By this point in your life, you've likely uploaded at least one picture to a social media site. And in doing so, you probably took some time considering how your facial expression, location, outfit, what have you might be received by your friends, family and strangers. So you can understand why when it comes to an online dating picture, it's a whole different ballgame.
With more and more couples getting to know each other online, the online dating picture literally creates your first chance to meet someone and hook their interest — dating website eHarmony.com notes that profiles with pictures are nine times more likely to receive communication than those without.
But how can you choose from the variety of snaps on your smartphone to find the one that could lead to love? Fortunately, dating sites (which, after all, have a vested interest in your use of them) have conducted plenty of research based on their users' profiles to determine which pictures get attention — of all sorts. And frankly, it is surprisingly fascinating.
Check out these do's and don'ts of pictures, and what they will mean for your online dating life:
DO: Make It A Landscape Shot
Landscape pictures, according to eHarmony's blog, are more likely to be clicked on than up-and-down or extremely close shots, likely because it gives people a better sense of the person's body, as well as their face.
DON'T: Crop Someone Out
Along with falling into that narrow "up and down" no-no, cropping someone out results in less communication, according to eHarmony. And besides, you really should have at least one good picture of you on your own somewhere.
DO: Upload A Bunch Of Pictures
Give the people what they want! And in this context, that means a variety of pictures, so that prospects can get a good sense of what you look like, what you're into and so on.
DON'T: Snap From Afar
Though you don't want to get too close, you also don't want your picture to be taken from far away — that can seem as though you're hiding something about your appearance.
DO: Show Your Left Side
Real scientific research has gone into this one, so why not trust it? Apparently showing the left side of your face in pictures is more aesthetically pleasing, according to PsychCentral, and has the added bonus of showing more emotion.
DON'T: Feature Shots Of Your Buddy
Even if it's the most platonic of friendships, don't include a picture of yourself with a member of the opposite sex if you're looking for a heterosexual relationship. In general, keep pictures confined to shots of yourself.
DO: Show Pride (If You're A Guy)
According to eHarmony, some studies have shown that women prefer pictures of men who demonstrate pride — whereas the opposite is true for men when it comes to women.
DO: Show Happiness (If You're A Gal)
That same study showed that men prefer women who demonstrate happiness in their profile pictures, assumedly because it's associated with femininity and nurturing, and are least attracted to women showing pride.
DO: Get Outdoors
Taking a picture outside allows for the flattering effect of natural sunlight on skin, notes eHarmony. Just be careful to avoid squinting into the sun, and opt for a sideways glance instead.
DON'T: Be In A Costume
As one eHarmony blogger pleads, even if you think it's a hilarious picture, don't put up a shot of your Halloween costume. Sure, you want someone who shares your sense of humour, but let them see what you look like first.
DO: Get Flirtatious With The Camera
OkCupid found that, to their surprise, when women made a "flirty face" without smiling at the camera, it generated more new contacts in a month than any other expression. Flirting away from the camera, however, was the least favoured expression.
DO: Get Serious Away From The Camera
For men on OkCupid, the most favoured expression was an unsmiling face that looked away from the camera — possibly, they theorized, because it gave an air of mystery. Flirting away from the camera, however, was also still a big no-no.
DO: Take A Selfie (If You're A Gal)
The researchers seemed as surprised by this as us, but apparently, the selfie, duck face or MySpace photo was the biggest hit by OkCupid users in terms of context. Is it possible it is the most flattering angle?
DO: Grab An Animal (If You're A Guy)
As for men, the favoured context for a headshot was one featuring a guy with an animal, whether a pet or even one at the zoo. Though this may not apply to everyone, as it was followed closely by ...
DO: Show Off Those Abs
The second most popular context for men on OkCupid was showing off muscles — though the researchers are quick to point out that (a) obviously it's only guys who have them who would show them off, and (b) this becomes less attractive to women the older the guys are.
DO: Show Cleavage
This isn't necessarily a surprising finding, but men really do prefer profiles of women who show cleavage. The interesting point? Unlike the muscle men, as women get older, if they show cleavage, they're more likely to be messaged.
DO: Show Some Interests
OkCupid found that as far as a picture leading to a conversation goes, the most likely ones start with a shot of someone doing something interesting. And it's not hard to figure out why — it gives the messager an easy opening.
DON'T: Drink In Your Picture
Is it because you seem young when you feature booze in your profile picture or that you don't have any other interests? The research didn't specify, but drinking in your shot was the least likely picture to generate an actual conversation.