Secrets for a fabulous profile pic

IN the world of online dating, just like in the real world, a good first impression snags attention, making you stand out.

The answer to whether you need a profile photo comes down to one unshakable truth: if you don’t have one, this could be construed as a red flag by potential matches. In the world of online dating, just like in the real world, a good first impression snags attention, making you stand out.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, capturing yourself in an effective profile photo isn’t about looking like a model but appearing approachable. While you don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars in a professional shoot, it’s worth investing some time and effort in the image you present to potential partners.

Of course a friendly smile is de rigueur and you should use a recent photo instead of a sepia-toned shot taken in 1978 or an eerie Polaroid with an ex’s disembodied arm around your waist. But beyond the obvious, there are four frequently overlooked steps for women to follow:

1. It’s not about them; it’s all about you

How you style yourself for your photo shouldn’t reflect what you imagine a potential match is looking for. It should enhance the most alluring aspects of your true appearance and express your personality.

Although prints on fabrics can be distorted by the camera and complicated accessories can overwhelm your look, you can send subtle signals through your choice of necklace or earrings or by choosing not to wear jewelry at all.

Unless you always wear your hair in a ponytail, consider letting it down so that it frames your face. Your makeup shouldn’t drastically alter your features, but it’s a good idea to wear a little to emphasize your favorite attributes and avoid looking washed out.

If you’re fond of your eyes, play them up. If you’d like your lips to stand out but typically lean towards subdued lip color, consider a shade of lipstick that’s slightly deeper than what you’d normally wear.

2. Dress for your body type

Your primary profile photo ideally will be shot from the waist and highlight your face. This means you’ll want to wear a top or dress that flatters the shape of your upper body. Women with fuller busts look fabulous in V-neck tops, while women with broader shoulders are flattered by deep scoop necklines.

A woman with a smaller bust and more rounded shoulder line carries off a boat-neck style beautifully.

3. Forget the flash, glow naturally

Natural lighting means no flash, which means no risk of red eye. Have your photo taken outdoors in the morning or early evening or on a cloudy day, and you’ll be bathed in a diffuse glow that’s flattering.

The natural world also makes a much more attractive backdrop than your kitchen cabinets. Ask a friend to accompany you to a park, the beach or your own backyard to stage a few shots with flowers, trees or a shoreline in the background.

4. Don’t strike a pose

It’s crucial that your photographs be taken by someone other than yourself. Although it may be tempting to take your picture in private, holding the camera at arm’s length and a dramatic angle that conjures an air of mystery, you really need a photo in which you’re gazing at another person and appear relaxed, as this will let you connect with matches at first glance.

Photos taken from slightly above your head will be the most flattering, as will shots in which your body is at about a 45-degree angle, but that doesn’t mean you need to stand stiffly in a precise location. Moving around, standing naturally and conversing with your photographer throughout the “session” will help you to feel and look at ease. Ask to have several photos taken with each side turned towards the camera so you have an array of images to choose from.

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