How to Choose the Right Online Dating Photos

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First impressions count, especially in online dating. There are so many people registered on online dating sites that it's more important now than ever to stand out from the crowd. And the most effective way to do that is to optimize the first point of contact for any potential date - your photos.

I'm always surprised to see people posting grainy photos, or shots with so much glare you can't make out the person's face, or pictures taken while staring at a reflection in the bathroom mirror. These are all online profile don'ts, because it doesn't give potential dates a snapshot of the real you.

How many times have you met someone for the first time and were disappointed because she didn't look like her pictures? Well, don't make the same mistake yourself. Posting great pictures isn't just about looking your best, it's about giving people a glimpse of who you are.

Following are some ways to choose the best online dating photos:

Stay current. While you might think you look the same as you did on that trip to Vegas five years ago, you don't. It's important to show who you are now, even if you have a few more wrinkles or an extra ten pounds. Honesty goes a long way in online dating.

Pick one headshot and one body shot. Potential dates want to see who you are. Don't be sly and post grainy, blurry, or otherwise poor quality photos. Choose one nice headshot and another that is full-length. If you only post photos from the neck up they will assume you have something to hide. So show off!

Pick at least one "active" picture. This is really important. You want to tell a story with pictures, because many people flip through photos first before they even start to read the profile. If you tell them your interests in photos - whether it's a shot of you hiking, sailing, horseback riding, or playing the guitar, they have a conversation starter.

Don't hide your face. Stay away from photos with hats and sunglasses as they hide your features. People like to see your eyes, your hair, and your whole face - not what you're wearing.

Don't stand beside your toys, friends or exes. Many guys like to take pictures next to their expensive cars, houses, or boats. This is not attractive to women. It makes you look like you have something to prove. Instead, choose pictures of you - just you. And ladies - don't include a group shot with friends, otherwise he might never figure out which one is you. (And do you really want to know he thought he was emailing your friend?) And for both sexes - choosing pictures with exes is a big no-no. We can tell even if you Photoshop them out. Leave them out of the mix.