Submit to the superficial: The do’s and don’ts of dating app pictures

By Associate Editor

If you’ve used dating apps like “Tinder,” “Grindr” or “HER” you know better than anyone that first impressions can mean everything.

Users have only a few seconds to grab the attention of their potential true loves or they will “swipe left” and continue searching. Good looks may only be skin deep but choosing the right photos to grab other users’ attention is crucial to dating app success.

It can happen to anyone, but it happens plenty to Columbia students who recall painful experiences while learning the do’s and don’ts of dating app profile pictures.


DO: Offer a variety

Give potential matches a realistic view of your appearance with a diverse set of photos. Try not to make every photo the same. Everyone understands you like your smolder, but six photos with the same expression are a bit much.

“I try to have at least two colored photos: one that is full body and one that is just my face,” said Caitlyn Clear, a sophomore television major who uses “Tinder” and “HER.”


DON’T: Have only one photo

Having a single dating app photo is an automatic red flag. Not only does it imply you’re only able to take one good photo of yourself, leaving details up to a potential match’s imagination is never a good tactic for Internet romance.

Dylan McBrayer, a sophomore design major who uses “Tinder,” said he typically assumes accounts with a single photo are trying to catfish him, so he will not swipe right for those users.

“Obviously if you’re going to have one photo in this day and age, it’s not a solid way to justify whether or not the person is real [or] takes the app seriously,” McBrayer said.


DO: Have a photo with an animal

What’s better than scoring a cute date? Scoring a cute date who has an even cuter pet. A huge realm of the dating app community finds photos with a furry friend to be an automatic “yes, please.” There’s even a Tumblr blog dedicated to screenshots of guys’ “Tinder” photos posing with tigers. While The Chronicle does not encourage endangering oneself by approaching wildlife for extra matches, adding even the average dog or cat can heighten your level of attraction.

However, Sammie Alli, a sophomore business & entrepreneurship major and “Tinder” user, advises people to still proceed with caution when swiping right for that cute guy posing with his puppy.

“Everybody does that,” Alli said. “I see so many puppies, kittens and babies. I have a soft spot for that. If I keep reading and the [guy is] weird, I can’t deal with that.”



DON’T: Have a picture of JUST an animal—or any kind of inanimate object

Dating app users want to converse with a human, not your dog or totally impressive car. While this may seem obvious, Clear said she has fallen victim to this phenomenon.

“They’ll have a picture of a clock, or maybe a fish,” Clear said. “I’m like, ‘OK, you like time. I, too, enjoy time. That’s fascinating.’”


DO: Take high-quality photos

Presentation matters. A flip phone photo may turn people away while a shot from a Nikon has the clear, high-quality look that is pleasing to the eye.

If one picture is your only app effort, a half-assed shot is not going to cut it. Avoid blurry, grainy pictures and, most importantly, take it with the highest quality technology you can get your hands on. If this means using a friend’s phone or downloading a picture that was taken on a high-resolution camera, so be it.

If done correctly, a high-quality shot gives off  carefree but not

careless vibes.


DON’T: Overshare

This can also be read as “don’t be terrifying.” This is where those dating app nightmares come into play, including everything from unsolicited dick pics to images so unusual that they can haunt someone for days to come.

Clear said her worst—and most memorable experience—was something she still cannot explain.

“It was a picture of a girl next to this grave, and she was in a bridal dress,” she said. “There was no explanation. And it had a weird filter—like a Chrome filter, which made no sense for the photo. It was just a bunch of don’ts.”

This is the wrong end of the spectrum to be on in the battle for app attention.  If you would not show someone this photo on a first date in real life, stop what you’re doing and back away from the smartphone.