How To Pick a Great Picture for Tinder

Looking to put your best foot forward where Tinder is concerned? If you found this article, then you’ve probably found countless others that tear apart your favorite pics and tell you everything you’ve been doing wrong. Are you including too many selfies or too few? Is that group photo of you and your friends at the beach helping or hurting your chances? What about that black and white filter you used on your favorite Paris shot? Sure, you can’t see your face, but it looks classy, doesn’t it?


Let me stop you right there. Of course, there are more or less flattering photos. Without a doubt, people that find you on Tinder will have some definite opinions about what they see. But at the end of the day, the only truly hard and fast rule that you need to follow is “be yourself.”


In this article, we’ve included some tips for choosing and structuring your Tinder photos to get you started as well as a few that you should watch out for and take with a grain of salt. Just remember to stay true to you and have fun. The best first impression is a genuine one.

The Psychology of Tinder

While investigating this topic myself, I came across several sites that really tried to psychoanalyze the Tinder user whether based on age, gender, or vague personality type. You’ve probably found some too in your search for the perfect Tinder profile.


One of the more popular theories involves some archaic Paleolithic approach to gender psychology. Sure, there are some studies on the matter, but they can mostly be boiled down to “men want to spread the love while women want to settle down.” “Men want women who are virtuous and loyal while women want men who are strong and stable.” You can see where this is going. But in this post Mad Men world, I think we can hold out at least a shred of hope that our potential Tinder dates are more evolved than that.


If that’s not enough, then you’ve got studies trying to figure out if your photos paint you as an introvert or an extrovert, sensitive or confident, curious or cautious, and so on. First of all, duh. I don’t think anyone in the history of social media thought that you couldn’t make inferences about someone’s personality from their photos. Second of all, if you’re really trying to be yourself and not just trying to paint the image of the ideal mate, then who cares how you might be labeled? What matters is whether or not the other person likes what you’ve go to offer.


In short, stop trying to overanalyze your life. Don’t include your Myers Briggs personality type from that corporate test you took. Just relax.

Tips to Take With a Grain of Salt

All of that being said, there are some general guidelines that you might find helpful when setting up your profile. The following tips are extremely popular, so maybe there’s something to them. However, don’t take them too much to heart.

1. Don’t Include People of the Opposite Sex

Is that studly guy to your left your brother, best friend, or ex? Who knows? Anyone can tell you that including pictures of you and ex flames is probably not advisable for your dating profile. And anyone looking at your profile without any other knowledge of you can’t possibly know who that strange man is. That’s why a lot of people advise Tinder users to avoid the question altogether.


Then again, if you’re anything like me, then most of your friends were of the opposite sex throughout your 20s. If I followed this rule, then I’d be forced to either crop my favorite photos into abstract shapes or photoshop the cast of Sex in the City onto all of my guy friends. At the end of the day, be you. If that potential Tinder match can’t get past the idea that you would be in the same room as another man, then he’s far from worth it.

2. Don’t be Controversial

What exactly is a controversial photo? It could be anything from a selfie of you at a political rally to an artsy portrait of you smoking a cigarette. In short, any photo that might illuminate an interest or activity that could be distasteful to some should be considered carefully.


This is a tricky one. A little controversy could hurt you or help you, depending on the situation and your goals. Ask yourself if you want to cast a wide net or attract a specific type of person. The whole point of avoiding controversy is to not offend or repel anyone, but if said activity, interest, or political belief is near and dear to your heart, then maybe you want to make sure the people who swipe right are on the same page.

3. Say No to Selfies

I’ve been hearing this one a lot. Apparently, something about a selfie feels tacky, vain, or shallow. But why? It’s literally just you taking a photo of yourself and is philosophically identical to you asking some random stranger to do the same. If you want to avoid selfies, then fine. But try to worry more about what’s in front of the camera and less about who’s behind it.

My Advice to You

Now that we’ve thoroughly deconstructed some popular Tinder photo advice, allow me to offer a few simple tips of my own.

1. Be Yourself

Have I said this enough? Good – I’ll say it one more time. Unless you’re really just in it for the hookups, this is advice to live by. After all, attracting the wrong person is nothing but a waste of time. Stop playing games and start taking ownership of who you are.

2. Show Your Face

While a classy photo of you with half your face covered by hair can definitely look sexy (and you should include it), make sure there are some photos in that mix that show your face clearly. Think about that scene in The Breakfast Club when Allison gets her hair pulled back from her face. Sure, she was gorgeous to begin with, but there’s a world of difference between shrinking violet and radiant.

3. Smile

Smile small. Smile big. Smile in every way imaginable. It’ll brighten your face and let the person on the other end know that you’re just as fun as you are mysterious.

4. Cool It on the Filters

Filters can be fun, especially when swapping goofy photos with your friends. But they can also be distracting and detract from the main point of any dating profile photo: you. A little style is ok, but avoid over filtering your photos. You want the other person to see you clearly. Also avoid using Snapchat-style filters that overlay ears and noses on your face. If you want to show that potential date how fun you are, then get a photo of yourself doing something fun. A doggy face is just a cop-out.

5. Keep it Recent

You could be cat fishing your dates without even meaning to. Of course, you want to put your best face forward, and maybe you just adore that cute picture of you at that office Christmas party six years ago, but resist the urge to use it. Don’t offer Tinder users a tour of your greatest hits. Show them the person they’re going to be meeting when you have that first date.

6. Start and Finish Strong

Your first and last photos in the series are the most important. The first photo is the first impression. That’s the photo that piques the viewer’s interest and gets him or her to look at more. It needs to be strong and clearly show your face. After that first photo, you can get a little more creative and cavalier in your photo choices. But make sure to come back to a strong and clear picture for your finish. Remind the viewer of how attractive and friendly you are. That’s the photo they are most likely to remember.

Just Breathe

Try to go easy on yourself and remember to be friendly and inviting when you do land a match. This isn’t Miss America or Mr. Universe. It’s supposed to be fun, and if one fish gets away, then others will be their to take its place. Just remember that you’re a catch too.

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