Jigokucho’s Guide to the Perfect Profile Picture in 22 Steps or so
It has very quickly occurred to me that very few people on Kerrang! Dating know how to take a profile picture. This shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but that hasn’t stopped me. Here are my top tips for how, or how not, to take a profile picture.
DO focus the lens. No-one can tell what you look like if you’re all blurry. C’mon, man. You knew that one.
DON’T take a photo from too far away. Not unless you have another one to back it up that is more of a close-up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just want to see forehead, but if I can see the sky above you, and the grass below your feet, it’s too far away. So I can kind of tell what build you are, but I can’t see if you have a sexy face. Which, you know, I’m going to be looking at more than your full-length profile during conversations. Hopefully.
DO look like a regular human being. To explain, I’ll move instantly on to the next point.
DON’T pull a face like you shat yourself just as you pressed the shutter. A photo of your face pulled at extreme angles, the whites of your eyes bigger than the irises, your lips folding back over your teeth in what looks like a pained grimace of disgust at the brick you just laid, your third chin protruding out of your face in what can only be a deliberate exhibition of your neck flesh. That’s not going to make me want to kiss you if we go on a date. It’s not even going to make me want to click your profile. It’s gong to make me dry-heave, or scream in horror, or maybe both, and scroll right on past. Similarly, if you have your mouth wide open in a feigned yell in a way that makes me seriously consider if I can see remnants of your lunch at the back of your throat is not going to make me want to know more. Shut your mouth, relax your face, smile, and maybe you’ll begin to resemble a normal, datable, human.
DO wear a goddamn shirt. Put your clothes back on, man. If I want to see your well-muscled abs, I’d prefer to wait until we’ve, you know, met. I’d like to know what your face looks like, whether you have a decent personality, and are even remotely nice before I stare at your chest. Now, sure you might have some sweet abs, and you might want to show that off. So tell the people on your profile that you work out, have a nice bod, and then show the gal if she shows an interest. I like abs as much as the next human female and gay man, but I don’t want them shoved in my face ..
Just get dressed like you would on a normal day, and take a photo of you looking like a happy chappy, maybe with your weights or gym bag behind you to suggest you have an athletic build. Let me get to know the person before I’m forced to see the body. Because lets face it, you can’t have a conversation with abs, no matter how defined they are.
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES put a photo of yourself and another woman as your profile picture. Jesus H. Christ, dude, that’s like rule #1! I’d like to say I’m not the jealous type, but that would probably be a lie. If I see a photo of you with a girl hanging over you, or clutching at your arm, or flicking her hair into your face, I’m instantly going to think, ‘Who the fuck is this chick?’ She will become instant competition. Unless the lady in the photo is obviously your sweet old Granny Mae, I will shoot daggers at that photo and wonder just what she means to you. It won’t matter to your prospective dates if that girl is your sister, or your best friend. We can’t know that from looking at it on first glance. If you’re going to put up a picture of yourself and a female friend, then by all means go ahead, but don’t use it as the picture to identify yourself with. I’m not on this site to date you and Blonde Chick With Soft and Bouncy Hair. Put that picture up later and explain in your profile who it might be. If you’re close to your sisters, and you explain that in your profile, I’m going to be somewhat less threatened by her than if she is in the central photo of your profile. It should be only you. Sticking a picture of you and Random Woman will just get my heckles up.
DON’T simply cut yourself out of a group photo. Being completely honest with you, photos that have been cropped from group pictures look like the kind of thing the media would use on a Missing Person’s advert. “He was last seen at a friend’s party where this photo was taken. As you can see, he was a smiley chap but had the unfortunate crippling disease that rendered him unable to take a photograph without somebody by his side. If you see him, call this number.” Don’t crop photos. They look tacky. Just pick up a camera and snap a shot of yourself without some random arm creeping around your shoulder. Speaking of which, lets move on to the next very relevant point.
DO take your photo with a camera. I mean an actual Nikon/Fujifilm/Sony camera. I have lost count, and subsequently given up trying to, of the number of profile picture I’ve come across where the person’s face is partially obscured by their camera phone, their shoulders are hunched and face dipped so they can see the camera screen, and the flash obscures half of the room. I’m looking to date you, not your phone. Pick up a camera and do it right – no matter what they say, a photograph from a camera will look better than one from a camera phone. Also, why are you taking a photograph of your reflection? In the Age of the Selfie, surely we should all be experts on turning a camera on ourselves and seeing just us, and not the equipment we used to document the moment. Or is that just me? Ah, okay. So you can’t aim the camera perfectly at yourself. Use the goddamn mirror you’re using to photograph your reflection, turn your camera around, and look at the reflection to aim the lens right. Then actually look at the camera when you take it. Look at the lens, not off at your reflection. You may think you’re gorgeous, but unless you look at the camera I can’t immediately agree or disagree. And while we’re on the subject …
DO be alone in your photograph. Whether it’s an arm, a woman, or your best bud, it complicates things if someone else is there. Your profile picture should show you. Admittedly I have seen a number of pictures with pets in their picture (and lamely these are the ones I’ve clicked most often) but the profile is quite obviously not for your cat, so it’s a little more obvious which one I’m looking to date. If you are in a group in your picture I will be looking at everyone going ‘Which one is my guy?’ And the worse for you if I think your friend is hotter. It’s so simple. Fine, put a picture of you and your friends up later, but don’t use it as the picture to identify you.
DO think about lighting. The lighting of the room can make a big difference to how clear your photo will be. Obviously, some crafty photo editing can smooth that out for you if necessary, but isn’t it better to get it right the first time? Look at the room you’re taking the photo in: is it too dark? Is there too much sunlight streaming through the window? Are the lights casting a weird artificial, yellow glow over the room? All these things can impact the outcome of your photo.
In the case of a dark room, flash can help. But beware of flash. If you’re going to use it, don’t be too close to the camera. A flash that’s activated too close to the subject can completely wash it out. Your face will be pure white and your facial features will likely appear to be floating in the white expanse created by it. I personally am not a big fan of flash – I used to be, but I found it made the photos a bit too stark. Natural sunlight softens the photo. So move on to that option.
So many people go wrong with positioning in relation to sunlight. If you take a photo with the sunlight behind you, it will most likely cause a giant blurry halo around your person that makes me think an angel is about to grab your shoulders and take you away. Try not to put the sun behind you – instead face it. Look into it. The natural light will consequently give you a more natural look. It will light up the room, and in turn you, without the use of your lamp. Make use of the light available. And if you find sunlight too harsh, block it out (curtains, night, etc.) and turn on your light.
Some bulbs can cast a weird yellow glow over the room but not all. And even so, this isn’t always a big problem. Artificial light can sometimes soften a photo and if this is the look you’re going for, then by all means do. But obviously, in all cases, don’t forget that some simple photo editing software can fix lighting problems with a fair amount of ease, so don’t preoccupy yourselves with it. Then again, don’t throw it away completely. It is still important to consider it when you take the initial photo.
DON’T scowl. It just makes you look angry. I get it, you’re trying for sexy. Unfortunately, mate, it’s coming across more like angry ferret.
DO be conscious of what you’re doing in your picture. To you it may be a regular pastime, but to someone who doesn’t know you it might look odd, or even off-putting. For example, one picture I came across showed a bloke blowing a plume of smoke out of his face and smiling about it. This made me instantly cringe – he obviously is a smoker and delights in the fact, to the point where he’s not ashamed to make it an indicator of himself on his profile. There is an option to tell someone you are a smoker on your page, and people can see it there. I don’t want to see you smirking about destroying your lungs. Equally, if you are a drinker, tell us that on your profile, not in your picture. It makes it look like that’s the most important thing to you. And so it may be, but I don’t want to date your drinking habit. Think about what it looks like to other people. Look at that picture and think ‘what does this say about me?’ If it helps get an outsider to tell you what they see. If a bad trait is the first thing you/they pick up on, change it. Your profile picture will be the first thing your prospective date will see. Make it count.
DO smile. I mentioned this briefly a few times in this post, but I feel it needs to be a point in itself. If you scowl, or pull a stupid face, all I get to see is your angry and/or constipation face. I would hope if you were on a date with me, you’d be smiling. I don’t want to know what you look like when you’re mad. I want to see you smiling, happy. It gives off bad vibes if you look angsty in your photo. A smile, even if only a small one, instantly gives off a positive feeling. So my potential date knows how to smile? Great! Nice to know they do more than look angry all the time. A smile doesn’t take the use of many muscles, and hell if it hurts you to do it, console yourself with the idea you’ll only be doing it for the duration of the photography process.
DO open your eyes.
DO look at the bloody camera. I mentioned this earlier too, but it warrants a complaint of its own. A lot of photos depict guys staring off into the distance – ‘what are they looking at?’ I think to myself. Or they look down at their shoes – ‘are they that camera shy, or do they just have really nice shoes?’ I think to myself. Or they look past the camera – ‘what is beyond it? Are they looking at the person taking the photo or their bedroom wall? What is so fascinating back there?’ I think to myself. It’s not difficult. Just look at the camera. The point of the photo is that’s it’s a picture of you. Do you naturally look elsewhere than at the target? Do you never give your date eye contact? Or are you just easily distracted? This latter may be the case, but at least try and look interested for a few seconds.
DO take a few practice shots first. This could help. Too often do I see people who look incredibly awkward in their pictures. Get comfortable with taking photos of yourself and you’ll look more relaxed when you come to take the one for your profile. You can stress about how you look once you’ve snagged a date, but do try and look comfortable in your picture. It’s just you, your camera, and maybe one other person in the room while the photo is taken. You can relax here. In connection with this …
DON’T be afraid to ask for help in taking a photo. If you can’t take one yourself – maybe it’s uncomfortable for you, or you can’t get a good angle – don’t forget you can ask for help. Ask your Mum, your best friend, your maths teacher if you have to, but if you need a hand, don’t be afraid to ask for one. In the long run it may help take a better picture – they may have tips.
DON’T take your photo from your bed. This is a simple one. C’mon, dude! Get up out of your bed, stand up, and take a picture that doesn’t make me wonder if you spend all your time there. Photographs taken from the perspective where you are lying down is very often unflattering. Your face-flesh spills onto the pillow and your chin will protrude at an abominable angle. You can’t help this. Just sit up in a chair, or stand by the window. It will look so much more natural. If I know what you look like lying in bed, I would hope the circumstances were hella different.
DO take off your sunglasses. Scrolling for examples just now of things to slate in this post I came across one page where at least eight photographs contained sunglasses. Again, like a few of these before, if you want to put a picture like that up then do it later. Don’t use it as your profile picture. I’d like to see the fact of the person I might be dating. The worst thing is they’re not even small sunglasses, they’re all Aviators and the like which basically cover the entire face. You’re profile is about you and if you cover yourself up with glasses, how am I supposed to know what you really look like.
DON’T make offensives gestures. I literally just saw a photo of some guy flipping the proverbial bird at me. Twice.
DON’T post an embarrassing photo of yourself. This goes for pictures in general. Save the awkward drunken photographs for Facebook. As your date, I’d rather not have advanced knowledge of what you look like semi-naked and wearing make-up.
And lastly, but most importantly …
DO HAVE A FUCKING PICTURE. I don’t think I need to explain this one. It seems pretty obvious. I’d rather know if I’m dating a human or an android. I’m not dissing androids, but I’d still like to know if I’m setting myself up for a future life with one.