Look Fabulous In Your Photo!

Want to look just plain irresistible online? Here, ph otography pros share their tricks for taking a perfect profile pic.

By Lisa Cericola

ow many of us really relish digging through snapshots of ourselves to find our best angle... or want to spend time posing for a portrait? Usually, that’s not too high on the average person’s to-do list, but when you’re online dating, a good photo is vital. Witty profiles and shared interests aside, a person’s photo is usually what makes them stand out online. So how to get one with a minimum of effort? All it takes is a little camera know-how... and knowing what works online. Here, professional photographers and an online-dating expert reveal tips for taking pictures that’ll get you the attention you deserve.

Get the lighting right
“Lighting is a key factor for a good photo,” says photographer Mindy Stricke, owner of SingleShots (, a business devoted to taking portraits for online dating sites. “Flattering light draws others to a profile photo, and they don’t even know why half the time.” Since natural light is much better than indoor lighting, get
One common photo faux pas? Putting too much distance between you and the camera.
out of the house and into nature, suggests Elizabeth Horne, who teaches classes on taking portraits and owns her own studio, Elizabeth Horne Photography ( “Find a local park, beach, or even your backyard,” she says. If the weather won’t cooperate or you’d still prefer an indoor shot, look for an area that gets a lot of natural light from a window.

One of the most popular misconceptions people have, says Stricke, is that bright sunlight is best. Truth is, strong rays can create harsh shadows and make you look older—especially around high noon when the sun is directly above you. A better bet? Wait until the evening when the sun is lower in the sky, or for an overcast day.

Get up close and personal
Another common photo faux pas? Putting too much distance between you and the camera, says Roman Griffen, author of Internet Dating: Tips, Tricks and Tactics. “When the picture you post was taken from across the street or you’re a blip on your front porch, the purpose of posting it—letting people see what you look like—is defeated,” he points out. For your primary photo, a headshot is great, but do include other photos that show more of what you look like. If you only have a headshot, cautions Griffen, “It looks as if you’re hiding something. People will wonder, ‘What does this person look like below the neck?’” Your best bet: Include a full-body shot among your secondary photos. Combined, these photos will leave little of your looks to guesswork, which puts many an online dater at ease and makes them more apt to get in touch.

Banish common flubs
To get the most flattering shot, consider these pointers: Prevent the dreaded double chin by turning your head slightly to one side, and having your photographer shoot you from a little bit above you. To avoid the “I am controlled by aliens” red-eye effect, focus your gaze on a specific spot behind the camera—it will prevent your irises from dilating and appearing red from the flash.

Look your trimmest
While it may seem natural to face the camera when posing for your pic, head-on shots are rarely flattering since your shoulders and hips will appear at
Above all, feeling comfortable is the key to getting a great photo.
their widest. So, take a cue from Hollywood’s red carpet events, and try this more flattering option: “In general, it’s best to stand at a 45 degree angle to the camera, with one foot pointing towards the camera and one pointing out at an angle,” says Stricke. “With your hips facing the side, then turn your torso a little more toward the camera. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t.”

Dress to impress
It’s a crucial question: What to wear? No matter your fashion preference, Horne recommends people steer clear of clothes with big patterns and lots of accessories, since all of these can distract viewers from the real subject of the photo: You. So, stick to solid colors that flatter your eye color or complexion, and even if you gravitate toward more neutral tones, take at least one photo in a bright color. “This ‘pops’ you out of the background and can attract more attention on a search page,” says Stricke.

And, when it comes to accessories, make sure to pass on sunglasses and hats, no matter how cool you think you look. According to Griffen, these items appear way too often in online pics and don’t exactly up your cool factor, since they can mask so much of your face—the very thing people are dying to see.

Show off your smile
Everyone loves a big, warm smile—in fact, Griffen says it’s the first thing people notice when browsing through profiles. “If people see someone not smiling, they jump to a conclusion that they’re negative or trying to hide something, like bad teeth,” he says. However, it doesn’t hurt to experiment and capture a variety of different expressions. Laugh, try a small smile, or don’t smile at all. You might be surprised at how some looks are more flattering than others. For inspiration, try this trick from Stricke: Pretend you’re looking across a room at someone you find attractive. You’ll feel—and look—much more flirtatious in your photo.

Above all, feeling comfortable is the key to getting a great photo. Why not ask a good friend to take some photos of you with a digital camera—then you know you’ll be at ease. To get in a more relaxed state of mind, try putting on one of your favorite CDs or having a glass of wine. “Have a conversation with the photographer—that’s what models do to stay looking relaxed rather than stiff,” suggests Horne. “People tend to think portraits are formal affairs, but some of the best come when you’re not even trying.” And don’t call it quits after a few shots. “This is the age of the digital camera—take dozens of photos!” says Stricke. “Many people take only a handful of pictures and then despair that they’re not photogenic. With the right lighting, angles, and some trial and error, you’ll be able to get a photo that represents you well.”

Lisa Cericola is a writer in the New York City area. She’s pretty camera-shy but hopes to get over that by trying some the tricks above.
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