how to- bad profile photos

i don’t belong to a dating site.  however, someone (or some-computer) has used my old email to sign me up for a dating site in another country.  i can’t get onto this site to cancel it because i don’t know the password, but i get daily emails to remind me of the singles in ‘my area.’  these emails are filled with profile pictures to lure me in, i assume.  however, i find that they do almost the opposite.  in fact, these pictures have pushed me into becoming very critical of profile pictures. 

for a recent job i had to send in a head shot.  i never had to do that before, but having worked with actors for years, i knew that choosing the right head shot was important.  so i did a little research on what goes into making a decent headshot for this particular job.  their requirements were pretty easy.  things like; make sure your face is visible, smile and look friendly, be in an appropriate place.  i tried to follow the instructions and sent in a friendly picture of me on a sunny day with my yard in the background. 

i got the job and. along with my co-workers i was later asked to assess the pictures that came in from potential hires.  while many pictures were just fine, several were just odd and made you wonder what the thought was behind choosing that particular shot to represent themselves.  for instance; a picture of a ‘professor-like guy’ (tweed jacket with elbow patches and all) sitting in a large leather chair holding a flute, and picture of a guy with a backwards ball cap flashing a hang ten sign with one hand and holding a large frosty beer mug with the other in a bar.     

this particular job involved teaching young ESL students, so you might begin to wonder as we did. . . why the flute?!  or. . . okay, you look like a fun guy to hang out with in a bar, but will you finish your work so we don’t have to cover your ass and therefore can have fun with you later at the bar?

while i don’t subscribe to judging a book by its cover, there is something to looking a part.  

so, when choosing a picture to represent yourself to potential dates, i feel there are a couple common sense stipulations to follow.  (pretty much the same requirements as for my former job- make sure your face is visible, smile and look friendly, be in an appropriate place). . .at least in general.  there will always be someone interested in what you put out there.  if i were to take a picture of a used toothbrush, someone would be into it. . . somewhere.

after receiving these daily emails, i started to notice some obvious oversights of these stipulations.  i sent some to my friend in an email, and she found them humorous, so i’ve gathered some more to have a fun look at how to take bad profile photos.   

#1- the elusive, ‘not in the shot’ shot.

yep, this guy is no where to be seen.  i can’t imagine someone CHOOSING this picture for their profile.  i mean, the tree isn’t even in focus.

#2-  ‘the bad crop.’  seriously, this picture looks professional. . . why crop across his face?  unless my theory about these pictures being farmed by computers and not actually placed by humans is correct.

does resting bitch face apply to men?  i categorized these as #3-  ‘uninterested.’  it’s how they look, and it’s how i feel.  oddly, the pictures are framed well and have good lighting/ setting, but their expression, or lack there of makes me wonder if they’ve been pushed to join the site. 

then we can move to a near opposite.  #4- the ‘angry men.’  perhaps these men were also forced to join the site, and they feel obligated to show their resentment.  or this was the picture taken directly before they reminded the photographer that they already asked to have no pictures taken of them.

from angry we’ll move to #5- ‘smug guys.’  i don’t know if these men are actually stuck on themselves. . . but don’t you just get that sense from these pictures?

and then, #6- ’smug-lite.’  again, these could be actual acting head shots. . . but their half smirk and non smile make them feel unaccessible.

these next two might be the sweetest guys in the world, but i would never attempt to find out because they couldn’t figure out how to avoid uploading a creepy-ass picture of themselves.  #7- ’creepy guys.’

these three are just #8- ‘too chill’ for my taste.  i like a guy who knows how to relax and be cozy, but how you look when you flop into a couch or bed after several beers isn’t where i want to start.  give me something to look forward to.

quick profile photography tip:  put your face where the light can hit it.  if we were to strike up a conversation and decided to take it into the real world, i’d like to be able to identify you by your facial features.  i would see this happening in a nicely lit place like a restaurant or a park.  i don’t want to know how you look creeping up behind me in a dark alley.  #9- ‘too dark.’

along the lines of wanting to see your face but it being cast into darkness; let me introduce #10-  ‘guys in hats.’

in the ‘poorly used accessories’ category (which could technically contain ‘guys in hats’) are #11- ‘guys in shades.’  why is it that ‘guys in shades’ look a lot like the ‘uninterested guys?’

but wait!  you can add the two together to get, #12- ‘guys with shades and a hat.’  you see, it was bright enough out to get past the hat and light their faces, so to mask their identities further, they wore shades.

a special subset of ‘guys in shades’ needed attention.  #13- ‘guys in shades in a car.’  there were a lot of them which is why i felt it necessitated their own set.  i guess their lives are so bustling, the only time they think to take a picture to add to their profile is when they are sitting down. . . and even then, they are on the go, speeding across highways.

and for those who wish to conjure images of being in witness protection, we have #14- ‘guys in the dark with a hat, or shades, or both.’

you may think to yourself, “i need a picture to post to a dating site.  i want to look happy and approachable, and i’m happiest on sunny days.  in fact, my best pictures are always taken of me enjoying a bright day.  but how can i get a good picture of myself on a happy, sunny day that doesn’t have my shades obscuring my adorable face?”

well, here’s some advice just for you.  step inside quickly, you’ll probably need a cool drink to rehydrate after hanging out in the sun for so long anyway.  while making your way to hydration, push your shades up, and while you’re still smiling and happily intoxicated by the sun’s ability to boost your mood, have someone snap a shot of you. 

this guy did shades right.

well done.  now get back outside to soak up those rays!

i love me a good hat. . . both on other people and worn by me. 

whether it’s being used as a hat should, or if it’s comically costumey; hats don’t have to interfere with the ability to distinguish facial features.  just check out these guys. 
hats FTW!

(adorable guys.  way to get those facial features into the light!)

you might think that getting past shades or hats is hard enough.  but how could one possibly get a good look at my winning smile when donning both a hat and shades?!

well, check out this clever chap. 

strong work sir!

moving on. . .

the selfie is a big part of our modern world.  while it would be nice to have the time and money to get a professional photographer’s help while making and choosing new profile pics, it isn’t practical.  (however, i won’t discourage it!)
it’s important to know how to take a good selfie.  whether you use a timer, or just outstretch your arms; get to know your angles.  i understand why fashion bloggers might use the mirror shot to show off an outfit, but i don’t get #15- ‘taken in a mirror.’  it’s a two part problem for me.  first- it suggests that you don’t know how to switch from the back facing camera to the front facing camera, and second- you can’t figure out how to take a mirror picture and crop out the fact that your camera shows in the mirror.  (and in some cases, you don’t know to look up from the image on your phone to the image in the mirror.)

next up, #16- ‘sauna shot,’ aka, ‘dreamy, bleary-eyed shot,’ aka, ‘vaseline on my lens.’

#17- ‘otherwise occupied.’  another set of guys who are too busy to be bothered to stop and look into a camera lens for a profile pic. 

closely related, and possibly overlapping is, #18- ‘surprise! you’re on camera.’  you possibly weren’t aware that someone was taking a picture of you.  some of these photographers were friends and put up a nice picture of you.  some of these photographers weren’t so nice and are trying to ensure that no genuine date interest comes your way. 

the errors made in this set of photos wouldn’t keep me from contacting these guys if i were interested.  introducing #19- ‘fine by me.’  somehow, they managed to make themselves identifiable in a pleasing manner, or pushed enough charm through that their small infractions don’t matter. 

they felt that their best picture was taken in a car:

they wore shades:

. . . or a hat that didn’t totally cast their face into shadow:

they were trying so hard to look ‘casual,’ that they flew past it and just ended up in ‘trying too hard to look casual.’

the source of light is too bright and you can’t tell if they are genuinely smiling, or just squinting:

their best photo is their work ID:

they got the angle just a little wrong which makes them look like a giant among men:

they’re pulling off a really great hat, you just wish they would try a smile:

they are trying to squeeze their amazing abilities or accomplishments into such a tiny profile picture that you aren’t quite sure what they look like:

sure the picture is too dark, but he looks enough like alan tudyk that it doesn’t matter:

there.  now we can move on to #20- ‘profile pic like a boss.’  they are flashing a winning smile and they’ve compose the picture so you can actually see that smile.  and at least by photographic standards, you might not be frightened of them choosing the seat next to you on a bus ride.

and high marks for a couple who squeezed in an activity or a cute pet-like animal (i’m not talking dead elephants or drugged tigers) without taking away from their own shot:

before we leave all these wonderful guys, i have a few more.  these were stashed into my earlier ‘no pass’ piles. . . but something kept bringing me back to them.  somehow, they’ve managed to profile pic wrong, yet they did something else so good i feel it negates the mistake. 

i’ll call them #21- ‘the miracle shots.’

first we have this guy.  he’s in a car.  he’s got on a hat.  he’s wearing shades.  i wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up without him being in this exact pose, but it also looks like he’s singing his lungs out to his favorite jam:

next up- too close!  it looks professional. . . but seriously, does the poor guy have ears?!  either way, i can’t get past that adorable smile:

this guy should be in the ‘smug’ pile.  that partial smirk is irking me!  but he’s crushing that hat and it’s hard for me to turn down a ginger:

lastly, this guy.  not sure if he posted it, or someone else.  the picture’s a little dark, and he’s not making eye contact. . . but don’t you want to know what his laugh sounds like?!  so charming:

i’ve been accused of having standards that are too high.  this may be the case for how i judge profile pics.  however, when i think back to how my co-workers and i would extrapolate from a potential hire’s photo, or the stories we could make up from from just their name and home town off their resume; you might begin to see how having a bit of flawed information or poorly highlighted information can cause judgements to snowball. . . i’m thinking about the flute guy again. 

it’s also possible that this entire post could be nullified because no humans played a roll in selecting these pictures. 

either way, you now know how to do bad profile photos.

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