Depending on your target, you may personalize the following advice a bit. I assume in that post that you’re looking for a serious relationship and to attract quality people. Yet most rules apply to any profile, should you be a man or a woman.
Profiles with photos get more answers than others. Resist the urge to post any picture at hand that could go against your purpose though. Better post none right away than any which wouldn’t fit. A judicious choice of photos is paramount. Most, particularly men, will skip your profile if your image doesn’t appeal to them. So, to take photos especially for your profile is well worth the (little) effort.
Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, which will enhance your physical assets and skilfully hide your flaws. I don’t mean “cheat”. I mean “be smart”. :)
Gentlemen, look neat. Women have an eye for details. :D Bare chests, big golden chains, sunglasses, hats, open shirts, anything looking mannish in the old-fashioned way can be fatal. Photos of you in the mirror are of poor quality and poor taste. Better ban them absolutely ! A fashionably casual look is probably the safest choice. :)
Ladies, keep those sexy pics for your man when you’ve got one. No doubt they will attract the men’s eyes. Should they seek a long-term or serious relationship though, they may not appreciate half of the planet could have used a photo of you in your bikini as a screen saver. Be subtle. Suggest, don’t show. It is much more effective ! ;) Avoid overdressed attire, big jewels and heavy make up. Keep it simple and as natural as possible.
For God’s sake, don’t stereotype yourself ! People seek to get an as accurate as possible idea of what you look like in real life. Better be a good surprise than a disappointment when you eventually meet them in the flesh. ;)
Look lively. Standing like a picket fence in front of your garage door is not the most appealing. Shoot a lot of photos. If you’re not familiar with pausing, you will relax as the shooting goes and get better and more natural snapshots and have plenty to select from in the end. A natural daylight on a nice day, in the morning or end of the afternoon, is the best. The noon sun flattens the image. Flashlights harden the expression. Beware of unwanted shadows! Hire a friend or use a timer or a remote.
Eventually choose the photos which show your personality the best. The purpose is not for him (her) to mistake you for a fashion model. You should eventually look like a NATURALLY attractive REAL person.
When it comes to the selection, step back, ask for trusted friends’ advice, preferably of the other gender, and use your common sense. Think of what turns you off in others’ profiles and don’t make the same mistakes !
The viewer rightly expects:
Recent good quality pictures If you’ve got no decent camera, better borrow one. Cell phones and 5 minutes photo machines usually give poor results.
You may regularly update your photos, by the way. They will attract new people, plus those who may not have noticed your first ones, may have a second thought and check your profile again. The photos don’t need to be professional, though ruthlessly discard any over or underexposed, blurred, out of focus or centring ones.
Ideally, you would display: a portrait, a full-length picture and, though optional, a few ones of you enjoying any activity you’ve mentioned in your text.
The portrait : usually and logically, your main photo. That little thumbnail people will see when browsing profiles is what will make them “click”…or not. You seldom get a second chance to make a first good impression, so carefully choose this one. :)
The viewer should feel you’re looking at him (her) and speaking to him personally. The most efficient is to look at the camera and smile. Attractiveness doesn’t lie in made up perfection, but in what I call “the twinkle in the eye”. Picture the man (woman) of your dreams standing right there in front of you and seduce him. It will show through the photo, just like you can hear a smile on the phone. :)
The full-length picture : pay attention to the background. You may slightly touch it up to remove something unwanted. Make sure though you’re skilled enough to smartly and properly do it. If you’re not, ask someone more competent or pick another photo.
Carefully mind obvious mistakes like somebody else’s hand on your shoulder, around your waist, or a bit of somebody else’s hair or foot on the edge. Cropped pictures are seldom a good option, unless it is to improve the centring and even though, be cautious if you’re not an expert.
If you take the photo inside, particularly in your home, choose a somewhat neutral background. Your interior decoration can tell a lot about you and not always for the best! A bit of greenery can’t hurt, or an open background, in your garden or some not too crowded place. A cluttered background will compete with the main figure. It will distract the viewer from what you want him to focus on : you.
Other pictures : You can display several photos of you enjoying activities. This is where you can show different facets of you. Beware though, it can be tricky! Better make them match your profile assertions. Beware of inconsistencies and mixed messages.
In my opinion, to display photos of you with your children is not a brilliant idea. You never know where they will end and you may save them for the persons you’ve already connected with.
Gentlemen, regardless of how much you can cherish your car, mansion, motorbike, yacht, truck, know that they will not convince many women to contact you. Such a display looks fishy to most, as if you had to make up for a lack of anything they consider more important than your social status. It may well be interpreted as narcissism, beside by gold-diggers. If this is who you seek, then, perfect. :) To the others though, it is a total turn off more often than not.
Ladies and gentlemen, photos with persons of the other gender usually puts off any potential partner. If your other photos show your attractiveness, your contacts will soon assume you can pick your choice any time among all your suitors. No need to hit it on the nail! :D
The key word is, as always: balance. Don’t show too much, only what makes you different in a positive way and is the most representative of who you are in real life.
If you can find nothing definitely positive and representative to show in the last category, abstain.
Too many photos are not always a plus, in my opinion. Better three or even only one very good portrait of you, than half a dozen of so so pictures. Remember people will be able to watch them closely, at leisure and every bit of them can reveal something you’d rather not display for all to see.
Wouldn’t it be handy to have photo-checkers, like we have spell-checkers ? :D