Everyone’s an expert on their own pictures, or so they think.
After all, you know your own face and body, and when you’re looking great, right?
Not so fast… the evidence says otherwise.
Wait, I don’t really look like that… do I?
Most of us have heard our own voices recorded and then played back, and that first time, experienced a rather strange sensation… “that sounds nothing like me!” But it actually does.
Just not to you, since you’re used to hearing your voice filtered through your own ear canals, your own skull, that big resonator just above your neck. If you play your recorded voice back for a friend, they’ll likely confirm that for you… “Yup, sounds exactly like you.” Gulp.
In photographs, your “inner critic” is that filter above your neck, and that little bugger has been with you, and learned all your “flaws” for your entire lifetime. Chances are your “inner critic” is entirely wrong most of the time as well. The list of things that pesky monster picks on are yours, not someone else’s. Your internal baggage, your insecurity trash can all dumped out in a big smoking, stinky, heap.
We’ve all got one. That ear you think sticks out, the eye that’s bigger than the other, or lower, that weird freckle right under your… STOP! That’s just your head-noise. Nobody else sees or cares about that stuff. Lies, lies, lies, sweet little not-so-sweet lies. During your photo session, part of your job is to send that inner critic packing for a few hours. As your photographer, it’s part of my job to help you do just that.
In my work as a career consultant and headshot photographer with hundreds of professional actors, to isolate their casting and brand accurately, we focus on “how you’re most likely to be perceived by a stranger you just met.” Imposing or comforting? Authoritative or collaborative? Upscale or blue collar? Romantic or realist? Construction worker or concert pianist? Some people call this “type casting,” I call it “getting hired.”
An actor must know how others perceive them on first impression, or they don’t often book the job they’re after, because they’re going after the wrong ones. Most inexperienced actors really have no idea how others truly perceive them, unless they’ve done the hard work of figuring this mystery out, and have become working professionals. It’s an essential skill for you to possess as well, if you’re searching for a great date that can turn into more.
Ego vs Reality
You can fight it all you want, all your ego wants, but in the overcrowded, commodity-framed world of online dating, people form snap judgements about you within seconds of viewing your profile, or more accurately, your dating profile pictures. If your shots aren’t working for you, in most cases, your profile you worked so hard on goes unread.
People are often wildly off-base and inaccurate in their intuitions, though sometimes a stranger’s perceptions can be eerily spot on. Your online dating profile portrait is your chance to guide and influence how you are perceived, how you choose to have others see you.
You can use this to your advantage, as in “honestly,” or to your disadvantage, as in “dishonestly.” I strongly suggest the former, obviously, since no one likes to be lied to, especially before they’ve even met you!
To “selfie, or not to selfie”
“Damn, I look smokin’ all oiled up on the beach,” pumped at the gym, or in that perfect pair of just right ragged worn-in jeans. Er… not so much for a prime-time online dating profile picture. You may indeed look great, but here’s the reality: You’re looking at your phone! There’s ZERO authentic connection with the person looking at your picture, no emotional message, except, well, “damn, I look hot!” Which may be great to humble your Facebook and Twitter crowd with the dazzling wonderfulness of you, but in the online dating world, with the possible exception of hook-ups, this sends all the wrong vibes.
If you’ve got a picture that you really feel truly represents you in your best light, and it’s a phone shot from your real-life adventures, then just maybe, it could be one of your profile images. But the rest of your shots should be taken with a skilled professional online dating profile portrait photographer.
Bring in the Professional, but choose wisely
There are roughly 10,000 plus professional portrait and headshot photographers in Los Angeles, all eager to take your pictures, and your hard-earned cash. Your mission is to find one who not only has technical and artistic skills, but is genuinely interested in who you are, in telling empowering you to tell your story.
They should also be someone you feel a connection with.
It’s a big ask I’ve found, because that photographer needs to have mastered a very particular set of skills beyond making lovely, competent images. They need to be able to put you at ease, get you comfortable in an inherently uncomfortable situation, and then truthfully bring out the very best aspects of who you are, inside and out. In a picture. In a couple of hours. After you’ve driven there in brutal traffic. With a headache, and mom calling on your cell right beforehand. Yeah… a big ask. But you should settle for nothing less. It’s your love-life on the line, after all.
What’s the Secret Sauce of a great online dating profile picture?
There is some magic involved here, all light, good, yummy magic, but alchemy, most surely. In my sessions with online dating clients, we start with an in-person consultation. I read your profile, ask about what kind of person you’re hoping to attract, what makes a great relationship to you. Many of my fellow photographers think I’m crazy to offer that, up front, before potential clients have even decided to hire me. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Why? Because just like a date, this is all about chemistry.
If we don’t vibe, and create rapport, trust, ease, and excitement together in our first meeting, then I don’t agree to shoot you, and you shouldn’t hire me, because those things don’t simply appear on shoot-day. I don’t want your money so badly that I’d ever agree to shoot you if I didn’t think I could be of superb service to your journey.
If it’s not clicking between us, if there’s no fire, then with much affection and best wishes, onward, be free!
Find who you’re meant to shoot with. Take the gold from my consultation with you, and make magic with someone who really truly gets you, and is into creating with you.
Just like a date, you know pretty fast if there’s that “spark” in our meeting.
The Magic of Technique
When I shoot a client, days after we’ve chosen wardrobe, locations, worked through relaxed, connected poses on shoot day, all that good stuff, we play pretend… you know, just like you did when you were little. “Imagine that your dream date is sitting across from you right now… forget about me and my camera, let’s play some killer tunes, and imagine… where are the two of you right now? Beach-side cabin, out on the sand… okay, great. What time of day or night is it? Night time… got it. Now, she or he is sitting right next to you by this crackling fire, your toes touching tentatively under the warm sand. What do they look like? Take a moment and really feel them next to you. What does their laugh sound like? Yes, really, their laugh, the one that makes you smile no matter what… that’s right. Click.
Do you think that picture grabs a viewer’s attention more powerfully than a selfie, or if you were worrying about that funny thing you nose does when you smile, and if your hair is okay?
You betcha. It works like gang busters. They forget about all the other profiles, and you get an e-mail right then and there. I am certain this works, because my clients have told me it does.
Reach out to me on my website and let’s meet up for your consult, and I’ll show you how this alchemy thing truly works. This process can change people’s lives. I know, it’s changed many of my client’s lives… it’s changed mine too, and my elusive, perfect “she” is working in the office next to me right now. Seriously, zip me an e-mail or drop me a line. There’s nothing to lose, it’s free… and what you might gain, well, that’s up to you quite entirely. I certainly wish what I’ve found, your version of course, for you. I hope to play a small part in transforming your dream relationship, into your reality.