In advance of creating, I spent a lot of time looking at other dating sites, trying to determine what is being done well and what is simply a turn-off.  Time and time again I was appalled by the quality (or rather, the lack thereof) of the photos.  And I am NOT referring to the person in the photo; I am referring to the way in which they are shot.
Before you think, “Well, what the hell does this person know about photos?”, I will simply tell you this:  I have been a talent agent in Hollywood for many years.  As such, I have viewed literally thousands of actor head shots – some great (the kind that make you want to meet the person), some passable (well, maybe this person can at least act) and some just god-awful (oh, puh-leeze!).  I am also a lifelong artist, with an artist’s eye.  That combination gives me a perspective on your photos that perhaps other dating sites cannot offer:  A professional opinion, coupled with the ability to see your photos through another’s eyes.
So, try to trust me.  I’m here to help you succeed as much as I possibly can and I will not mince words.


Here’s what selfies tell me about you:

  • – The lighting is always bad – either too dark or too bright (over-exposed) – and either way, a lot of your face is obscured.  Is this deliberate?  Or do you simply not have a clue?
  • – You think that by wearing dark glasses, you will seem more alluring?  Wrong, wrong, wrong!
  • – You have access to a car.  So what?  Why are so many selfies shot inside a car?!
  • – You have no idea how to crop a photo.  People want to see YOU, not a wall of paintings behind you, or the marina you were visiting, or a party you were attending (hey! who are those other people?).
  • – FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, what are you thinking when you take a selfie in the BATHROOM, shooting into the mirror and showing that you are…shooting into the mirror???
  • – To be blunt, WHY did you not have someone else shoot your photos?!  You don’t need a pro – you need a friend.

My suggestions:

– Never, ever use a selfie as your main shot, no matter how anxious you are to get started.  Far too often, I have seen main shots on other dating sites that are just plain unappealing, yet when I scroll through to see their other shots (because I’m curious), those are frequently far superior.  That tells me the person has little or no self-awareness, or simply doesn’t care.

– Please find someone – anyone! – who will take some shots using your own phone or camera.  Do NOT hire a photography studio to take glamor shots.  Those shots can be totally misleading, in every imaginable way.  But here’s an idea:  Contact your local high schools or colleges and if they have photography classes…post an employment notice, looking for a photographer.  Those students are always looking for subjects to add to their own portfolios.  They will probably charge you very little or nothing at all,  just for the practice.

A few other pointers:

  • – Ladies – leave off the heavy makeup, unless you live in it, night and day.  If you want to have one shot in which you’re “all dressed up”, say for a party, or night on the town, by all means include it, just not as the main shot.
  • – NO photoshopping out those little lines and wrinkles, or your cute freckles (the ones that you hate, but everyone else finds charming).  How do you plan to explain them when you meet someone, uh, face-to-face?
  • – Show some personality – something going on behind your eyes!  This does not mean a huge, toothy grin that reaches all the way to your tonsils (if you still have yours!).

Learn how to crop:  This is very easy to do, even if you are not a “techie” type.  Be brave and try to figure it out for yourself.  If you can’t, ask someone to help you. (Most younger people know how to do this.)  Besides which, it’s fun!

  • Compare this UNcropped shot to the one at the top of this post. We got rid of the distracting flower, too:  it drew our attention away from her face.

  • – Leave just a small space above and around your face.
  • – Crop out all the background “noise”, so that you (not that balding ficus tree behind you) will be the focus of attention.
  • – DO NOT try to crop out your physical “faults” (as you perceive them to be), i.e. if you’re heavy-set, guess what: you are heavy-set!  If you’re balding, so what?  No amount of cropping will alter that.  Fortunately, there are lots of members of the opposite persuasion who not only will not care, they might actually like it – whatever “it” is.
  • – If you want to show your figure or physique, do NOT crop your face from the shot. I’ve seen several shots where that was done and all I can think is…”Uh-oh.  That is somebody else’s body! And what is she or he hiding?”

Not everyone is a smiler.  Yup.  It’s true.  Personally, I would much rather see a twinkle in the eye than a forced smile.  Think of something that amuses you as the camera is snapping away and let that amusement come through in your eyes. (Practice in front of a mirror, in private, and try to make the feeling of that look stick in your mind. Actors call that “sense memory”.)

If you have bad teeth or wear braces (good for you!), or your teeth don’t show when you speak…don’t worry about not having a toothy smile.  A close-mouthed smile should suffice, as long as your eyes take over.

Noses.  Oh, yes, I am…going to address this issue!  Noses are wonderful, especially when they are “imperfect”.  But bad photography can make even an otherwise perfectly average one look distorted.  If yours is on the long side, do NOT shoot your pic from above your face.  Shoot from the same level as the middle of your face.  And if you really dislike your own profile…don’t post a shot of it on a dating site.  To me, that’s a “duh”.

Bottom line:  You are so much more than a nose!  Right?  Right!  Keep that in perspective (no pun intended).

The wrong lighting can ruin your photo.  Unless you, yourself, are an experienced photographer, I can’t really tell you how to control the lighting.  I can, however, tell you to look at your shots and if you see problems, shoot again and try to correct them.  What problems? you ask.  For example:

Most of your face is in shadow.

Your eyes are in so much shadow, they can’t be seen at all.

You were squinting because the light was so bright.

Overly bright light “flattened” out the contours of your face.

The main light is on the top of your head, so your hair (if you have any) is brighter than your face.

If you happen to have very dark coloring, be aware that as all actors know, it is more difficult to light you properly.

Everyone – no matter your coloring – make sure the brightest light is in front of or beside you, not in back of your head.

Again – no matter your coloring, do NOT use a background with similar coloring to your own.  You will disappear into it.

Avoid lots of jewelry, unless, of course, you’re super pierced.

All black clothing may be your style, but it won’t necessarily catch anyone’s eye.  Add at least a touch of bright color, if you dare.

If you’re tattooed and proud of it, you should show at least some of them. 

Tattooed and regretting it?  Too bad.  You’re stuck (no pun…oh, hell! YES, intended!) with them.  You need to decide how much to show.

If you’re in the process of removing your tattoos, just say so.

Although most of those problems occur in outdoor settings, they can also show up indoors.  It is much easier to adjust indoor lighting…hint, hint.

Above:  Needs to be cropped – and lighting is better on the dog than on him!

Check back here once in a while.  If I think of more pointers – or if one of you suggests something interesting – I will update this post.

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