Do’s and Don’ts of Creating Your Online Dating Photos

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In my last two dating columns, I shared how to create a brand for yourself to explain who you are and what is important to you. Particularly helpful in dating, having a brand (a succinct way to describe ourselves) makes it easy to start a conversation with potential suitors.

But it’s not just the words we choose, it’s also the visual images we select that tell our story. And when meeting new dating partners online, the photos that accompany our online profile are pretty darn important.

How important are my dating profile photos?

We all know that in-person first impressions are formed in less than sixty seconds. But when you don’t have the advantage of meeting in person, a prospective date’s impression from glancing at your photos online is even briefer. In a mere five seconds, a potential date will see your dating profile photo and make a judgment:

  • Yes or no…all based on how appealing that first photo is.
  • If the first one holds their attention, they will look at the rest.
  • And only then will they read what you have written about yourself.

It’s that fast!

So your opening photo is your calling card.

Do’s for selecting your best dating profile photos

What is a prospective date looking for? It’s impossible to know what is appealing to everyone because each of us have such different tastes. And the man who is looking at your photo may not even know what he finds attractive. “I’ll know it when I see it,” I have heard men say, which isn’t very helpful for us to sort out what matters!

But let me give you three tips, based on my own experiences and the comments of the fifteen men I describe in the chapters of “Mom…You Just Need to Get Laid: The Adventures of Dating After Divorce”.

  1. Make certain the majority of photos you post are current – the number one complaint that men have about the photos women post is that they are out of date. Nothing disappoints a prospective suitor more than to feel deceived that the person he is meeting looks nothing like the photo on the profile. (If you are posting four or five photos, t’s okay to post one or two that weren’t taken yesterday, but give a proper time frame to explain their significance.)
  2. Select photos that speak to what you find interesting – none of us are one dimensional. Our photos should reflect who we are and what we like to do. I understand that Covid has limited us in the last two years. But it’s not too difficult to take photos of yourself in a way that conveys more about you. Put your personality into your images!
  3. Choose photos that are graphically pleasing – if you aren’t sure if the composition is appealing, ask a friend for an opinion. All photos should be clear, (not blurry), and visually compelling. Your image should be in the center of the frame. And smile! Your friendliness in photos is the number one reason men say they find appealing.

Don’ts for online dating profile photos

The same rules that apply to men’s photos apply to women. Here are my top three tips for what not to post:

  1. Avoid anything cliché – for men, that’s photos with fish, in gyms, or in a mirror with an unmade bed in the background! For women, it’s photos of cooking (unless you are a master chef), in workout clothes — but not really working out, or at happy hour with other women.

2) Skip photos that are too personal – your safety and privacy are of utmost importance, so be wary of posting images with children, workplace identification, or any other aspect of your life that you do not wish to reveal.

3) Eliminate photos that are not easily understandable – if it isn’t simple to derive meaning from the photo, choose a different image. You want the viewer to be curious, not confused!

Why it all matters

We make decisions based on visual images. Think of book covers, packaging, store signage, entertainment marquees, headlines, and on and on. We make selections (and quick ones too!) about how to spend time and money based on the visual appeal of the person, product, or service we encounter. So it is that in online dating, your photos speak volumes about you.

Write to me at with any questions or thoughts. Here’s to your fabulous self in photos!




  • Kate Somerset

    Kate Somerset is an author pen name for the book “Mom…You Just Need to Get Laid: The Adventures of Dating After Divorce”. Following a divorce after 24 years of marriage, and thirty years of being deeply rooted in professional and volunteer roles in Texas, Kate took a chance on a new life in New York City. She immediately fell in love with Manhattan and the many opportunities it offers. Kate’s book about 15 true dating experiences in New York City is an honest, humorous, and inspirational look on how to give yourself and romance a second chance. One of the most universal struggles faced by all of us – building effective social connections – is the focus of Kate’s monthly column for The Three Tomatoes. Published by Brooklyn Writer’s Press, the book and Ebook are available on Amazon. An audiobook produced by The Three Tomatoes is on Amazon and Audible. Learn more about Kate at

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