Wellbeing

A Tinder Profile Photographer’s Advice On How To Nail Your Pic

Ah, Tinder: our screenshots would be so much less rich without you in our lives.

There are the classics: The fishing party. The bathroom selfie. The obligatory suit shot. And of course, that time they were partying on their private yacht.

Then there’s the other-side-of-the-train-tracks of sanity. An overexposed bathtub selfie. A gentleman in a leather mask poses with his head under a toilet lid. A plucky young man dressed as a Mexican duck (complete with sombrero and maracas) with a taco wrapped round him.

We all end up with a catalogue of our favourite images to show to the office on Monday morning, but let’s be honest – they’re probably not the ones we swiped right on.

Sydney-based Photographer Jordan Shields aims to make sure the photos he takes don’t end up part of the screenshot hall of shame.

As a Tinder profile photographer, Jordan puts together photo shoots for Tinder users. He then provides his clients with ready to go ‘casual’ Tinder photos for them to use. But how does it work?

The creative process

“(First) I just like to figure out what they’re like,” he describes. They go for coffee and chat. Next step he’ll set up a shoot that “makes it look like the shot have been taken by a friend that has photography skills”.

Like a photographic (white Australian) version of Will Smith’s ‘Hitch’, Jordan advises his entirely male clientele base on how best to bring out his personality. “I had one client recently, and he’s right into martial arts and he wanted to incorporate that,” he says. “But in my opinion it’s not the best first impression to leave on someone you’re trying to call!”

“’I’ve had a few clients who are really into their fitness they wanted shirt off shots and photo shoots with nice cars… and I’m happy to oblige.”

How did the Tinder shoots start?

Like any good business idea, Tinder profile shooting started out small.

“A friend of mine gave me the idea to begin with” Jordan explains. “I was taking a photo of him – because I take photos of all of my friends – and he suggested I start making them for Tinder. So I just jumped on it!

Having moved from Perth to Sydney since the business started, Jordan has seen work boom in a city known for its sprawl, large population and daily grind.

how to nail your tinder profile photo

Jordan says dogs are always a winner.

“There’s just a different vibe here” Jordan supposes. “Lots of people move here for work, are single, might not have large social circles.”

Tinder’s fast turnover swipe rate means a potential date relies on a glance of a photo – something Jordan relates heavily to advertising but “in this case you’re selling yourself”.

“Literally you are looking at the picture and making a split second decision of am I going to date this person, am I going to get a drink with this person.”

Men need the most help on Tinder

Unsurprisingly Jordan’s Tinder-based clientele is exclusively male – but not by design. Interestingly, women never approach him for photographs. But why?

“Guys don’t tell each other when we look good,” points out Jordan. “We don’t communicate about our looks to each other, but I think women do.”

“Some guys have a $200k car, nice apartment. They’re completely set but because they’re so busy it’s hard for them to be social. So really they’re putting everything into this online dating experience.”

On the basis that users – particularly men – aren’t so crash hot on the whole visual self-advertisement thing, men across Australia have contacted Jordan to take the photos that will get them that golden swipe right.

how to nail your tinder profile photo

“Guys don’t tell each other when we look good,” Jordan says.

But does this means he ever gets slightly dodgy clients that he hasn’t wanted to help get lucky in love? Not really, Jordan says.

“But I do have a few clients that look like they might have been to dating coaches and some dudes do talk about women in a weird kind of way,” he says. “Like they’re not someone they’re friends with. Like they’re some alien creature.”

“What I say to clients is that I can take some nice photos, and I can help you get a date, but what you say on a date is totally outside my jurisdiction.”

What makes a winning Tinder Profile?

So what in Jordan’s experience makes good Tinder photos?

Go For

Smiling: “I’ve heard that smiling, looking at the camera works. I’ve also heard that not smiling and not looking at camera works. But I think when it comes down to it, you just want to be relaxed, with some natural smiles. Maybe not every photo smiling but some natural smiles that are real – smiling with your eyes, you know?”

Good body language: “Take something like a LinkedIn photo: often you’ll make your subject lean into the photo just a bit. It gives the body language that you’re leaning in to listen. So it gives the viewer of the photograph a subconscious feeling that they’re a listener. Tinder is very similar to LinkedIn but it’s in a more casual, less formal setting.”

Big No No’s

how to nail your tinder photo

No cropping your ex out.

No fishing: “I’m sure there are girls out there that love to fish. But they’re not a dime a dozen.”

No photos with your ex: for obvious reasons.

No cuts: “Any photos cropping out other people just looks weird.”

No group shots: “Usually in a group photo the person you’re looking for is always the most unattractive one.”

No babies: “Puppies yes, babies – not so much. Because, whose baby is it? Not to say there’s anything wrong with that. But if you’re out on the single market dating, I don’t think having a baby’s going to work that much, to put it bluntly.”

(Photos of Jordan supplied by Nico Norelli.)


Kate Bettes is a writer and editor from the U.K. who has lived in Sydney for over a decade, but still suffers wracking guilt over switching her breakfast allegiance from Marmite to Vegemite. A lover of travel and street art, Kate’s writing interests lie in talking to anyone, anywhere about what’s important to them.