Are you not getting the Tinder matches you’d like (or Bumble / Hinge / etc.)? Let’s talk about why. Is it because you are ugly, short, skinny, fat? No matter what you think is the answer – you are probably wrong. The majority of men fail to understand how women use online dating apps. Specifically, they (and you) probably underestimate the importance of your Tinder profile pictures.
Let’s give a real-world example. Imagine a man who, in real life, looks like a model. Yet he only gets a handful of Tinder matches a week. Why? Because his photos suck. But he is good looking, so he should do fine without having to put a lot of energy into his Tinder pics, right? Wrong.
Here’s what his (and most men’s) Tinder profile looks like:
- Headshot. Probably cropped out of the late-night drunk group photo. Bad Lighting. Blurry. You can’t see if he has brown eyes or blue eyes or purple eyes.
- Awkwardly Posed Group photo from a travel trip. Great, he travels! But, he looks as if he had to go pee real bad and somebody (probably his mom) forced him to take this picture. So he cheeses hard while looking constipated. Poor body language. Lame fashion sense.
- The Car Selfie. My fav. Why would you want to take selfies in the car and post them on Tinder? Doesn’t make sense to me. It’s such a tight cramped place with no background. Can’t you just ask a friend to take a photo for them? This is a red flag for most girls – they will assume that you are not social at all.
- Fishing Photo. My second favorite – the infamous “Look! I caught this huge fish photo”. Please don’t post it on Tinder. Post it on IG or Facebook if you really want to but not on dating sites. Girls are bored of seeing the same photo on every man’s profile. Give her something different – something unique. Plus, you will potentially turn off highly environment-conscious girls who are against animal cruelty.
That’s more or less what an average man’s profile looks like on Tinder. You can do better than that.
Having a strategic structure to your Tinder photos can make a huge difference to your perceived value to the girl – I’ve seen some guys more than triple their matches.
Here’s an extreme example of my friend’s profile that I revamped 2 years ago.
Again, this is an extreme example – I’d say a 3x increase in matches by using a better structure to your Tinder photos is average.
But to understand why this works, we have to understand how a woman thinks when she goes on dating apps.
How do girls swipe on Tinder? Why are they so picky?
Did you know that an average girl will swipe left on about 86% of guys? In other words, girls swipe right on about 1 in 8 guys. Meanwhile, guys swipe right on nearly 1 in 2 girls. Huge disconnect, right? The bottom line: girls are looking for an excuse to swipe left – whereas we men look for an excuse to swipe right.
Men: “She has a nice smile, looks cute. Sure. Why not?”. *Swipes Right*
Women: “Uh, he looks cute but all his photos are waist up. Does he not have legs” *Swipes Left*
Men: “Oh, she has a nice booty” *Swipes Right*
Women: “Hmm, he has a nice body, but why is he wearing sunglasses in all his photos? I have no idea what his face looks like. Nah” *Swipes Left*
Men: “Her bio says – ‘ Here for a good time, not a long time.’ Hell yeah!” *Swipes Right*
Women: “Interesting. All his photos are against a wall. Maybe he doesn’t go outside a lot” *Swipes Left*
Do you see the pattern? Women in the dating realm are very, and I mean, very risk-averse. Why? Why do men behave differently? Biologically and evolutionarily speaking, a woman is risking nine months of her life and health by just engaging in sexual intercourse. She wants to make sure that her offspring is well taken care of by an Alpha Male who has all the resources, respect, and authority to protect her and her offspring. Even with the invention of birth control measures, this psychological remnant is still there, though often subconsciously.
Naturally, she is likely to favor a male who “clearly shows” the highest value in his profile. I would emphasize “clearly shows” again – because this is the part where most men fail.
Men can be an 8/10 attractiveness in real life, but their Tinder pictures show themselves as 5/10 or 6/10. No Bueno. Why? Because most men just go on their camera roll and select some random pictures. Some random selfies in the mall or pics their friends took on a trip. That’s not the right way to go about it.
AK’s Tinder Photo Formula
Think of Tinder / Bumble / Hinge as an online marketing campaign – where each photo slot is “real estate” where you get to showcase yourself. Don’t just go through your Camera Roll and select some random pictures. You have to really invest the time to think about what features, qualities of yourself, and your lifestyle that you are trying to depict.
After testing and experimenting, I’ve found that there are 3 types of photos you need to have in your profile to get the most matches. This “formula” has worked on dozens of men. And every kind of guy you can think of – tall, short, skinny, muscular, chubby, bald, black, white, Asian, Latino, Indian, rich, poor, student, working professional – if you have these three photos, in the right number and the correct order, you can get up to a 3x bump in matches.
It’s simple. You need to have these 3 photos in your profile to maximize your display of value. I’ll break down each of them in full detail in the next sections.
- Headshot Picture
- Full Body Picture
- Activity Picture(s)
Aim for 4 to 6 pictures in total. You can have multiple activity photos. Depending on the type of girls and location, you can pick and choose. Here’s a sample setup you can try (in order): Headshot, Full Body, 3 Activity pictures.
Travel and Group photos can also add value; however, those are very easy to mess up on.
Additionally, make sure your fashion and style are on point and consistent. Try not to wear the same apparel in each photo. Keep your haircut, facial hair, and body frame consistent. Don’t dress like GQ in one picture and as a homeless man in another. Don’t look malnourished skinny in one and look jacked like Mr. Olympia in another. Be consistent in your fashion and style. Women tend to notice fine details.
Tinder Headshot Picture
Key Takeaways: Headshot Photos
- Full Face. Show your face clearly. Don’t use any accessories like sunglasses or hats. The girl wants to see what you would look like on the date. If you show only one side of the face, the woman will assume that you are like ‘Two-Face’ from Batman and she will swipe left.
- Eyes. Both eyes should be showing clearly. Women want to see the man’s eyes. They build trust, show man’s confidence, show man’s dominance, etc. Try to look up or at the camera with confidence while squinching your eyes.
- Grooming. Make sure you look sharp. Women spend hundreds of dollars on makeup and multiple hours in the salon. As a man, you can easily spend at least 10 minutes on your face. Make sure of the following. Beard is nicely groomed. Hair is styled elegantly. No unibrow. No nose-hair sticking out. Any of these flaws can potentially result in a left swipe.
Bonus: Headshot Photo Amplifiers
Showcasing a bit of high-value activity or something out of the norm can take you a long way.
Most guys on Tinder have a boring car selfie or a mirror selfie. You can beat the competition by getting a little creative.
In the first picture, the man is looking dapper in this navy suit. This picture portrays him as a high value, rich, tall, muscular man. If this man primarily lives in a college town, he has already won the game because he looks mature and resourceful
In the second picture, the man has a headshot wearing a puffer jacket in the middle of a snowstorm. If this man lives in sunny California, where it never snows – this picture already wins extra brownie points.
Full Body Tinder Picture
Key Takeaways: Full Body Pictures
- Full Body. Show your whole body clearly. Don’t show just one side of your body. Show the torso clearly. Like us, men want to have a clear picture of a girl’s full body. Girls want to see the same, so they can get a sense of Tall, Short, Skinny, Muscular, Fat, etc.
- Body Language. Demonstrate an open, welcoming, positive, confident body language. Maintain good posture—no slouching or showing tiredness. The picture should create a narrative in a girl’s head. “ Wow, he looks so confident and welcoming. He must be very cool and adventurous.”
- Fashion. Wear fitted clothes and practice minimalism. Visit the tailor and get clothes fitted to your body or buy new clothes at H&M. Try not to add more than 3 or 4 colors to your outfit. Stick with core colors – black, navy, grey, and white for the most part. Optionally, add one accent color (like red) for the pop. You will look much more mature and higher status.
Bonus: Full Body Picture Amplifiers
Again, showcasing a bit of high-value activity or something out of the norm can take you a long way.
Most guys on Tinder have a boring group photo or awkwardly posed travel pic. You can beat the competition by getting a little creative.
In the first picture, the man has a picture of him with his dog by the ocean waters. This picture adds to both the dog lifestyle and the traveling lifestyle.
The second picture looks like the guy is walking out of a five-star hotel lobby while sipping on some Starbucks. Again, this picture adds to a high-status and rich travel lifestyle.
Tinder Activity Pictures
Key Takeaways: Activity Pictures
- Activity. Showcase your lifestyle with high-status activities. The higher status of the activity is, the better the photo will work. For example, a picture of yourself playing guitar is much better than playing video games on Xbox. The main point is to try to capture photos of you doing something that showcases your personality. Ideally, it’s also something attractive to women. It can be singing, dancing, photography, cooking, lifting, public speaking, performing for an audience, etc.
- Natural Expression. It’s crucial to show that the picture was naturally taken. In the first picture, the man is squinting hard and is looking through the lens from the other eye. This shows authenticity. Most guys who get professional photos taken for tinder will fail at this. Make sure to look as natural as possible. It should look like a snapshot out of a movie and not a stage picture.
- Use Props. In the second picture, the man looks like an influencer because he is sitting on a sofa with the camera on a tripod recording him. Who knows? Maybe he is being interviewed for a documentary, or he is making video content for his followers. Having different showpieces builds a better picture; it conveys a better story.
- Face and Body. Since this is an activity picture, the focus should not be the man’s face or his body. The focus should remain on the activity and your passion for it. However, girls should be able to make out that it’s the same guy and you are not using a fake picture you found on the internet.
Bonus: Activity Picture Amplifiers
Most guys on Tinder have a boring gym selfie or a photo with a gigantic fish they just caught. Again, you can beat the competition by getting a little creative. If you have any of these two photos, swap them ASAP from your profile for the above-mentioned higher status activity pictures.
Common Tinder Photo Mistakes
There are a LOT of mistakes guys make on Tinder. If you don’t believe me, ask a girl you’re seeing to swipe through her Tinder with you and tell you what she thinks about the guys’ photos. Here are the most common mistakes I’ve seen:
- Not taking enough pictures. Let me give you some real numbers from professional photographers who shoot your favorite IG models. We end up taking thousands of photos! The yield is usually 1% to 5%. Meaning only 10 to 50 out of 1000 photos taken actually come out good and “usable” to go into editing. Out of which only a handful makes for a good Tinder photo. So don’t be shy. Take as many pics as you want. Aim for at least 200 photos per session.
- Not Editing. It’s 2021 folks! Get on with it. Every influencer/celeb is retouching their photos before publishing them. Get your teeth whitened, dark eye circles removed, zits removed, etc. Ask your photographer or find someone on Fiverr, the risk of doing it yourself is that it comes across obviously Photoshopped.
- Showing too much teeth. Women prefer a smirk or a serious look when it comes to dating. Even if it feels unnatural, it’s worth the effort. Try practicing in front of a mirror in privacy or practice taking photos with your friends.
- Lame Backgrounds. Most guys who get Tinder photos taken get them taken aimlessly next to a bland wall on the street. Don’t be that guy. Put in some effort and google “best photo spots in San Francisco.” Pick 2 or 3 locations and take photos there.
- Bad Lighting. Photography is 80% lighting. Bad lighting can make or break the photo. Make sure to take pictures when sunlight is not too harsh. Usually, on a sunny day, it’s going to be one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset – also known as the golden hour. If you live in a place where it’s always cloudy, then you’re golden – take photos all day.
- Terrible Angles. Most men get their tinder photos taken by amateurs or professionals who don’t understand female psychology. Having pictures taken at eye level makes you look short, smaller, and narrower than you are. It’s a simple optical illusion. Guess what? Women prefer tall, wider, bigger alpha males. Solution? Get photos taken at a low angle. The camera is placed around the abdomen or knee level.
- Bad Fashion. The average male has a horrendous style. Trust me. The most time-consuming part of my consultations is actually getting the guy’s fashion right. Why? Because it involves changing self-image and getting over the ego. All I ask you is – just try. Most men wear clothes 1 or 2 sizes too big or too small. Clothes should be conforming but not so tight that you can’t move in them. Litmus test: you should be able to do a push-up & a squat wearing them. Stick to core colors for the most part – black, brown, white, navy, and grey. Ditch the running shoes. Try White Leather Sneakers or Chelsea Boots. Avoid piercings. Tattoos are solid. Accessories in moderation are good: rings, necklaces, watches. If you aren’t obese, prefer Skinny Fit or Slim Fit over Relaxed Fit.
- Looking like Couch Potato. Most men want a fit girl with a nice booty. Well, girls want the same – a man who is fit and healthy. If you have a big belly or no jawline, then use angles and outerwear (jackets and coats) that help cover that up. At the same time, don’t be a catfish. Up to 10 pounds up or down is fine. If you use a shirtless picture, make sure you look good: V taper, nicely developed muscles, and preferably with defined abs.
- Low Consistency. It is crucial that all your photos have similar editing, fashion, facial attributes, body structure. Having 3 photos that are 9/10 but just one bad photo that is 5/10 can really hurt you. Basically, if one Tinder pic makes you look like a completely different human from all your other photos, don’t use it. Remember, girls are very risk-averse on dating apps.
- No Authenticity. This will sound hypocritical. Your photos should not look staged. Think about it. Would Dan Bilzerian go out and get a special shot done for tinder? No. He will already have tons of high-quality photos lying around from his adventures. Ideally, you want to come across as an IG Influencer or a higher status male who “naturally” happens to be around cameras and interesting travel locations. It’s okay if you are not photogenic, you can easily get over it. For starters, try practicing in front of a mirror, taking selfies, asking friends to take your pictures. Slowly, you can perfect the authentic look.
Bottom Line: Taking Your Tinder Pictures to the Next Level
This 3 photo formula sounds very simple, but it is actually decently hard to implement. You will need to objectively look at your pictures and compare them with the examples shown (plus other quality Tinder photos and top dating app pictures that the PWF team has shared). Ask yourself things like: Is my headshot photo showing my full face and both eyes? Does my body language project confidence? Are my activity photos really showing my passions? Do my photos make me look short and smaller than I am? Is it bad angles or lighting?
With this information, hopefully, you have a better idea of how to select photos for your online dating profile.
If you found this valuable, or if you have questions, let us know in the comments!
– AK, Photographer (Follow me on Instagram for more photo examples)