Picture Perfect – Profile Photo Tips from a Professional

One of the most challenging aspects of online dating is the dreaded photo.

If you add a photo, everyone is judging you based on what they see, and they may never read your profile to find out what a wonderful, dynamic and fun person you are.

If you don’t post a pic, then the assumption is you are overweight, deformed or just plain unattractive. The statistics prove this. When Boston.com’s Personals staff reviewed their site they found that a profile with one image receives 5 times as many replies, posting 3 photos netted 7 times as many, and 5 photos brings the numbers up to 9 times the replies as profiles with no photo.

My recent entry on profile photos covered major things to avoid. But that brings the question how do I get a good photo?

So I turned to my friends at Reverence Photography and interviewed Joanna to see if we could get some professional tips; here’s what she had to say:

Q.) What do you think is the most common mistake people make when taking portrait shots?

A.) Stop taking photos in the privacy of your bathroom. The most common mistake people make is not letting someone else take their photo. The main thing this prevents is a blurry distorted photo; for example taking the angled “myspace” photo with your hand holding camera as far as you could making your nose appear bigger than it actually is due to the lens documenting the focus length. This happens because of the automatic focus found on most of the point and shoot cameras.

Also, people usually take portrait shots inside in low lit areas. This can cause unnecessary shadows that are unbecoming. The best light for portraiture is ambient; that is sunlight/daylight evenly dispersed making skin look more even.

Q.) What should the subject try to do to put their best features forward?

A.) Lighting is everything; use a softbox light, being a light covered with a material that would disperse the light evenly. Even though this is a professional term anyone can make a softbox light by choosing a light and covering it with white satin cloth or even wax paper (make sure not to leave the cover on for long because it might burn).

People should also always know their best angles. Angling a face slightly to one side is always more aesthetically pleasing than a full on face photo.

Another thing that can help is letting your hair down, it can bring out a more feminine line that is more pleasing to the eye. Also, ladies, a warning; do not wear too much makeup, it does not make you look better it ends up making your skin look unnatural in tone and also adds years onto your face.

Q.) Now, we all know that the camera can be used at odd angles to really change the appearance – how do we avoid the “MySpace Angle” look while still being flattering?

A.) Some specific ways of hiding problem areas are:

  • Taking the photo from a higher angle, this hides double chins, shoulders that are too broad for a petite frame, large noses, and thick necks
  • Leaning slightly forward while taking a photo at eye level can also hide double chins.
  • Taking the photo from a lower angle can elongate legs if you are significantly short (This is something Hollywood has been doing for years)
  • If you feel you have a boyish figure you need to add more interest to the photo by bending elbows and knees. Sit down and bring one of your feet higher on a step to add a different angle bring out your elbow on that knee.

Q.) For a group of photos suitable for online dating – what would be a reasonable price to pay a professional? (Including both headshots and full body)

A.) Professional photography is expensive by nature. If you are looking for a photographer it is better to find someone that has a set package price for the amount of images you will need. For smaller shoots more photographers charge per hour which can cost you $500 bucks or more, so writing out a strict contract stating amount of time allotted, a couple printed pictures and a full resolution CD.

It is also not a bad idea to include charges for extending the shoot time. This will help give you an idea of what you would like to spend and prevent surprise charges. Shoots including CDs and an hour shooting time should not cost you more than $300. Just be prepared with outfits and a very quick changing period.

Q.) Any standard colors that look best on everyone? Any fabrics to avoid?

A.) A color that looks good on everyone, as you might have guessed, is black. Everyone has a favorite outfit that makes them feel like a million bucks. It’s very important to feel natural during a shoot so wearing something you feel good in is imperative. Also your hair and skin color very much dictate what color you look good in. A red haired vixen would look good wearing something with a green or blue undertone, while a dark haired beauty would generally look good in something with deep warm tones, like red and gold.

Things to avoid for a general photo shoot would be fabrics with intricate patterns. This could cause in the digital photography world something called “digital burn”, which is caused by the pattern being distorted by the sensor of the camera making the pattern look smudged.

Q.) Any advice on how to look appealing and even sexy with out looking slutty?

A.) Slutty is a very subjective term, so I will try and bring a more visual idea of what to strive toward verses what to stay away from. It is better to look like an artistic nude than a something out of a pornography magazine. Choose clothing that fits you not something small you can squeeze yourself into. If your boobs are holding up your neck you should decide on a shirt that is more fitted to your hefty needs. Think of cute 1950’s pinup models, and tight knee length skirts. The librarian look can always turn heads.

Thank you Joanna for the wonderful tips! If you are in the Metro Phoenix area and would like to have a photo shoot with Reverence Photography, mention this article for a special price!

Written by Mandi
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