Sunday, May 18, 2014

Looking for Mr. Right (Part Two) 5 Tips from a Professional Photographer

Yesterday, I compared online dating to a RODEO, and told you I had some suggestions for selecting photographs to add to a dating profile. In all fairness to the men, I'm certain we women make some poor choices, too, but as a woman, I only had access to the men's profile pictures. I think my suggestions are appropriate for men AND women.

Today, I'm offering some unsolicited advice to the guys, from a photographer's point of view. 

Disclaimer: In protecting the identity of the subjects of these photographs, I used what was available to me in my editing software, which wasn't much. Yes, I resorted to using the Wingdings font to black out the subject's eyes, which I felt was ironically appropriate for today's topic. If you are still able to identify yourself, sir, or your ex-husband, ma'am, in these photographs, I am sorry. Seriously, I am so, so sorry.

It was this slick email from that lured me into this whole affair. "Want to See Who's Single in Your Area?" the message asked. Well, yes, I did, now that I'd survived the initial trauma of my recent divorce.

Wow. These guys are in my area? I was pretty sure I'd never seen any of them at Walmart or at the feed store, but maybe I hadn't been paying attention. It's obvious they know how to choose a profile picture. (Unless, of course, they're just models. Or posting pics from their "glory days.") 

After I entered the Match website, I entered my match criteria. These guys don't show up in the 50-60 age bracket; go figure. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of handsome men in my age bracket, but there are a few who could use some suggestions to increase their desirability, as far as pictures go.

Choosing pictures for a dating website can be a tricky business. You don't have to look like a model, but we can all agree that putting a little effort into the picture selection process will help you get noticed, hopefully, in a good way.

My point today is not to make fun of anyone (that's for tomorrow's post), but to offer my professional photographer's advice on picture selection. (You doubt I'm a professional? I took my friend's family pictures last Christmas. They gave me some cash so I could go get something to eat after the session. Technically, that makes me a professional.)

Before we start with photographer's tips, let me just offer some friendly advice here. Choosing your pictures when you are sober would be a good start. Choosing pictures from a time in your life when you were sober would be a good idea, too. Seriously, some of the pictures posted make a girl wonder, “What were you thinking?”

PHOTOGRAPHER TIP (also a positive affirmation): Live in the now.

Recent pictures are preferred. Yes, I’m sure you were hot in high school, but now that you are more “mature,” let’s see something from this year, or at the very least, this decade. It's okay if you don't have as much hair, or what's left of it is going grey. Ask yourself, are the younger men posting pictures from elementary school? No. You shouldn't be showcasing your ancient history either.

PHOTOGRAPHER TIP: You should be the focus of the picture, and, in focus, ideally.
Is that you? How can we tell? Give us some proof.
It is suggested that a head shot be used so the face is easily seen, and not hidden from view by a hat or shadows. That advice is totally ignored by many, and some guys post pictures taken from 100 yards away, or of themselves wearing their favorite team’s ball cap, totally obscuring their face.  While it’s nice to know which is your favorite team during during football season, it makes me uncomfortable seeing a face hidden in shadows, much as meeting someone in a dark alley would make me feel. It makes us wonder what else you might be hiding.

Other common suggestions include posting pictures of your doing something you enjoy, you know, ACTIVITIES, like hiking, biking, flag football, pottery class, or playing with your grandkids. Think about this, gents. Just because you enjoy watching TV, that particular picture of you on the couch in your pajama pants is not the best choice for making a good first impression. 

PHOTOGRAPHER TIP: Eliminate distractions in the background.

So you want to show that you are a world-class traveler. That goofy picture your now ex-wife took of you on vacation with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox may be ill-advised. You are aware that a picture of your holding Babe’s testicles is probably not going to help you make the first cut when women are scanning pictures for their future Mr. Right, right?

Maybe you are trying to show the ladies how romantic you are. I’m not sure that the picture of you from your honeymoon taken in the hotel bathroom with the helium-filled balloons hanging over the tub is the way you want to show that. Besides, that’s one less trick you’ll be able to show your Mrs. Right Number Two, if this all goes as planned.

A pleasing background can make a photograph stand out. A distracting background can do the same, in a different way. We all know you love your truck, and a man's home is his castle, but let's just focus on you in these pictures. 

Is that a shower curtain beside you? Is that shelf full of hair care products? Are you seriously sitting on the toilet while taking your profile picture? Now you have us wondering, are your pants around your ankles? Ew. Just ew.

PHOTOGRAPHER TIP: If you can't eliminate what you are trying to crop from the picture,  just use a different picture.

You like to dress up for a night on the town? If every single picture of you in a suit or tux has your former significant other cropped out of it, at least try to cut the picture tight enough that we're not distracted by your previous special little lady. Editing skills are critical when resurrecting old photos.

PHOTOGRAPHER TIP: Wear clothing that flatters. At the very least, wear clothes.

Since there is usually a limit as to how many pictures you can post, may I suggest you show yourself after a recent hair cut, and a shower, perhaps? Clean hair and a trimmed beard just say so much about a man. I love thinking that you have indoor plumbing, and basic personal hygiene skills. One more thing. Seriously, put some clothes on.

You could take photography to the next level, you know, and have someone else take the picture. I'm not saying it's a requirement to have a professional, such as myself, take your portrait, but seriously, call a buddy with a decent camera on his cell phone, and take some pictures using some of these suggestions.


One last thing. We all have preferences for what we find attractive. Instead of being blunt, and possibly offending potential matches, you may want to try playing the subtle card. One gent threw all caution to the wind with this photo he included in his collection of pictures:

Next, we’ll talk about the TOP TEN SCREEN NAMES that got my attention (again, not necessarily in a good way). And then, we’ll let the men speak for themselves, in my last installment. 


  1. Denise, this is hilarious, honest and applicable to many other areas as well, and then, it's hilarious all over again.

    It's funny because as people, we tend not to realize the qualities others would appreciate most. It's especially tragic when you look at some off these pictures with empathy and wonder what they were trying to show us, that they have a sense of humor, are easy going, are low maintenance, etc.

    I'm trying to stay in empathy and then I look again, and aside from these very valid photo tips, I just have to laugh at human folly.

    Wel done my friend.

    1. Tonia, it's always a pleasure to read your blogments. I suppose I thought I had responded to yours earlier because we have discussed this topic so much. Thank you for your thoughtful response!

  2. Yes, looks like a lot of what I saw when looking, only some of the men didn't even try to crop out their recent ladies. I look forward to what you have in store for next time.

    1. Linda, as always, it's a pleasure to have you here!

  3. Oh my - I've seen all of these and more! I am so glad I'm not the only woman who looks at these profile pics and thinks 'What on Earth were you thinking, Dude?!" Can't wait for part 3!

    1. Carryl, thank you for checking in here. Thank you!

  4. Oh, this brings back memories! Your helpful suggestions are very accurate. The sad part of all of this is that, from my past experience, many of the people posting those pictures (men and women alike) were not actually single. In my past single life, as I checked out who I might know in my area, I began to realize that either by picture (even the glory days type) by online name or by the profile they had posted ( not necessarily written themself) I did indeed know some of these people AND I knew they weren't single. Not to be confused with those who considered themselves single because the weren't happy in their relationship. There was another group of people, I learned along the way, who were actually happily married, but were "trolling" the single sites to see what might be available should they ever become unhappy in their relationship. It became confusing to me as to who was who and why they were really there. Blocking profiles helped. I still wondered why people would accept/sign an agreement stating they were single, that they would also abide by certain rules and pay a monthly fee to be on a site they never should have been . Perhaps it was the thrill of "getting away with doing something they shouldn't be doing"....but, were they really getting away with it?
    I did make friends with and meet in person some very fine men and women. (Some turned out to be single and some did not.) Some actually were very much who they currently portrayed themselves to be in word and picture. Many were of the variety you describe in today's post. I look forward to the next installments. Thanks for showing yet another way you are getting your brave on...and for the comedy relief! <3

    1. One thing I learned is that there are other venues available for folks like you mentioned: Married and Looking and others, that align with what some are desiring. It is confusing, at best, sometimes, in this online dating scene.

  5. Too funny, and Hey, why are you sharing that pic of my boyfriend? Just kidding. The first time I tried online dating, I'd just left a long term relationship and didn't learn the real problem until after I'd moved - he'd been cheating for months. So I found a site called True, and signed up using his credit card.

    1. Question: Did you sign him up? Or you? ;-)


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