3 online-dating photos that put people off you

Reading Time: 6 minutes

And 3 that almost guarantee a wedding.

You’ve seen how brutally picky you get when you’re browsing through online-dating photos. “Only 5’10”? NO. BMI of 23? I don’t think so.” Other people are equally as fussy.

Certain photos seem to turn everyone off. One man’s trash is… another man’s trash, at least on the internet.

Research has shown that the following types of pictures do the least to spark responses to online profiles, and might even send people running from your profile completely.

Turn-off Photo 1: The group photo

Photo by Omar Lopez 

Which one are you? Are you the one on the right, or maybe that one in the middle who looks a bit like your other pho… OH FORGET IT, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. Next.

👍🏻 Replace with: A sultry solo photo

Get ready for your close up. Your online-dating profile’s main picture should be a clear, flattering, picture of your lovely face. Remember most people browse online dates on their smart phones, so choose a photo that’ll be clear and tempting on a smaller screen.

Research has shown different types of photos work best, depending on whether you’re a woman or a man.

👍🏻 For women: a flirty, colourful selfie, looking into the camera

Selfies work really well on women’s profiles. They work badly on men’s profiles, because women tend to look at a man using a selfie and make up all kinds of reasons why; like he never leaves the house, has a wife oblivious in the next room, or has no friends to take a picture.

📷 Make a pouty, flirty face, into the lens.

📷 Make sure your photo is colourful. Wear a bright top or stand against a bright background.

👍🏻 For men: a black and white shot, looking away from the camera

Photo by frank mckenna

Men’s B&W pictures work incredibly well online. As long as they’re not in a bathroom stall, or of you propped “casually” against a super-car.

📷 Men’s photos score best when they’re looking away from the lens. Women love it. I think we create a story about what you’re gazing at – is it your mansion? A puppy you rescued? A woman who doesn’t love you as much as we could?

📷 Don’t even think about taking your top off. Or anything else.

Turn-off Photo 2: The boozy photo

Photos of people holding glasses of alcohol score shockingly badly online. We don’t know why. And it’s a bit hypocritical, seeing as we’re still inviting each other out for drinks on first dates… But anyway. Don’t hold a drink in your profile photo. (And if you can’t find a photo of you without a drink in your hand, maybe look into that.)

👍🏻 Replace with: a full-length photo

Replace your body-shots photo with a shot of your body. You need to include a full-length photo (clothed) on your profile. Why? Because people want to know, exactly, who is going to be turning up on a first date with them. They want to see your body type, and overall “look”.

This does not mean you have to be in perfect shape.

You can find a partner online even if you don’t have the perfect BMI. I’ve managed to nail down TWO husbands online and, as you’ll see if you find clips of me on telly, I’m no stranger to the dessert trolley.

It means: you have to be honest.

In her book, Have Him At Hello, Rachel Greenwald interviewed over 1,000 men who’d taken women out for a first date but never asked for a second date. There were many reasons why the guys didn’t want to see the women again but the main reason was: unmet expectations.

The men had arrived at the first expecting to spend time with one kind of person, but had discovered their date was a different kind of person.

If you use old, overly flattering or misleading photos on your profile, you might get first dates but you won’t get second dates.

📷 Get a friend to take a full-length photo of you.

📷 It doesn’t have to be standing up – one of my coaching clients gets amazing responses online from a photo of her sitting on the pavement, laughing. (Admittedly, she has 30-mile-long legs which are on full, sickening display.)

Turn-off Photo 3: The holiday snap

The panoramic holiday pictures are the worst. I mean, we’re meant to fall in love with that pixel over there on the right? But any kind of holiday photo can be a downer. You’re often wearing sunglasses (very bad online), or a hat (very bad online and offline, IME) or you’re with other people (See: Group Shot).

Only include a holiday photo if it’s somewhere genuinely amazing that few people get to visit, or if travelling is really important to you. Otherwise, you’d do better with a full-length shot of you in Catford than a teeny-tiny shot in Katmandu.

👍🏻 Replace with: an ice-breaker photo

As well as your smouldering headshot and your full-length photo, you need a picture of you that sparks conversations.

The best way to do this is to use a photo of you engaged in an interesting activity. Research by OKCupid discovered that these types of photos boosted conversation by about 40%.

Something like one of these:

If you sing in a rock choir, leap out of planes, play a grand piano, own a pet alligator, went on TV, met a celebrity… Use a photo of that. Something that makes it really easy for people to write to you, to discover more about it.

I play poker, so when I online-dated the second time around, this was my ice-breaker shot:

I’m proudly holding up a really bad hand, so I had several men write to me and comment, “Did you win with that rubbish?” And I did.



  • Group photos
  • Boozy photos
  • Holidays snaps

👍🏻 Turn-ons:

  • Sultry headshots
  • Full-length photos
  • Ice-breaker photos

If you’d like any help (or just a hand-hold) during your online-dating journey, get in touch. I can help you every step of the way, from a profile makeover, helping you choose your photos, through to dating coaching. Send me an email and we can discuss your options!

Kate Taylor

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