Girl in a denim skirt takes a photo with a camera
Published by  
Wes Myers
April 12, 2023

How To Take Good Dating App Photos (As A Man)

Great photos can make or break a match. Here's some advice for getting to "great" for your Keeper profile.
Wes Myers is the co-Founder and CBO of Keeper, an experienced matchmaker, and relationship expert. He is an Iraq veteran and Wharton MBA.

Women take a lot of photos. Men usually don’t.

When signing up for Keeper, the number one challenge for most men is deciding which photos will make the best first impression, and a lot of guys simply don’t have many to choose from.

The need for good photos goes deeper than physical attraction, because photos communicate a lot more than just what you look like. When a woman sees your photos, she’s going to make a broad range of assumptions about you: What’s he like to be around? Is he fun? Is he confident? Does he have friends? Is he interesting? And, most importantly: Can I see myself with this man?

A rich and detailed Keeper profile demonstrates the full range of your personality, interests, and strengths. But the first place her eyes are going to go is to your photos, and unless they provide convincing answers to the above questions, they could be holding you back.

In this post, we’ll talk about what makes a great set of shots for your Keeper profile, and how to get better photos if what you have now falls short of the mark.

General Tips

Smile naturally

Some guys provide ten photos, but they’re not smiling in any of them. Nobody wants to date someone who’s serious all the time, and that’s how you’ll be perceived if you don’t smile in any of your photos.

But all smiles are not the same. The human brain can immediately detect a forced smile vs. a genuine smile, so you want your smile to appear natural. Real smiles cause the eyes and cheeks to move. Your eyes narrow, you develop “crow’s feet,” and the corners of your lips turn upwards. Also look at your bottom teeth. If a smile is genuine, it’s less likely you’ll see the bottom teeth.

Look straight into the camera

Imagine meeting a woman on the street or in a bar. How does it always start? Eye contact. Looking into the camera lens simulates eye contact when a woman views your profile, forming an instant connection.

You don’t need to look into the camera in every photo, and shots where you’re looking away can convey a sense of intrigue, aspiration, and depth. If you’re looking away in more than half of your photos, though, you risk appearing shady or avoidant.

Selfies are not ideal

When you don’t have any photos, it’s tempting to snap some selfies and be done with it. When building a profile, however, we never want to use more than one selfie, and none is better.

Selfies limit the range of poses you can use, and we don’t trust selfies by default because they make it too easy to “hit your angles.” If you saw a woman’s profile and it was nothing but selfies, wouldn’t you assume she’s hiding something?

Photos taken by other people are preferable to selfies because they communicate what you actually look like from a real-life perspective and demonstrate that you’re a social guy who has friends to take photos of you. One selfie is acceptable for a closeup, but it must look natural and not forced.

Mirror pics are the worst

Mirror pics are selfies with an added layer of awkwardness. They’re usually taken in bathrooms, which is not an association you want. Data shows that mirror pics perform poorly, so we prefer to not use them at all.

Get active

We love activity photos, because they show what it’s like to be around you in day-to-day life. What do you like to do? If you work out, gym shots are great. If you like to cook, have someone take a picture of you at the cutting board. It can be anything from rock climbing to watering your garden. We want to see you enjoying the activities you enjoy.

Sometimes activity photos can feel fake or contrived when we take them, but as long as they’re good it doesn’t matter. Women want to see that you have interests and an active life. If they find you interesting, they’re not going to ask, “why did someone photograph this?”

Travel pictures fit into this category as well. If you’ve been around the world, let’s see you in some of the places you’ve visited.

Use props

Props are great for showcasing your interests and demonstrating what it’s like to be around you. It can be as simple as a coffee mug in a café or a laptop at your dining room table. Sports equipment, musical instruments, and books are easy examples, but don’t be afraid to get creative. If you bake bread, show us your bread. If you play poker, put some chips on the table.

We like to see pets

Dog photos are cliché because they work. A photo with a dog - even if it isn’t your dog - says “this is a guy who’s caring and responsible.” If you’re more of a cat person, cats are great too.

Smolder subtly using your eyes

There’s this face men like to make in photos known as “the smolder.” You’ve seen it before. The eyes are squinting, the lips are pursed, and the cheeks are sucked in. Please don’t do this. It looks unnatural, corny, and try-hard.

There is a more subtle version of the smolder that works well in men’s photos, however, that doesn’t require you to contort your face to ridiculous dimensions. It’s all in the eyes. Go to a mirror and practice squinting slightly using just your bottom eyelids. Keep your brow natural - just raise the bottom lids ever so slightly. You’ll see what this looks like in the images below.

Women find this attractive, and if you do it right, it won’t look like you’re trying to make a face at all.

Show us your friends and family

We can’t build a profile with group shots only, but it’s nice to have two or three. Seeing you in a group tells women that you’re sociable and agreeable. It communicates that you have friends and can hold your own in a social environment. Seeing you with your family is great as well, because it shows you have a good relationship with those closest to you.

The only exception is that we don’t want to see you with anyone who could be your ex. Even if that’s your closest female friend or sister, women that could be seen as an ex (even if they’re partially cropped out) are a bad idea.

Resolution matters

Women will make subconscious judgements about you based on the quality of your photos, whether it’s fair or not. Grainy, pixelated, or excessively filtered photos project sloppy presentation regardless of their content. We prefer high-resolution shots wherever possible. Camera photos are ideal, but photos taken by a relatively new smartphone are perfectly fine as well.

Let us see your face and body clearly

Keeper’s responsibility is to portray you in the best light possible while also giving an accurate representation of what you look like. We like to have at least a couple close-ups of your face/upper body, and a couple where we can see your whole body.

A shirtless pic is okay, but only if it’s casual and in a setting where it makes sense to be shirtless, like at the beach or on a boat.

Archetypical Photos

You don’t need to incorporate all of the above tips into every photo, and it’s actually better you don’t. It’s extremely important to demonstrate range, so you should mix and match the above advice for a varied set of photos.

For inspiration, we’ll now examine some archetypical photos and explain what makes each of them great.

The headshot

Man smiles while smirking into the camera

In this photo, we can see his face clearly with no other distractions. There is no question about what he actually looks like. Here you can see the lower eyelid squint and smirk that I mentioned above under tip #8.

The activity shot

Man riding a longboard

Obviously this photo is staged, but it isn't a huge deal. We can see something he enjoys doing and what he looks like in real life. You can also see that he's fit and get an idea of what his style is like.

The gym pic

Man rides a stationary bike

You might ask "why did someone take a picture of this?" But, if a woman finds you attractive, she's not going to say no on that basis. This is proof that he's fit and works out. Check out his quads.

The prop shot

Man showing off his guitar

He looks good. He's smiling. He's showing off something he loves. You can picture yourself hanging out at the house as he strums some chords.

The candid

Smiling man sits at the cafe

This one is great because, although it was taken by a photographer, it looks like it could have been taken by a friend on a casual afternoon. He looks extremely natural, and a woman seeing this can imagine herself in the cameraman's position sitting across the table.

The social pic

Two friends drinking a beer together

Hanging with the fellas. What could be better? It's good to have some social proof to demonstrate that you're good with people and fun to be around.

The dog shot

Happy guy with his dog

Look how happy the dog is to be held by this man. How could anyone not like him? The same concept works with babies, too.

Getting great photos is the number one thing you can do to create a powerful first impression with your profile, and it's what guys have the most trouble with.

It is by no means necessary to hire a photographer, but a lot of men on Keeper do, and the results speak for themselves. A good photographer will tell you how to pose, where to look, and what expression to wear. All of the photos in this email were shot by our friends at The Match Artist. If you sign up using this link, they'll give you a free consultation and $100 off your shoot.

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