I was attending a networking event one day and came across the business card of a local Garrett Park, MD matchmaker – Leora Hoffman of Love by Leora, LLC - and of course, as a professional dating profile photographer, I wanted to check her out. I went back to our Maryland photography studio and headed online to visit her website. The website looked great, and a few weeks later, Leora and I were sitting across each other at the Rockville Starbucks chatting about the dating industry, her matchmaking business, and my dating images services.
Leora has been working as a matchmaker for 30 years. That’s a lot of years of experience in helping people find love! I was intrigued by some of the things she told me about how she uses professional dating images to help find her clients just the right prospective matches, and so I asked her if she would share some of her thoughts about this with my readers. Enjoy!
-- Irene Abdou, DC Dating Profile Photographer
Above: Lifestyle images tell viewers about your hobbies and activites you're passionate about, helping to attract people who share common interests. Dating images by Irene Abdou.
Times have changed, and with the advent of technology, so has my outlook on the importance of dating photography. In fact, today, the right dating images are critical to my work as a matchmaker.
When I began my matchmaking practice over thirty years ago before the emergence of the internet and online dating, most of my referrals were made without using any photographs, much less professional dating images. When matching people, I would provide them with information consisting of age, profession, marital status (single, divorced or widowed), status regarding children, religious and political orientation, interests and hobbies, along with personal goals (dating, co-habitation or marriage).
Occasionally, members would send me actual photos in the mail, which I would copy and utilize, if necessary. Those clients did not want to ‘leave it to chance’ to determine whether they might be attracted to someone based on my personal assessment alone.
However, most of the time, I would simply describe my clients to one another in specific detail (height, body type, hair and eye color, personal style) which was sufficient at that time. Because I was very specific and honest about how I described my clients, there were no surprises.
With the advent of online dating sites, that all changed. Clients were no longer willing to simply take my word for people’s appearance, and began to demand seeing photos before they would agree to meet someone. I understood that I was competing with dating sites and therefore adjusted my practice accordingly.
There are still some matchmakers who refuse to work with dating images, asserting that photos can be misleading, and that chemistry is something that can only be determined by actual face to face meetings. I disagree. I utilize dating images as an initial screening mechanism, which serves to effectively disqualify any prospects who are not my client’s physical type right off the bat. This saves us both time and energy, and provides each party being introduced with a sense of the person that no verbal description alone can accomplish.
Above: Photos by Dating Profile Photographer, Irene Abdou
I’ve learned that clients, especially men, are very visual, and therefore need to be shown an image that attracts them, or they will likely decline a referral. I therefore always advise people to make sure that they use photos which present them in the best possible light, even if they themselves are not all that visually oriented, since the other party will likely care, even if they don’t. Also, having great images of oneself promotes self-esteem, and can be used professionally, on social media, or simply to be shared with family and friends.
In fact, one of my clients posted a recent photo which was taken by a professional dating profile photographer on Facebook, which her former boyfriend from college saw and contacted her out of the blue, to say how great she looked and how nice it would be to reconnect. She was stunned and delighted to hear from him, and after determining that they are now both single again after their respective divorces, are now making plans to meet after decades without any communication at all between them. My client is excited to see him again.
Given that they live in different cities, she is trying to keep an open mind about getting involved in a long distance relationship. My advice to her was to ‘take it one step at a time’ and to meet him and spend some meaningful time together before worrying about what the future might bring.
Critical to the matchmaking process is the utilization of current, quality dating images that are a fair and accurate representation of the person they are about to meet. We are all familiar with the pitfalls of online sites, where egregiously out of date and inaccurate dating images are utilized to ‘lure’ people to want to meet them, only to find that they couldn’t even recognize the person who showed up for the date.
No one is thrilled with the idea of having their pictures taken. It makes us all self-conscious and hyper critical of our flaws, yet, this is an important step towards attracting a potential partner, as uncomfortable as it might feel. Diane, a very beautiful client of mine in her mid fifties, hired me to find her a special man. When she showed me the photos of herself that she wanted me to use, I did not feel they did her justice, as they were casual photos taken on a vacation and presented her wearing sunglasses, in baggy clothing and with lighting that didn’t flatter her skin tone.
Above: Dating images by Irene Abdou Photography
I referred her to a professional dating profile photographer, who took still and active dating images of her, both in the photography studio and outside, which clearly showcased her face, her athletic figure (she was advised to wear form fitting clothing in solid colors), and provided the most flattering lighting, both in studio and outside.
After her dating images shoot, she told me that she felt ‘as if she had just been to the dentist for a root canal.’ I laughed and empathized with the awkwardness she felt, but reassured her that when she saw the final product, she would likely feel that it had been worthwhile. She was indeed pleased with the dating images, which I used to recruit a very handsome sixty one year old attorney, who was super selective himself.
On their first date, after warming up to one another, she showed him the photos from her phone that she originally gave me. He looked at them and said that he would have never agreed to meet her, based on those photos alone. Two years later, they are now madly in love and on the verge of getting engaged.
For that reason, I rely on professional dating profile photographers to effectively capture not only a physical image, but also the essence and personality of each client, which casual photos often do not achieve. Clients often provide me with unflattering dating images, which fail to ‘market’ themselves effectively to potential prospects. Some other examples of that are blurred photos, ones taken at a poor angle, or ones which are backlit and therefore faded.
Above: Images by Irene Abdou, Professional Dating Profile Photographer
I will therefore recommend that such photos be redone by a trusted professional photographer with an expertise in dating images, and the experience to know how to present people attractively and as they truly appear, rather than how they aspire to appear.
My policy is to present each prospect with dating images that include at a minimum a headshot and a full body image, so that each client’s physical features are presented to the other. This helps to mitigate the natural stress involved in meeting someone for the first time, and increases the odds for a more positive and healthy interaction.
Just remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Don’t let your dating images say thousands of the wrong ones!
-- Leora Hoffman, Love by Leora, LLC