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Picking a Winner: Select Your Best Dating Photos Using Data

Choosing the right dating profile photos using data!


A Man's Dating Profile Photo

Photo by Donn Gabriel Baleva on Unsplash

It's true, this type of blog post has been done over and over again, not just here on this blog but elsewhere, too! And you know what? If we can get a steady stream of Marvel and Zombie movies you can sit through another of these pick yer best dating photo pieces. Okay?

Many times when folks upload a photo they do so with photos where the person is like yeah, I'm that hot bitch right there and they upload it, without any sort of test data to work from.

Enter Photofeeler

What is Photofeeler? It's a service where you can test your photos by letting people rate them. You choose where the photo is going to be used, business, social, or dating. And then you let people rate your photos based on Intelligence, Trust, and Attractiveness. It's like (and I'm dating myself here) Hot or Not but if data scientists were running the show.

Why subject yourself to being rated by a bunch of strangers? Because data. That's why! Pure and simple, the data provided by the ratings on your photo will give you, ideally, a true score of what strangers think of your photos. Why does that matter? Well, strangers are going to be looking at your photos, so it stands to reason that you would want the opinion of folks who don't know you, who will tell it like it is.

What kinds of photos do well?

People like people who smile, who aren't too far away from the camera and don't look artificial. It makes sense to me.

Don't worry folks, I've gone through the trouble to put my mug there to be judged so you don't have to! You're welcome!!

What works?
Smiling, a good hearty smile, if you're showing your teefs then that'll get you some good scores. You want the camera to be somewhat close, not too close, and not too far away.

  • Your photos should be eye-level. Stop doing those weird low angle photos, guys. And gals? Stop it with the high angle stuff already. Eye level is where it's at, kidlets!
  • A strong smile. It doesn't matter if you have braces, or crooked teeth, the bigger the smile the better. Short of that, I smirk can go a long way as long as you appear aloof and not bland.
  • Having a clean appearance. You look like you wash your clothes and take showers regularly, your hair isn't a mess and in your face
  • Guys, wear shirts. Gals, you can get away with a little less. Less clothing makes you appear to be less trustworthy.
  • Mustaches – my current facial hair config is the mustache! I ran up a couple of mustachioed photos and… mustaches are apparently a controversial choice. You're definitely doing dating on level extra difficult when you go out into the world with a mustache! Men of culture who are out there taking life on with a mustache, I salute you!

When you smile, people equate that to trustworthiness or at least that's what Photofeeler tells us. Glasses add to the perception of intelligence apparently, too.

What they say…

It can be confusing. Again, you're getting feedback from a firehose of strangers. I wouldn't take anything said here to heart, however. Some of the feedback could be useful But I've found most of it to be kinda meh and contradictory.

Maybe I'll go pose differently to look like less of an asshole. Brb!

What could help this photo? A different pose, one that's less artificial or posed-looking. Smiling more. Less mustache, more beard possibly?

I'm waiting for the comment that says “I would prefer a different person in this photo!” Thanks, Becky!

And here's an experiment a person at Photofeeler ran on themselves. Note the higher score photos that the subject is close to the camera, takes up most of the frame, and has an interesting/energized look, and is doing something. The worst photos are the guy without his shirt and then wearing big ass sunnies. Lesson to be learned? Keep close to the camera and don't hide your face.

Photo Courtesy of PhotoFeeler.com

Photo Technique matters

Worth mentioning is the overall photo quality, not just the perceived quality of your mug but the quality of the actual photo overall. Having a well-composed photo makes a huge difference in whether or not someone takes a chance on you! According to OkCupid's data, they say that having a photo with a strong depth-of-field (blurry backgrounds, crisp foreground/subject) can positively impact your match rates. So be a little more discerning with your photos, people.

Image courtesy of OkCupid

Improving your chances of getting a match by improving your photo choices

What would a stranger take from any of your photos? The great unknown, we can't read people's minds after all, nor can we understand how they perceive things and people they don't know. I think asking the question what am I putting out there with this photo? is a great question to start with when choosing photos to put your dating profile.

With the evidence provided here, it doesn't take much to get your photo selections right and start raking in those matches!

Look into the camera

People tend to respond more often when you're looking directly at the camera, with that gorgeous mug. Don't obstruct your face with too much shadow, hair, or anything. People want to see your face; they want to see you smile.

Keep the focus on YOU

Your images shouldn't distract from the main subject: YOU! Images that have a blurred out background, or a very minimal background tend to place the focus of the viewer squarely on you. That's a good thing. Now, if you have an interesting or dramatic scene in the background, by all means, show it—that's compelling! Waterfalls, neat architecture, a concert are all great ideas for things to keep in focus!

Keep it natural

Sure, it's fine to use photos where you're clearly posing for the shot. They're fine. The data tells us, however, that people tend to like impromptu photos, casual, non-posed, photos. It's a good idea to be mindful of who your photo-minded friends are, the ones snapping photos and ask them to take a few snaps of you.

The group shot

Keep it to ONE photo of you and a group. A group photo is one way to establish trust with your potential dates. Many who vote on photos tend to rate a group photo higher in trustworthiness than other types of photos, like selfies. The appearance of friends, having fun with others, have a positive impact on the viewer. Too many group photos, though? Fug'geddaboutit! Two or more group shots seemingly annoy the viewer. I guess you can have too many friends!


With these tips here, combined with my suggestions above you should be able to assemble an excellent set of dating photos that will get you a few more matches than you would have gotten otherwise!

Go out and conquer, find your match, fall in love and have fun out there! And if you have any other photo tips, let us know in the comments.

Author profile

Alex is the founder and managing editor at the Urban Dater. Alex also runs: DigiSavvy, for which he is the co-founder and Principal. Alex has a lot on his mind. Will he ever get it right? If he does, he'll be sure to write.

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