on an even plane with the photographer (assuming it’s not a full-body photo). If you’re significantly taller than the photographer, sit in a chair and look up toward the camera.

4. Overcoming fake smiles.
For goodness sake…don’t say “cheese.” This typically produces an artificial smile. Instead, ask the photographer to throw out an unexpected word or phrase, like “chasity belt” or “opossum pot pie.” This will usually elicit a genuine laugh, and your expression won’t look forced or unnatural. Also, you can think of something funny yourself to elicit a natural smile. Lastly, some models suggest that if you’re self-conscious or critical of your smile, practicing before a photo shoot can be helpful.

5. Fixing “red eye”.
Glance at a lamp or the nearest light source right before the photo is taken. This is because red-eye usually occurs in a dim room when the irises have opened up so much that the retinas, which are red with blood vessels, light up when the flash hits them. When the pupils affix on something bright, they shrink, reducing the potential for red-eye.

What you have here are techniques to make yourself as attractive as possible. That’s completely different than posting photographs of yourself that are two years older or more. Never mislead anyone about your appearance like that. You might not have changed that much over the years, but often people do. A good quality, recent photograph is the best strategy. So, choose the best camera you can, choose the colors that convey both the mood and personality you want and note the simple guidelines above to avoid unflattering poses. And, be sure to post more than one photo. Following these suggestions will get you noticed!

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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