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Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 12:17 am

Pic me

Amy Alkon
I’m a newly divorced woman trying some online dating sites. Because I read your column, I understand how men prioritize beauty. I’m an attractive woman but I often photograph terribly, and I’m thinking of spending some money and having a professional photographer shoot some pix in a studio. Would this be a good investment? I feel like I’d have a better shot if I had really great photos. – Unphotogenic

Being somewhat vain, I fear the candid camera. In fact, I not only favor the posed photo but tend to stick (rather aggressively) to a single pose – the one that doesn’t make people wonder whether I eat oats out of a burlap bag.

On online dating sites especially, appearance drives whom we choose or lose. Not surprisingly, marketing researcher Jonah Berger reports that “most online contexts,” including dating sites, “are dominated by posed photos,” as opposed to the candid kind – to the point where the main leisure activity in North America appears to be standing in a bathroom making duck lips for the camera.

Berger notes that people tend to assume that others will find them more likable and worth getting to know if they present “a curated, polished version of the self.” Yet in his research, it was the candid pix that made people more interested in “being friends with or going on a date” with the person pictured. Those he surveyed also reported feeling “more connected” to those in the candid photos and liking these people more overall.

“Candid photos made photo targets seem more genuine,” Berger explains. They “seem to provide a glimpse into what someone is truly like, an unvarnished perspective on how they look and behave when others aren’t looking.” However, there are times when candids are less advisable. For example, Berger found that employers on LinkedIn were more interested in hiring someone who used a posed photo. Sadly, it seems the candid “Here I am at 1 in the morning drinking my sixth glass of chardonnay” does not scream, “Hire me!”

But getting back to online dating, let’s temper Berger’s findings with what we all know: The hotter you look, the more replies you’ll get on a dating site. So, because you’re somebody who often photographs “terribly,” your best bet is getting photos taken that appear to be candid. You do this by having a photographer or friend shoot you “in action” – in other words, appearing not to notice the big honking lens or the iPhone right in your face. Plan to shoot a ton of photos and at least a few will catch you looking babe-alicious. This should help you bridge the photogenic fairness gap – how there are those the candid camera loves and those it loves to make look like ringers for Winston Churchill.

© 2017, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail ( Weekly radio show:

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