What Women Think of Your Dating Profile Photos

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So on Monday I told you how to look better in photos, especially for use in your online dating profiles. But hey… sometimes it’s good to test my advice against the real world. After all, it’s all well and good for me to sit here and make proclamations from on high, but hey! I could just be some keyboard jockey pulling ideas out of thin air.

So what better way to test things than by abusing the trust of with the help of some of my obliging readers?

After I put out the call on Twitter and and the Dr. NerdLove Facebook page, several of my readers kindly sent in photos of themselves from various dating sites for commentary and criticism. Now, I’d have no problem giving my thoughts about the matter, but where would that get us? So instead, I’ve rounded up a few of my good friends to share their thoughts on the photos.

How well does my advice stack up? Am I completely off my rocker about not looking at the camera? Should you include photos of you with an attractive woman? Let’s find out, shall we?

How It Works

All of the pictures chosen were submitted by readers of this blog. With the exception of some resizing, they have been untouched by me. Occasionally a reader submitted more than one photo; in those cases, I picked two or three in order to showcase the different opinions between poses. I zipped ’em up and sent them along to the judges without commentary.

Gentlemen: Meet Your Judges

I reached out to several women of my acquaintance in order to gain a spectrum of ages and occupations; after all, if you want to meet women in their late 20s to early 30s, it hardly helps to get the opinion of an 18 year old, no? So without further ado, I give you your judges:

Amanda – 24, Production Assistant

Jennifer – 32, Web Tech

Catherine – 35, Librarian

Emily – 28, Interactive Development Manager

Caroline – 31, Teacher

Kelly – 26, Massage Therapist

So enough rambling from me. Take it away, ladies.


#1: The Man In The Mirror

Amanda: The bathroom cellphone pictures always remind me of girls on Facebook. It’s a little lazy and so over done that it’s a joke on the internet. If this were the first photo or the only photo I saw on a dating profile I don’t think I would stay on that page for long.

Jennifer:  I can not stand bathroom mirror pictures for dating profiles. Bathroom lights are not designed to make you look good.  They are designed to show you every flaw before you walk out into the world. His shirt may be brand new and freshly cleaned, but it looks worn out and dirty.  If the classic bathroom mirror pose is honestly the only picture you can get of yourself, at least be classy enough to remove the tampon bags from the background.

Caroline: Here we have a slanted photo taken by a guy who is clearly unable to pry himself away from his electronics enough to take the ear bud out of his ear. He has (his sister’s?) maxi pads in the back of the photo (unless those are diapers) and some sort of cleaning product. Sexy pictures are not taken in bathrooms– dumps are taken in bathrooms. And his mirror is dirty, which makes him look like he soiled his shirt. His facial expression does not get me excited either; he looks really, really bored. The shirt tells me nothing about his style, and I can’t get much of a sense of his body shape. Again, I would pass on this.

#2: Me and Johnny McGee

Catherine: I’d prefer if the photo weren’t rotated 45 degrees. He doesn’t seem happy. He’s not smiling. He looks like he’s waiting for the bus and forgot to bring something to keep him occupied… He looks like an attractive guy, but he also looks bored. I might respond to a message he sent, but I probably wouldn’t message him.

Kelly: To be fair, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this photo, but the first thing that came to mind the second I saw it was “pretentious high school senior photography” I can hear someone behind the camera saying “ok now look longingly off into the distance, as if you’re gazing into your future…or waiting for a cab”.

Jennifer:  I like this photo, but only if it was just one of the photos #2 had to offer.

Emily:Like Jennifer, I hope this isn’t the only picture #2 is offering. Having come from a long dating history of artsy, angsty nerds this photo sets off a few red flags for me. A shot that is probably supposed to come off as soulful and deep to me reads “brooding and bitter.” When I was 18 I thought “brooding” meant “mysterious, deep, and misunderstood”. At 28 I tend to think it means “unaddressed depression”.  As one shot of several it could be okay, if the others showed that he was a happy and fun person. This strikes me as the sort of shot someone includes because every other picture they have shows them in shorts and an old video game t-shirt. Its good to show you clean up nice but do yourself and favor and grab your nice shirt and a friend with a good camera and get some smiling shots.

#3 – A vs. B: The Metro

 Emily: I would say this is a pretty good pic. It’d be better if he was smiling, but he’s in a kitchen, he looks friendly, the lighting is warm, over all it gives a good vibe. The only thing that would give me pause is the fact that the seriousish look + buttoned-up shirt + gleaming kitchen appliances in the background make me think he’s way too type A for me. I know my “throw my purse wherever it lands when I walk in the door habit” would drive him nuts. If he’s not a type A personality, the pic could be improved with a smile and a glass of wine in his hand or something that makes him look just a tad mussed up. If he is a type A then this picture is perfect for the type of girls he wants to attract.

Amanda: This picture shows what an attractive guy he is, but nothing else. It’s a little boring.But I gotta say he has a pretty sweet kitchen.

Catherine: This isn’t my favorite of the two. It makes him look a little bit short, and the lighting on his face isn’t that great. It does show, however, that he’s comfortable in social situations, though the lady standing next to him seems as though she might think she has “dibs.”

Jennifer: She reads as someone who might not be as friendly to a new lady friend as he would like to imply.

Caroline: This picture is too far away.  He looks clean cut and pulled together, but this picture does not show off his body so much, and he looks short next to the girl.

#4: The Great Outdoors

Kelly: I’ve been on OKCupid for probably 8 years now, and there seems to be this unspoken contest between all the men on who has the manliest outdoorsy photo. There are so many of them that eventually I feel like I’m being yelled at. “THIS IS WHAT IM GOING TO MAKE YOU DO ON OUR FIRST DATE WHEN YOU SHOW UP WEARING HEELS!” It may not be what you intend, but just be aware that it is not terribly original. If you want to do an outdoorsy pic, I’d suggest either a really cool one that everyone says “oh wow” to, or one that means a lot to you that has a good story. Good stories make for good ice breakers.

Caroline: This is a nice photo in that it shows something about the guy’s interests. I wish he was looking straight at the camera so I could get more of a sense of his body. He looks really, really calm. I am guessing this guy is pretty quiet. It’s not off-putting but it’s not grabbing me either. I think that’s probably because he’s not my type.

Amanda: This picture is one that would catch my interest right away. It shows off an interest in the outdoors, his good looks and a charming smile. You can’t go wrong with this.

#5: The Crop

Jennifer: Props for choosing a photo that shows off his style.  Negs for choosing a photo where he had to cut out the girl he had his arm around.  I’m the type of person who immediately assumes that any girl who gets cut out of a photo is an ex.  Show me that it’s a shot of your and your friend, or pick a different picture.  Even so, I’d probably drop Steve a line, just to see if purple shirts are a regular thing for him. I’m a sucker for a purple shirt.

Emily: Seriously, don’t awkwardly crop out other girls. We will always assume they are exes and you have Issues with them still. Either stick to solo shots or group shots with context.

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