By Shantelle Canzanese, Dating Coach

I know what you’re thinking, “It’s just a profile picture on some dating site, it’s no big deal”, or “I have no good photos of me”, or “I look like an idiot when I smile in photos”. I hear ya, but I’m also here to tell you that those are just excuses and a whole lot of laziness.

Your first profile picture is the first impression you make on any potential partner. If that first picture is unflattering, sadly we most likely won’t make it to your second photo, which means that we’re certainly not reading your bio. The decision to stay on someone’s profile is made within seconds and unfortunately you just missed an opportunity to meet someone special due to the quality of your photos. I know this sounds superficial, but we live in a digital world and our new reality is swiping through photos like we’re online grocery shopping for the opposite sex. With so many options, these details have become more important than ever. Of course your personality goes a long way, but you want to have a good photo of yourself, so your potential next date makes it to the second stage, which is reading your bio and getting to know you on a deeper level.

Here are the most common mistakes people make when choosing photos…

1: Horrible angle (Nobody wants to see up your nostrils from the drivers seat of your car!)

2: Not smiling in any of your photos (you may be miserable in life, missing a few teeth, or an axe murderer…how are we supposed to know?)

3: Five pictures of you doing the exact same thing, like partying with your buddies (we know you like to drink and go clubbing at the age of 43, but show us more)

4: Wearing sunglasses in all of your photos (we want to see through the windows of YOUR soul god dammit, not Mr. Ray Ban’s)

5: Wearing a hat in all of your photos (are you balding? We’re pretty sure you’re balding and are super uncomfortable about it)

6: Bad lighting (there’s no point in taking that selfie during a power outage)

7: Posting old photos (sorry Brad, but you’re no longer 25 and have a six pack)

8: Posing half naked in a bathroom mirror (Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes this works, but more often than not we assume you’re an arrogant, douche bag. Leave something for us to discover and remember that most women are not as visually driven)

If your profile photos fall under any of these categories then you have some work to do. And if this task seems overwhelming, don’t worry, you have options. First of all, ditch any photos that are older than a year old. Ask a family member or a friend to take some pictures of you while you’re out and about. If you already have a ton of photos on your phone, ask a buddy, co-worker, or dating coach to look at them and give you an honest opinion while short-listing your top five pics. Please don’t ask your mother to do this; she thinks you look good in every photo. Look up some head shot/lifestyle examples online, find ones that you like, and figure out what you like about them. Is it the lighting? The location? The fact that the subject looks happy? Or you can hire a professional photographer to capture your personality and tell your story through a series of images. We invest money in our haircuts, wardrobe, that designer watch and our cars, so why not our profiles? That one thing that is supposed to help us find our forever.

This is how I look at it: if I were unable to read your profile (probably because you were too lazy to do one), I should still be able to get a pretty good idea of who you are through your photos. What are your hobbies, your current passions, the friends you keep, and what’s your personality like? This is where you can have some fun and get creative. If you’re an amateur chef, I want to see you in action in the kitchen, or your favourite thing to cook for a date. If you love to joke around, you’d better have a good smiling shot with a cheeky headline underneath. If you play a sport, let me see you in that adorable uniform. We may just have that sport in common, or at least the adorable factor. You get the drift. Yes, there has to be an initial attraction, but we end up being attracted to so much more than just your looks.

So, if you’re serious about finding that someone special through online dating, take the time to up your profile game. It might cost you a little more time and energy, but you will also start to attract a different caliber of women. And just remember, nobody ever looked bad in a smile 🙂

“You get out of an experience, exactly what you put into it”