It seems like you can't sign up for an online service without a prompt asking you to upload a profile photo.
Personally, I think that most people don't understand the importance behind having a few good pictures. As someone who has been told repeatedly that I don't photograph well, I get your anxiety over posting pictures of your mug for all to see. Sometimes people make it easier on themselves and post the same picture on a social media platforms. A nice side effect of doing this is that that you can quickly become personally branded.
I'm someone who gets paid lots of money to give people advice on writing online dating profiles. I also coordinate a self improvement meetup called "Flirting, Dating, and Sex, Oh My!". This is a closed group for many reasons. Probably the most important reason for making my meetup closed is because I get to approve each and every person before they become a member. It doesn't happen often, but I do occasionally get cock shots and naked or near naked full body shots where the person is headless. I happen to have a huge tolerance for opening a profile or email and being greeted by a unannounced cock shot, but I'm guessing that most of the people in my group do not.
But I digress.
Think of your profile photo as the single most important feature when you are dating online. People mill over profile photos in much the same way those people who are house hunting look at house photos. If a person doesn't like the exterior of a house (no matter how fabulous the interior is), they will likely move on. Quickly. It is essential that your profile pictures be pleasant to look at. You really don't want people looking at you and thinking "what the heck is going on with this person?", or "how nice! You post a picture of your dog on an online dating site, that is super helpful!".
Bad profile photos are all around you. A bad profile picture usually includes one or more of the following:
- A shot that was taken so far away that you can barely discern what it is you are looking at
- A picture of you standing smugly next to your fabulous and expensive car
- A picture where you think you look cool and tough, but end up looking douchey
- A picture of your dog or cat instead of you
- No picture at all (seriously, I can't make up this stuff!)
- A picture of you in your Comic Con outfit
- A picture that focuses on one specific asset. For women it is usually their breasts, and for men it is usually their chest or arms
- A picture where you are wearing sunglasses
- Any picture where you are in a group. The focus should be on you, and not your hotter friend(s)
- A picture of you and your underage child
- A picture of you where you look like it could be a mug shot
- A picture that only shows your eyes or profile
I also wrote a blog post about bad dating pictures that you can read here.
Enjoy my gallery of bad online profile pictures
So what makes a great profile picture?
You need not get a professional head shot for online dating. However, many people have them for their business, so it is common to see them thrown up onto dating sites. What is good about head shots is that they are clear, only include you, and *fingers crossed* you look pleasant, happy, and inviting.
Enjoy my gallery of good online dating profile pictures
The bottom line is that profile photos can make or break you when it comes to online dating. Dating ain't pretty. The amount of scrutiny we put on ourselves and others is kind of ridiculous. However, thems the rules.
Having a great dating profile picture is just the tip of the iceberg. We haven't even gotten into how to craft an amazing online profile!