Online Dating is About to Get a Whole Lot Harder (And Here’s How to Prepare)

September 1st, 2016 by Nick Notas 5 Comments

Close-up of male hands using modern smartphone at night, bikeh light in the background, professional businessman typing text message on his cellphone


Next Wednesday, the online dating space will undergo a massive change. My prediction is that it’s going to get a lot harder for the guys who aren’t equipped to deal with it.

Because on September 7th….Apple will unveil the iPhone 7!

And when it comes to online dating, mobile apps like Tinder dominate the scene — which is all about your pictures.

What I’m getting to is…the new iPhone 7 is speculated to equip a dual lens camera. This will enable anyone to take photos with “bokeh”. Bokeh is the Japanese word for blur and more often, the quality of that blur.

Still confused?

When you’ve seen professional portraits you’ve probably noticed that the main person in the picture is crystal clear while the background is blurry.

That blur is the “bokeh”. It’s not some digital effect or filter, but actually has to do with the lenses’ depth-of-field and what’s in focus. It’s what turns a good picture into an outstanding one in many people’s eyes.

Currently, the vast majority of people don’t post photos like that. So an easy way to stand out in online dating used to be to grab a friend’s DSLR or mirrorless camera and take some shots. A couple of those would immediately be better than whatever you had and whatever other guys have.

Those days are over.

While Apple isn’t the first to do this, they will start the mainstream trend and other manufacturers will jump on. Within 2-3 years max, everyone is going to have high quality, semi-professional looking photos.

So how are you going to keep up with the competition?

“Good” photos aren’t good enough

Do I actually believe the iPhone 7 is going to singlehandedly revolutionize online dating? No, I’m being a bit hyperbolic to hammer in a point.

Everyone is meeting people digitally and the trend is obvious…

Great pictures are becoming more and more essential to see any kind of consistent success.

It’s non-negotiable. Girls will swipe left immediately and move on if something doesn’t catch their eye. On sites like OKCupid and Match, they often won’t even open your message if your thumbnail doesn’t strike their fancy.

I don’t care if you have the most well-crafted story of a profile or you write some really thoughtful message. You won’t even get the chance to showcase those values if she can’t determine whether or not she finds you attractive or if she can’t feel your personality in those photos within 3 seconds.

The problem is that…

Your pictures suck. Horribly.

Are you listening?


But you don’t really believe me and therefore don’t put enough effort into changing it.

I can say this with such conviction because I’ve been dealing with men for years who talk about the “cesspool” that is online dating.

They complain about endless swiping. They describe the frustration of writing messages that fall on deaf ears. They even ask friends or hire people to re-write their profiles to no improvement.

They say it’s all pointless and online doesn’t work for them. So I ask about their photos and they tell me…

  • “I know they could probably be better but they should be good enough.”
  • “Some of them are pretty old but I’m not photogenic.”
  • “I have a few okay ones but I don’t take a lot of pictures and haven’t had the time to get better ones.”

Then I take a look at their selection. Abysmal. Easily 95/100 guys who come to me have this problem.

A bunch of old, washed out, grainy, low-quality photos. You can’t even see their face in the most important ones like the profile shot. The vast majority are them alone doing nothing, selfies, or just hanging out with some friends in a regular environment. Some guys don’t even have more than 1 or 2 pictures altogether.

Do you really expect women to fall all over you amongst the millions of other men on the same app?

Stop focusing on the wrong things

You’ve got to take your pictures seriously because otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

I was with a friend the other week who swore off Tinder. I told him to show me his profile and I asked him why he thought he wasn’t getting any matches.

He rolled his eyes, “I know, I know. I need better pictures.”

So I grabbed him, took him outside, and took 3 photos with my nice camera. We ended up with an awesome portrait with a natural smile, a picture of him high-fiving my dog, and him popping a wheelie on my bike.  

He uploaded the pictures to Facebook and got more likes than he’s ever received on a post. The next morning he texts me a picture of two beautiful girls he matched with and had already set up dates together.

It took all of 15 minutes to get those photos. I’m pretty sure he’s a believer now.

Until you’re getting a steady stream of women talking to you online, drop everything else and TAKE BETTER PICTURES. Think of it like a sales funnel.

You need a wide opening to start (great pictures) so you can capture a lot of leads. Some of those leads won’t convert, but that’s okay because you have plenty of opportunities. Then you can focus on tightening up your sales process (messaging) and ability to close the deal (setting up a date).

If you have a narrow funnel at the top, you get less leads to work with. You’re constantly frustrated at the lack of return and always uncertain if those few opportunities will turn into anything. It makes the process miserable.

So you play it safe (boring, logical messages) or act desperate (sending multiple unanswered messages) because you’re terrified of losing those rare chances. You don’t let loose (self-amuse, flirt, lead) or show off the most engaging parts of your personality. In turn, your timid approach actually causes you to convert less and compound the emotional pain you feel from online dating.

Stop being the needy salesmen doing everything in his power to close that one deal. You need to create abundance for yourself and make the process so much easier and more enjoyable.

So let’s talk about making that happen.

How to take pictures that attract the women you want

I think a lot of guys don’t invest in their pictures because they think it’s useless. They believe that since they’re not 6’2”, chiseled, with a square jaw — they’re screwed anyway.

That’s just not true. Yes, being a genetically handsome physical specimen helps you get more matches. But that’s only one piece of what women consider “attractive photos”.

It’s just not just about how hot you are but the personality and feeling you convey. These women want to know that meeting up with you is going to be a fun, comfortable experience.

You do that by improving:

  1. How YOU specifically look in those photos. That could be camera quality, lighting, angles, body language, facial expression, hair style, fit and look of clothes, laughter, and overall demeanor. These adjustments and more can make you infinitely more appealing.
  2. How you showcase your lifestyle. Are you social and have friends? Do you like stay fit and healthy? Are you a compassionate animal person? Do you like to be silly or try risky adventures? Do you have cool or unique hobbies? Do you have an interesting talent? Are you creative or artsy (through the use of filters and photography prowess)? Do you travel or embody a higher-end lifestyle?

Both of these points you have complete control over.

Every guy I know who’s invested in these ideas have dramatically increased their matches with women they find attractive. They have more opportunities than they even need.

Below is a list of tested tips to improve your photos and get you on more dates. Every box you can tick will bring you that much closer to success.

  • You need more than 1-2 pictures. 3-6 tends to be a good range.
  • Your profile picture MUST show your face. Women want to know what you look like and the best marketers know people are drawn to faces. That means your pic should be waist-up or neck-up preferably. No selfies, no sunglasses, and no far away shots even if it’s you doing something cool. Put those later.
  • For your profile picture, smile and look into the camera or don’t smile and look away from the camera. These tend to get the best responses.
  • Maximum one selfie, if any.
  • Maximum one photo with sunglasses, if any.
  • Maximum one photo with a girl, if any. A lot of guys use this to say, “Hey, I hang out with women…I’m not a loser.” But it often backfires because women don’t want to envision the guy they’re trying to talk to with another woman. When I test these pictures with girls on different profiles and sites, they always rank poorly.
  • Maximum one or two group photos. Hanging out with friends shows you’re social but the girls want to see YOU — nice and clear. They don’t want to search for your face hidden in a crowd in the distance.
  • Smile don’t smirk. If you’re using a smiling picture, show a bit of your upper teeth. That closed-lip smile makes you look like an awkward child predator. And smile with your eyes, too (read more on duchenne smiling). Otherwise, it just feels fake.
  • Share your hobbies and activities. Use pictures of you hitting the drumset, stand-up paddle boarding, swing dancing, squatting in the rack, playing ultimate frisbee, chilling by a bonfire, reading on the edge of a cliff, traveling, swimming underwater, hiking, crowd surfing, high-fiving a stranger, singing karaoke, dancing at a wedding, whatever. You have to include photos of you doing something other than being stationary, no exceptions. If you don’t have any of these, it’s time to get out there and build an active lifestyle.
  • Show off your body if you got it. You may think a shirtless picture is douchey but women find it sexy in the right context. Flexing in a bathroom mirror is lame. Chopping wood, playing beach volleyball, or doing pullups on an old, wise-looking tree is much better.
  • Have variety. A wide spectrum of settings, photo types, angles, activities, outfits provides more opportunities to engage a girl and showcase interesting sides of yourself. Don’t use multiple shots in the same attire or in the same location. I’d even mix up non-bokeh and bokeh shots (if you have them) so it gives a more candid, authentic feel.
  • Dress well in one photo. This isn’t necessary but it helps to have more than just goofy graphic tees. A man in a well-fitted suit always looks incredible. Or at least use a photo of you with a button shirt, polo, or stylish sweater.
  • Use cute animals to your advantage. Do I really need to explain this one? If you’ve got a pet or have hung out with one (or swam with the dolphins), include one of those pictures. Most women love guys who love animals.
  • Only use high-quality photos. Get a modern smartphone or nice camera. Or like I said earlier, borrow one from a friend. Don’t compress them down to artifacted versions of themselves. Shoot outdoors or in good light if possible.
  • Understand lighting. Proper lighting makes for incredible, crisp photos. Huge shadows on your face can ruin a perfect shot. If you’re shooting outdoors, the best light is the hour around sunrise and the hour around sunset. Of course, that isn’t always possible so as a rule of thumb, make sure you’re facing the light source instead of having it to the side or behind you. Find shade if it’s too bright outside. And if you’re still getting shadows on your face, try using the flash on your camera to fill in dark spots.
  • Take a ridiculous amount of pictures. You ever wonder why so many girls have great photos online? Because they snap pictures of themselves everywhere. I’m not naturally photogenic and I used to hate my photos. The only thing that fixed it was taking ten times as many pictures (like bursts) and then it’s a lot easiest to find that one gem.
  • Get help to take all those photos. Ask your friends to take a picture of you when you’re out together. Hell, ask a stranger. Offer your friend dinner or some beers to help you take a couple of shots. And if you still can’t get anyone else to assist, do it yourself. Stop using the front-facing camera and put your camera on the 10 second self-timer. Place it on something and let it work its magic.
  • Edit relentlessly. Every photographer does post-production on their pictures and you should, too. Crop anything that takes away from yourself or the message you’re trying to convey in the photo. This is especially true with portraits — no one cares about your half eaten sandwich. Up the saturation and contrast so you don’t have dull colors or a flat image. Play with the exposure, highlights, and shadows to get rid of underexposed or overexposed spots. Experiment with black and white or app filters to give one or two of your photos a more stark / artsy feel.
  • Get feedback. Real-world data is your best friend. I don’t care what you think looks cool, I want to know what other people find attractive. Submit your pictures to Photofeeler where women can vote on them. Or post on Reddit Tinder’s weekly profile review thread.
  • Copy and steal from others. “Oh Nick, but I don’t have any cool ideas for photos.” Hmm, if only there was some way you could see what other successful guys were doing…oh duh there is. Create a fake female profile or reference the Reddit Tinder profile review threads and do your research. Look at what guys seem interesting or engaging and mimic their ideas. That could be their angles, background, activities, filters, and just about anything else.

Online dating isn’t the only way to meet people and it should never replace the ability to connect with someone in the real-world. But apps like Tinder have taken over this generation and almost everyone who’s single has at least tried it.

Why would you exclude yourself from that large of a dating pool?

Once you’ve taken care of the front-end work, Tinder can be one of the easiest ways to make some intimate connections in your spare time. And it can be a stepping stone for guys scared of approaching strangers to gain necessary experience and start putting themselves out there.

  1. Aaron on September 1, 2016

    Never heard of the weekly Reddit Tinder reviews. That’s great! I’m going to submit my profile there for the next one. Have you thought of doing something similar and reviewing people’s profiles on the blog?

    • Nick Notas on September 1, 2016

      Yeah, the reviews are really useful and doing my own version has been on my mind for a while now. I’m also considering asking guys to send me their exchanges and I” help break them down on the site.

  2. Carson on September 1, 2016

    I put off changing my photos for a long time until the beginning of the year. Then I bought a Panasonic G7 and fell in love with photography. Tinder has been so easy and I started helping my friends out now. It’s been cool to do Tinder socials with them and go out as a group.

    • Nick Notas on September 1, 2016

      I debated between the Sony A6300 and the G7 for a while. You can’t go wrong with either, they’re both incredible cameras. It truly is a lot easier to get solid photos than most people think.

      I had my first experience with Tinder social last month in Spain. I think it’s a brilliant idea and would recommend everyone to try it out if it’s available in their area.

  3. Leon on September 3, 2016

    I gotta say, thanks a lot Nick. When I discovered this blog I was in a pretty toxic relationship that was coming to a pretty bad end.
    Now three months later I’m happily seeing another person who makes me much happier and I can actually enjoy being around, in no small part to the advice and experiences you share with anyone who happens across here.
    Thanks and please keep doing what you’re doing =)