Dating site photos are SOOO important for middle aged women, especially recent ones that are representative of what you look like.
When I first started using dating services after my separation at 49 years of age, I did not have a lot of good photos of myself. Unfortunately, I was the photographer in the family and 99% of all photos in my albums were of my husband and kid.
I figured, “Well, I want someone to be attracted to ME not my image”. So I put up some sketchy photos and hoped I would get a lot of response. I figured I would rather have the men I dated be pleasantly surprised when they met me rather than disappointed.
While I did get some responses, I kept hearing that I looked better than my photos.
My early experience with meeting men after seeing their photo online kept me using these bad photos since one third of men looked way worse than their photos, one third the same and one third better. When they looked worse it was very awkward for me and I struggled not to seem disappointed during the date. It was not always a deal breaker, but it did make me angry at them a bit and was not a good way to start the relationship.
Eventually though, after about a year of tepid responses I started to wonder if I would have a better response if I had a better photo. I had seen some research from OKCupid that the number one factor in a person deciding to contact someone was their photo. I noticed this tendency in myself as well.
I asked my friends and daughter to take some photos but I was just not happy with the ones they took. I went to the photo booth at the mall but the photos came out looking more like mug shots.
Finally I went to a professional photographer who advertised that he did dating photos. I was really nervous since I was still not 100% ready to fall in love again and was not fully comfortable with admitting I was divorcing, even to the photographer who was a complete stranger. But I felt that just going through the motions of dating would help me get ready to date for real again.
The photos were light and bright and evenly lit across my face. He took 100 shots and let me pick out about 10 of the best ones. He helped me find some great poses, told me what to wear and made me smile, smile and smile. I have to admit it was a little tiring, and I almost, almost felt some sympathy for professional models. It certainly isn’t as easy as it looks.
When I got the photos emailed to me a few days later I eagerly posted them on my dating profiles. I was trained as a scientist for many years so this was an opportunity to test the theory that better photos gets you more dates. Well, I have to say the theory is probably a fact. While it did not increase my hits as much as I had hoped, I did get a lot more emails, flirts, views, likes, 4 and 5 stars on OKCupid and dates; about a 5 fold increase.
When I first started dating online, I hit on a bunch of men that looked like good dating material. This was before I read The Rules for Dating and did not know it was best to let men hit on you first. At the time the men did not write back, but after my new photos were posted, 2 of them contacted me in one way or another on a different site from the one I had originally contacted them on!
With new photos there is always the worry that the photos are unrepresentative but I did not get any complaints about them at all.
So if you are starting to date online after 40, I would recommend putting some serious time, if not money, into getting some really good photos of yourself. 2 or 3 photos is fine, including one full body one.