profile picture advice

Profile Picture Advice

Choosing a Profile Picture


There is plenty of advice out there on the best type of profile picture to have such as don’t post a selfie, wear red, (women) or blue (men). Then there’s don’t wear sunglasses, look into the camera (women) away from the camera (men). Include a pet, don’t include a pet. Do you know what I think? It really doesn’t matter that much. What matters is that you have one. A profile is nine times more likely to be viewed if it has a profile picture and 58% of online daters said they won’t even open a profile without a profile picture.  Most dating software, including ours, will list profiles with profile pictures before those that don’t have a profile picture, so we know it’s better to have one.

What makes a good profile picture?

The one bit of profile picture advice I would give is, to be honest. Find a recent picture of yourself that shows your personality. People are hoping to see an open, honest and genuine person looking back at them that they can connect with. If that means a picture of you at the helm with the wind in your hair wearing a yellow onesie with sunglasses on then so be it. A rushed selfie in the bathroom just wearing a towel doesn’t give your profile visitor much to go on except for your taste in bathroom tiles!  Ideally, a profile picture will be just a clear image of your head and shoulders.  Please do not include children.

Taking your photo

If you don’t have any photos of yourself (these people exist, I for one avoid having my picture taken) then you will need to take one. The easiest way to do this is with your smartphone. There is a lot of advice out there against using a phone but with some guidance, you can come away with a very decent image. Some phone cameras are better than many point-and-shoot cameras these days. Here are a few tips to help you produce a great image with you looking your best:

  • Lighting – Phone lighting is very poor, the flash just isn’t good enough to reach any distance. Natural light is always better for portraits so try to use natural light where possible, by a window or outside.
  • Background – Choose an interesting background but something that is not too busy and will distract from your face. Some phones will have a portrait mode which will make the background appear out of focus (this is called depth of field), a common effect when taking a portrait so the background does not dominate.
  • Selfie Mode – most phones will have a selfie mode. This is when the phone will use the camera on the front of the phone not the more sophisticated one on the back. This front camera usually produces a poorer quality image so try using the lens on the back of the phone. Ask a friend or family member to take the photos for you. You could invest in a small camera tripod, these can be very cheaply priced online. Alternatively, stack up some books and prop your phone up so you can use the better lens on the back. With an iPhone, the phone earphones will double as a shutter release cable so if you are on your own you can still take the shot whilst sitting in front of the camera. This may be the case with other makes of phone.  Most will also have a timer feature.
  • Focus – make sure you have focused your image correctly. A good portrait will focus on the eyes, these should be your point of focus.
  • Composition – there are many rules when it comes to photo composition, enough to write a book. For a simple portrait avoid placing the head in the middle of the frame and looking straight at the lens like a passport photo. For a more pleasing shot move the head slightly over to one side of the frame and turn the head a bit to look into the space you have created in the frame.
  • Be natural and happy – Smile!  If you can take multiple shots, preferably smiling and/or laughing, you can then pick the one that you feel is the most natural and shows your true self.

If you would like tips on writing your profile see our article Writing a Profile.

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