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    Five Ways to Improve your Dating Profile Photos for Valentine's Day
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    I've spent a fair amount of time on dating sites in the past and I'm surprised and a bit disgusted at times after seeing how people chose to represent themselves. The photographs a person uses on a dating site can greatly impact their success rate. The photos you choose will express many things like what is important to you, your self esteem level, your style, your personality and how seriously you take putting your best foot forward while dating. Since I have a background in marketing, photography and storytelling, I thought I'd share my opinion on five things that can really help boost your dating profile with quality responses.  

    1. Posing:

    Ladies: Photos of your cleavage hanging out or featuring you lying half naked on the bed might garner you a lot of attention,  but it probably won't get you a lot of respect or long term relationship potentials. It says the most important thing about you is your body. You may think you are appealing to men's visual sides with your smutty pictures, but men really do want more in a relationship. Try wearing something that accentuates your body type while showcasing one of your favorite activities or pastimes. Men will notice your body. You don't have to shove it in their face.

     Men: Photos downing beers with buddies or hitting the bong say you're a party boy and probably not that dependable for the kind of relationship a grown woman needs.  You also might think you're being creative by trying to appeal to girls' interests by posing with babies, puppies or your guitar, but eight out of ten guys are thinking the same thing. Try posing in action photos where you are interacting with a baby or dog rather than having them in your lap, which can look like they were crammed in as if to say "See how cute and trustworthy I am?"  When it comes to long term, everyone's looking for the same thing: something of value. Believe it or not, women value more than puppies, musicians and babies. Your sex appeal or your desire to have a good time may be fun sides of your personality, but they probably aren't the best in you. Why use them to sell yourself?  

    2. Grooming:

    Do it! Guys should get a hair cut and trim up that facial hair or shave. Ladies should have their hair styled and wear light make up. You don't have to dress formally, but you don't want to look like you just came out of the gutter. Try a relaxed casual look or even give a slight variety of styles to show you can be relaxed and comfortable but know how to clean up and dress more formally when necessary. You might even ask your fashion savvy friends for help. Most people want a partner they can be proud to take anywhere.

    3. Setting:

    The setting in your photos is an important element of selling yourself. Don't post pictures of yourself with sports cars that aren't yours. It misrepresents you and sets you up for failure when hopefuls find out the truth. On the other hand, if you are wealthy, tone it down for your photos. You don't want to attract gold diggers. No matter where you are on the income scale strive for balanced confidence, approachability and a relaxed nature. Neutral settings or environments that you frequent might be nice, but keep in mind what they say about you. If you don't spend every night in a bar, then don't post photos of you living it up at a bar. Also, carefully consider who is in the photos with you. Posting photos of yourself with good looking folks of the opposite sex do not make you more attractive. It can be intimidating to potential partners who fear you will always be surrounding yourself with competition for them. If it's your sister, coworkers or friends of yours, say so in the photo description to put them at ease. There aren't any magical locations to use for a sure win; I'm just saying you should consider what you will attract or deter with the type of setting you associate yourself with.  

    4. Lighting and Effects:

    Don't alter your photos in Photoshop or turn your camera to blurry mode to soften your lines too much. Don't post outdated photos from fifty pounds ago. You don't want to show up to a date and completely shock the person you are meeting because you look nothing like your photos. There are plenty of catfish in the sea. Do you want to temporarily impress someone online or do you want to have a shot at finding a compatible mate? With that being said, lighting can make all the difference in the world. You want clean even light. Lighting from above, below or one side can make every line, every bag, every imperfection stand out and even create problems you don't have. Shadows can be your worst enemy. Angles can also completely transform the way you appear to others. 

    5. Trust a professional:

    You might feel a bit shy opening up about what you want to accomplish with your photos, but having a professional help you achieve the representation you want is the best way to find success. (Photographers have heard it all, too. So, don't worry about them judging what you want.) Professional photographers know how the slightest change of angles can completely change the way you appear. They know those bags under your eyes aren't really that bad; they're the shadows cast from poor lighting. They can give you feedback about the impact of posing with other people's children or your favorite ugly Christmas Sweater. They can help you express your sense of humor, adventure or sexuality in a more subtle way that will leave people wondering why they are so enchanted with you. Many people are tense, nervous and shy about dating or putting themselves "up for market." You can get stuck in your own head when you capture photos yourself or just have someone snap quick shots of you, and your insecurities will show through. Find a photographer that you are comfortable with and can have fun with. A photographer who can help you loosen up will boost your confidence level and capture a more attractive you. If you can't hire a photographer, at least ask your friends for honest opinions about what your photos are saying about you.


    Photo by Jessica Lynn for musician K Rob.  Model Melissa Wilson

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    About Jessica Lynn

    Jessica Lynn has been writing for since fall of 2010 and has also been published in LEO, Velocity, Voice-Tribune and others after serving as Editor in Chief of The JCC student newspaper, The Quadrangle. She has also served as columnist or contributing writer to an array of online publications.

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