Dating Profile Photos: Everything You Need To Know

Dating Profile Photos: Everything You Need To Know

Cue the glitter cannons…. we’re Hey Saturday, the world’s leading dating photos agency, and back in 2013, we created the genre of dating photography.

Dating profile photos needs to do three main things:

-Make you look good
-Make you stand out from the crowd online
-Show your personality

Estimates show that by 2020, the global dating market could grow to £9.5 billion, with 310 million people expected to be actively using an online dating platform – that’s a heck of a lot of couples meeting online. But back in 2013, when brands like Tinder were only in their infancy, there was no one specialising in photography for online dating – in fact it hadn’t even been dreamt of yet.

Hey Saturday founder Saskia Nelson spotted the abject lack of good quality photos on dating apps and decided to create a niche photography business specialising in cool profile photos for online daters. Saskia started Hey Saturday and the genre of dating photography was born.

“My marketing experience combined with my 8 years of online dating enabled me to picture a world where people could showcase themselves online using high quality, strong, colourful images that showed them at their first-date best. I realised that if people wanted to have an impact online and stand out from all the 1,000s of people online dating, this would be the quickest, smartest and most authentic way to do that.”

The Need for Dating Profile Photos

The need for dating profile photos

Before Hey Saturday came along, the vast majority of photos used on dating apps were not specifically taken for the purpose of dating. People were using holiday snaps, wedding photos, work photos, drunken party snaps and smartphone selfies on dating apps. Online daters were using very bad and very old – to the point of deceptive – photos on their dating profiles.

Saskia Nelson has been credited by Time magazine and world renowned photographer Martin Parr with creating the genre of dating photography and she is recognised as the leading industry expert in the UK, Europe & US on all things dating photography related.

Since 2013 her dating photography agency Hey Saturday has worked with over 3,500 single people helping them to create a stand out set of portrait photos for their dating profiles enabling them to get out there and reclaim their dating life.

The Dating Profile Photos Generation

The dating profile photos generation

Fast forward a few years and online daters now expect more from their potential partners and know that mirror selfies or dating photos with exes cropped out just aren’t good enough. Millennials – the visual generation – want to see a true likeness of who they are going on a date with. And this means good quality photos taken specifically for dating. In a recent survey*, women told us everything they dislike about men’s profile photos. It revealed that 77% of women are put off by the profile photos that men put up on dating apps and websites. Poor quality dating photos which are blurred, out of focus, poorly lit or too far away are a big turn off for 70% of women. 74% of women are put off by drunken party snaps and 78% of women find mirror, gym and bathroom selfies really unattractive. Head here to read more on our dating profile photo survey results and what they mean for your dating profile.

When people use good images of themselves online they start seeing loads more interest in their dating profiles. And official research now backs this up. To stand a better chance of meeting a partner online, daters need dating photography which is authentic and showcases their personal brand.

Relaxed, natural profile photos

Dating photography is all about creating relaxed, happy photos that show you at your natural best. For this reason, they are not formal or taken in a studio setting. It is off-putting to potential partners to feel that you’ve tried too hard, so dating photos mustn’t give the suggestion that you need professional help. Instead, dating photographs should have the ethos of you hanging out with a friend who happens to be passionate about photography. To create this natural, relaxed vibe, dating photography takes place outside, where the lighting is flattering and natural and doesn’t look staged or false.

Examples of good dating profile photos

personality online dating

Los Angeles Dating Profile Pictures

best online dating profile photos

best dating profile photographers

Best Dating Profile Photos

If you want some more examples, check out our portfolio here, head to our Hey Saturday Instagram feed here or read our article on what makes a great dating photo.

Your Dating Profile Photographer

Your dating profile photographer

A dating photographer is not just your average portrait photographer, but someone who understands online dating and can instantly make a connection with every client, helping them to relax and show their true selves. Dating photography is not about creating formal poses like a regular portrait photographer – it’s about creating accidental laughter and natural action shots. Hey Saturday are the experts on what makes a good dating photographer – we have put together a dream team of X dating photographers in the UK and the US, all of whom have been trained in the art of dating photography by Saskia Nelson. We shared a post about this, so make sure you check out ‘What makes a good dating photographer?

Your dating photo shoot

A dating photo shoot is not like a usual portrait photography session, which often takes place in a studio or in one fixed location. To get the most natural, relaxed and unposed photos, a dating photo shoot is more like a chilled out adventure. Ahead of the dating shoot, the dating photographer will have put some time into finding out about their client’s personality. They can then create a shoot that will work to bring out the best in that person. The dating photographer and their client will take a wander around a neighbourhood that suits, stopping at plenty of eye catching, colourful backdrops along the way. The aim is that it’s not formal or rigid in any way, but more like hanging out with a mate and taking some cool photos.

There are some things you can do to prepare for your dating shoot to make sure you get the most from it. It’s worth taking some time to plan so that you get the dating photos you want and are totally happy with the outcome. Check out our posts How can I make my dating shoot go well?and ‘What should I wear for my dating photo shoot?’

Your dating profile photos

In online dating, you have seconds to make an impact. It’s been proven that better photos get more likes and right swipes. If you’ve only got 30 seconds to spare and want the ultra top line dating photo do’s and don’ts, they are:

  • Include at least one well lit headshot of you smiling.
  • Avoid group photos
  • Avoid photos with another person cropped out
  • Make sure your eyes are clearly visible (not covered with sunglasses or ski goggles)
  • Show your personality

This is the tip of the iceberg on this subject and there is now a wealth of knowledge, experience, facts, figures and helpful do’s and don’ts about what makes a good dating profile picture. If you want to know more, sign up for our free eBook in the box below.

Check out our definitive guide to which pictures you should choose for your online dating profile. Looking good in your dating photos is not just about which pics you choose or the outfits you wear, as we reveal in our posts How can I look good in my dating profile picture? and 10 ways to create a dating profile that makes people say ‘oh heck yes

Dating Profile Photos Everything You Need to Know

Self love in dating

Mindset is a crucial part of successful dating. Everyone is aware of the adage that no one else can love us until we love ourselves. In our digital, visual world, a huge amount of worth is placed on image and everyone is busy comparing their life with everyone else’s through apps like Instagram. So that old adage remains truer and more relevant than ever.

Rates of anxiety and depression have increased 70% in the past 25 years and social media is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep***. Dating is a part of our digital life and so when using dating apps we need to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing above all else, as this recent BBC news video shows. That’s where self love comes in. In order to protect our wellbeing and make sure dating always remains fun, we need to develop an attitude of gratitude, where we constantly remind ourselves of all the things we love about ourselves and our lives. We need to be ok with being different and embrace our flaws and quirks.

Mastering the art of self love affects dating in positive, tangible ways. For example, if you love yourself it makes you appear more attractive to others. If you see yourself as attractive, it comes across in everything from your dating photos to your social interactions and your dates can pick up on it. Likewise, if you don’t believe you’re attractive, your dates will pick up on that too.

Successful dating photos that are full of self love:

  • are authentic
  • show your quirks
  • are natural and unstaged
  • are not over-edited

We talk more about self love in dating photography in our posts ‘9 habits of happy online daters’, ‘6 kick-ass ways to be your own dating cheerleader’ and ‘10 ways to spot genuine people when you’re online dating’.

Dating Profile Photos Everything You Need to Know

Personality in online dating

The key to creating relaxed, happy dating photos is to show as much as you can of your personality. If you can be yourself in your dating photo shoot and let your personality shine, your photos will be the better for it. But there’s more to it than that. It’ll help you attract people to your dating profile in fundamental ways.

To want to date you, people need to feel that your lifestyle matches theirs; they need to feel that you’ll have lots in common, otherwise they’ll move on to the next dating profile. This means people need to be able to envisage dating you. You can help this process by giving as many clues as you can about your personality and the kind of person you are.

To do this you need to tell a story with your dating profile photos. It’ll make for compelling images and a dating profile that stands out. You can do this using the following techniques:

  • Colour
  • Props
  • Clothes
  • Setting

Check out our post ‘Why showcasing personality in your online dating profile matters’ to read more on this topic.

Dating Profile Photos Hey Saturday

Personal branding in dating photography

You can take personality a step further by developing a personal brand for your dating. This means creating a strong image and thinking about what your ‘USP’ is, so it’s clear what your vibe is straight away from your dating profile pictures. In a good personal brand, people will get a strong sense of what sort of person you are. Think of your dating photos in the same way as a brand logo. Make sure you’re telling a consistent visual story.

A good way to establish your personal brand is to brainstorm some ideas about what story you want to tell. For example, if you’re a nature lover who is always out in the great outdoors, think about how you can tell that story visually to create a strong brand. You’ll want to think about everything from natural colours of green, gold and brown, to the clothes you’re wearing and props you’re holding.

We go into much more detail in our posts ‘How to perfect your personal brand in online dating’ and and ‘Our pro tips for expressing your personal brand in your dating profile photos’.

If you want to know more, sign up for our free eBook in the box below.


*Markets Insider, October 2018

**A study carried out by Hey Saturday and dating expert Jo Hemmings among 100 25 to 55 plus year old women.

*** Study by Royal Society for Public Health, 2017.

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