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Do I need professional photos for dating apps?

Love Letters

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Q. I am a baby boomer, average looking. I am told I need a professional photographer for those dating apps (JDate, Plenty of Fish, etc).

Is that true? Is it something that will help the process?

I dread the cost of the photos, plus the cost of the apps. Any ideas for those of us on a less than fab income? How polished should one look on these profiles?


A. I’m wondering who gave you this advice. Was it someone who saw your current photos? Or was it a general tip?


My take is that professional photography is not required for a good dating profile. I do think you need quality photos that flatter your physical and emotional self. Those are often best captured by someone who actually knows you.

I’d rather see a person laughing at a cool restaurant than posed like a robot. To me, the best shots show how you embrace the world around you. That means a pic of you in a garden, taken by a savvy friend, might get you more dates than a portrait session.

Do you know anyone who’s good with a phone? Any friend whose Instagram you enjoy? That’s the person to ask. Even if it’s someone much younger in your family. Let these pics show that you have hobbies (assuming you do), that you like to relax (assuming that’s true), and that you look like you take care of yourself, even if you aren’t being followed around by a stylist. Start there, and if no friend or family member can pull this off, yes, you can see about even getting a local photography student to step in and help. But try to keep it casual.


Dating isn’t cheap. The looking part should be as low-cost as possible.



NO. Don’t do professional pictures. That comes off looking too staged. You’re not applying for a modeling gig. Take some nice selfies outside and have a friend take candid pictures. You want to look natural, not fake. Some more don’ts: 1) Don’t pose holding fish while standing in a boat. 2) Don’t pose with drugged tigers. 3) Don’t pose at the gym. 4) Don’t pose standing by your car. 5) Don’t pose in your bathroom. 6) Don’t flex your muscles. 7) Keep your shirt on. 8) If you have kids, don’t post pictures of them. 9) Same for other family members.


You want to represent yourself accurately and if professional photographs do not represent you then don’t use them. These days, you can take a nice picture with a phone and be off and running.


Why would you do this? So your potential dates can be underwhelmed by seeing you in person?


I’d use a professional shot for maybe LinkedIn, but not for dating apps. Stick to a casual photo showing you doing something you enjoy, that says something about you and your interests. Also, use a reasonably recent photo (within 1-2 years). If you’re a guy, no need to pose with a gorgeous woman either.


Go out with friends and have them snap a couple pics at the restaurant. Outside (not fishing). While doing a hobby (if you run, a race pic for example). You don’t need professional pics, just pics showing everyone who you are.



^I got cat-fished pre 2016. If/next time it happens, I’m just going to walk out. Red flag: Your date calls THE DAY OF the date and asks what you’re wearing. Then, of course, shares what he/she is wearing. I would NOT have recognized her if she didn’t mention the color coat she’d have on.


Spend the day with a friend. Have that friend take candid photos of you all day. In the evening, choose the best one for the dating app.


Dating apps are inherently about physical attraction via photo versus getting to know someone at school, work, or church. If you feel like you are forced into some kind of online beauty contest — then perhaps the app scene is not for you.


Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.