Online Dating Tip: How Select Your Profile Picture

We all know that when women are “window shopping” on online dating sites, the pictures are super important. Call it superficial or call it bitchy if you want but I call it reality. The picture is the first thing we all look at when we are checking out a profile. So you gotta make sure you are selecting the proper pictures.

I am about to give you a great online dating tip for selecting a profile picture. This online dating tip came to me from one of my newsletter members, who I will refer to as X.

X, told me about a recent study, done by Okcupid, which discovered that women are more attracted to men who look away from the camera in their profiles pics. I had never really given much thought to the position of a mans face in a picture, but after thinking about it, the study made complete sense. I have cut and paste my email correspondence with X below that includes links to the study, X’s results from his own private study, and my female commentary.

Email from X

Hi Marni,

I wanted to tell you about an online dating experience I had which was incredibly fascinating…

For a number of years I’ve been doing the online dating thing. I’ve had profiles on Match, Okcupid, Jdate, etc. In every one of these profiles, I posted photos with me looking directly at the camera. After reading about a study done by Okcupid, which talked about how women are more attracted to men who look away from the camera (something about being more mysterious), I thought I’d give it a try.

Within two days of posting my looking-away photo on Okcupid (attached), I received 22 new visits to my profile. For many women, this is probably typical. For your average guy, not so much! I was amazed at how a simple little profile tweak could make such an enormous difference. I continue to receive many more profile visits than I received previously.

There’s some very useful info here…they’ve studied thousands of profiles:

I hope you find this useful.



online dating tips

X attached a picture of himself looking away from camera which I have included here. My initial response when I saw this picture was, that guy is super cute, I would date him.

Here was my response to X.

My Response:

X, this is fascinating. Thank you so much for sending this to me. Before I make my comments, I would love to see your old pictures so I can compare. Can you send me your old pic? To be honest, in this pic you look super cute and attractive. I can see why you got hits on your profile.

Can I post this on my site? It would be very helpful to other guys to see.



X’s Response:

Thanks Marni! I’m attaching 3 of my older pics (pasted below). Feel free to use on the site. Glad you found the info useful.

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My Response:

First off, I want to say that you are still very cute in these pics BUT there is something kind of sad about these 3 photos. I can totally understand why women are giving you more attention with the new picture. It’s way more eye catching and really paints a picture of a moment with you. These 3 photos look forced, cheesy and to honest, not so attractive. The other picture makes me want to know more about you.

I think the reason looking off gets more attention because it feels like you are not trying as hard. Translation =’s I do not need your approval. It’s feel more real and comfortable. Face on, is literally in your face. It screams “look at me!!! Pick me, pick me!!!”. Looking away is more subtle and not as aggressive. It makes it less obvious that you are participating in dating online.

Thank you so much for sending these pics and allowing me to use them on my site. I know this example is a great online dating tip that other men can use.


X’s Response:

Thanks so much for your feedback. I think you hit the nail on the head about not trying as hard. This would be a great service you could offer….profile photo critiques! I just can’t believe I’ve been using these other photos for so many years. These dating sites (some of them) are a money pit – and look at how much money I could have saved by using a better photo. No regrets, but I see a lot of value in photo (and profile) feedback.


My Response:

X, that is amazing idea. I know that many other men need that female eye to tell them if their pictures are working for them or against them. I will definitely make that service available to other men.

Again, thank you for letting me share this with others. Keep me posted with your online dating success 🙂



The point of the profile picture is meant to give women a snapshot into your life. Not to show you in numerous uncomfortable and forced positions. I hate when people have professional head-shots. Are you auditioning for a film or looking for a date??

To help you out, I have put together a list of 6 Rules for selecting your online dating pictures. These Rules are based on my own online dating experience as well as feedback from 20 other women.

Rules For Selecting Pictures:

  1. Don’t have too many pics of you by yourself smiling
  2. Have a friend take your picture. Pictures of guys holding the camera on an angle to take a shot just looks stupid. All women will see is a loser, with big nostrils.
  3. Include a mix of pictures. The picture section is for providing a snap shot into your life. A couple with you and friends, a couple of you doing an activity, one with a pet if you have one.
  4. Have 5-7 pictures max. You really do not need more than 5 pictures of you. 5-7 is okay, but 7+ is overkill.
  5. Choose pictures where you look good. You obviously want to show your best self, just make sure that the pics aren’t from 1984.
  6. Test different pictures and do your own study. Select a profile picture and post for 1 week. Reach out to 20 women and see what results you get. Then do it again, with a different picture for 4 more weeks. At the end you will have real results.

I guarantee that if follow these rules, you will instantly notice a difference in your online dating results.

Want a pair of experienced female eyes to critique and edit your online dating pictures?

Click Here to sign up and have your profile pictures analyzed within 48 hours.

I’ll tell you what pictures to keep, which ones to eliminate and do a scan of your profile to let you know if it’s attractive to women.

Click here to sign up now!

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  • Jason

    Hey Marni,

    I’ve got to agree with this rule (looking away). I had a pic of myself looking directly into the camera over at POF, and in the first couple months of having my profile up there, I received 30-40 views.

    About a month ago, I changed the pic to a profile shot and within two weeks had received over 100 new views. The difference was astounding. I didn’t know that it was because I was looking away from the camera (until I read this). I just knew it got a lot more hits.

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  • Marni,
    I read with great interest your comments about selecting profile pictures. I am particularly sensitive to a persons profile pictures because my professional training and career has been in advertising photography.

    First of all I am in complete agreement with all of your criteria for selecting photos. Additionally I would like to point out three factors which I feel are central to successful pictures. These three factors are: 1) Naturalness, 2) Elimination of distracting elements and 3) The importance of facial expression.

    First of all regarding appearing “natural”. You might read this as being somewhat “casual” or “unposed” or appearing “real”. Unless it’s a military portrait avoid the full length, straight-on, standing at attention pose. It makes anyone look like a robot – not good. In other words the shot should look like a “slice-of-life”. There are times when a genuine candid shot works very well. The truth is, however, that there are usually way too many elements in a photograph to have something truly genuine work well. Your best bet is to have someone who is visually aware do the shots for you. And, yes, this could mean a professional photographer, but could also mean anyone with a good eye.

    Next – avoiding distracting elements. Most importantly here is to capture only as much of the person as needed to get the message across. Doing a great “smile shot” is probably the most essential photo among what is needed. Don’t do a ¾ length or full length shot for this. Move in and capture a “head” shot or a “head & shoulders” shot. Otherwise – eliminate the unnecessary. Watch out for backgrounds also. If the background is far enough behind the person it likely will be rendered out of focus. Generally this is an advantage. Also if the background is somewhat darker than the face it allows the person to come forward and be dominant – a good thing. Looking at the seated photo of X in your online examples the hard edge of the horizon line bisects his head with all the grace of a frontal lobotomy – not good. It’s almost painful to look at. The water portion of the background works OK. It is sharply rendered but doesn’t have hard edges and is rather irregular in visual texture – all good. Also the blue color tends to recede and allow the warm skin tones to come forward – very good. The bald sky is distracting – way too bright. The straight on pose, as mentioned earlier, is a killer – way too formal and confrontational. Avoid it like the plague. Rather try this: Have the persons body turned a bit away from the camera – perhaps 25 – 35 degrees. Now bring his head more towards the camera – about half way between the body angle and straight on. Now bring his eyes directly at the camera. This avoids the confrontational straight-on body, allows us to see mostly the front of his face but also a bit of one side (adds dimension) and lastly has the person engage the viewer in a pleasant way by avoiding the pupils being centered in the eye sockets in a “staring” manner. With this arrangement eye direction could also be just to either side of the camera if the direct gaze is undesirable.

    Lastly the importance of facial expression. It is simply true that most people, with the exception of professional models, simply don’t know what their faces look like during various expressions. Think about this. Facial expression almost totally has to do with the eyes and the mouth because these are the only two facial features we can control more or less at will. Some people (myself included) have difficulty altering what is happening with their mouth from what is happening with their eyes. Every time I smile naturally (basically a change in the appearance of my mouth) my eyebrows head north and I take on a really clownish look. Solution – practice in front of a mirror or have someone who is visually aware critique your expressions. Get used to what your face feels like for various appropriate expressions. It should also be noted that not every shot should necessarily show a smile. Most importantly the expression should be appropriate to the photo.

    I hope the foregoing is useful to you Marni. Please feel free to use any of the above that you feel would be beneficial.

    • Marni

      Of course. Thank you for posting. It definitely was an expansion of my thoughts and very well put.

  • M.

    Hey Marni, just a lil’ thing here. The female pics are more attractive if they look into the camera, and focused on in… So, its complete the opposite from a male pics and psychology, and honestly, it doesnt make any sense to me, but I’ll give it a try…
    Now, is everything that akward between sexes, and is there any way to sense it before I screw it up???

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  • Emily Natukunda