How do I take good quality pictures of myself?
June 15, 2012 12:31 PM   Subscribe

How do I take good photos for an online dating site, as a guy who doesn't photograph well?

I have very few pictures of myself for some reason, and the ones I do, don't even look at me. In fact, if I get checked for my ID, I always get the comment that I look nothing like the photo.

Any ideas how I can get my decidedly non-photographer friends to take good pictures of me? Any other suggestions?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Some tips here.
posted by griphus at 12:33 PM on June 15, 2012

I had a lot of fun reading this recent MeFi post about Portrait Photographer Peter Hurley's tips on taking portraits. There's a bunch of good tips and tricks in there.
posted by carsonb at 12:37 PM on June 15, 2012

Any other suggestions?

Lots of guys on dating sites put up photos where you can't see what they look like so being photogenic or not isn't the only issue here. If you have the basics you will already be ahead of a lot of other people:

-Make sure there is enough lighting when you take the picture that people can actually see you.
-Make sure the photo is sharp and crisp, not blurry or hazy.
-Make sure the photo wasn't taken from so far away that nobody can tell what your face looks like.
-It's fine to have photos of you doing interesting things but your main one should be a close up and clear shot of your face.
-Make sure your face isn't covered by sunglasses, ski goggles, or whatever. I remember the last time I did online dating, looking at this guy's photos - he had like 10 of them - and he was wearing huge sunglasses in every last one. It was impossible to tell what he looked like.
-Put up a variety of photos so that people can see you from different angles.

To be perfectly honest here's what I did when online dating and I suspect it's what a lot of other women do too (assuming you are hetero):

-Skim down the page looking for guys who are cute. If I got to a guy who was cute then I would read his blurb. It wasn't, read blurb first then look at photo. I didn't even read the ones of the guys I didn't think were attractive. If I couldn't tell what the guy looked like in that thumbnail photo, on the page with all the other thumbnail photos (like if it was from a distance or he was wearing shades or whatever) then it was 50/50 whether I would read the blurb or just keep skimming. So I think your main photo really has to be one that is a close-up, clear shot of your face so that people can tell right away what you look like.
posted by cairdeas at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Photos seem to generally turn out better/more flattering if the photographer likes you and sees you as attractive. So pick a friend who thinks you are attractive.
posted by Michele in California at 12:56 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sunglasses. I don't know why all guys look good in sunglasses. It's a casual equivalent of a suit.
posted by whoaali at 1:11 PM on June 15, 2012

a nice camera that can take a shot with depth of field (such as a decent dslr) always helps.


photos of you doing stuff taken by people candidly tend to work really well if they're not staged.

wear decent clothing. not a suit, necessarily, but avoid sweatshirts or poorly fitting clothing.

don't use your webcam.

they say the "myspace angle" works, but fuck that noise.

some people will think that if your photos don't show either your face or body that you're hiding something. when I say body i don't mean you have to be shirtless. I just mean that you should have something from a medium range so that most of you can be seen.
posted by shmegegge at 1:27 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why can't you hire a photographer? You don't need the world's best one, just one with a real camera and basic photographer skills. It does not cost that much and I was able to barter for mine.
posted by melissam at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2012

Best self-porrait I ever took was a full-frame face shot where I was standing about two feet in front of a window on a bright cloudy day with the camera braced up against the window. I was leaning slightly forward and my eyes were looking up slightly, straight into the camera, and I was thinking about something really funny so that I had a good, real, slightly wicked smile on. The window gave me a lot of really good natural light and gave my face a nice glow. I took several pictures until I was happy with the angle and my expression and everything. (A flash will pretty much ruin a picture unless you have a big professional rig, and indoor lighting is never really bright enough.) I'm not ashamed to say that I kept that photo long after I was done with online dating. I also had several photos of myself doing interesting things, but that headshot was my primary picture and I would still use it online if it looked anything like me. Not that my current picture looks anything like me, but I'm not trying to sell my face or anything.
posted by Scientist at 5:43 PM on June 15, 2012

If it looked anything like me anymore I mean. For online dating it's important that your picture describe you accurately (in your best light, but accurately) so that people's first impression upon seeing you in the flesh isn't "man, that dude's profile pic sure was a big ol' lie". But then, you knew that.
posted by Scientist at 5:52 PM on June 15, 2012

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is your intended audience. What kind of person are you trying to attract? Are you looking for someone who'd likely be interested in a serious relationship if things go well, or a series of short-term dating experiences? How do you want to come across in the picture - thoughtful, serious, fun, mysterious, smart, etc?

Whatever your answer is to those questions, try not to look like you're trying too hard. Just be yourself, especially if you're looking for someone who might really be a good match for you. Wear clothes that you're comfortable in and that you'd be likely to be seen in in real life. Hopefully your friends will be able to help you pick out the pictures that are both flattering and accurate.
posted by wondermouse at 7:20 PM on June 15, 2012

From griphus' link:

Volunteer MeFite Portrait Photographers
posted by mlis at 7:31 PM on June 15, 2012

I'm not a professional photographer, but I take good snapshots and have a good camera. If you're in Portland, OR, send me a memail.
posted by Specklet at 7:38 PM on June 15, 2012

If it is really important to you, have a professional do it. You are essentially trying to sell yourself. Don't half-ass it.
posted by Silvertree at 8:22 PM on June 15, 2012

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