Mindful Love: 7 Unexpected Lessons I Learned From Being A Tinder Photographer

Updated: Oct 21


Self portrait by Sophia Isabella

This summer marks three years of my work as a dating photographer, helping men get better photos for their online dating profiles by offering them individual photo shoots. I started off this crazy journey after taking pictures of a good friend for his Tinder profile, just after having dived into the field of photography. With these new and improved profile pictures, my friend suddenly saw an immense spike in matches and dates and I realized that such photo shoots might also be beneficial to many other men. Hence, I decided to offer this service to more people and have since photographed hundreds of men in several cities around Europe. I have furthermore assembled a network of talented dating photographers in major cities around the world who have become a vital part of this journey. It is my mission to create attractive photos of everyone and to help my clients feel confident in the online dating game, so as to find the special connections dating apps can offer.

During my work as a dating photographer I have encountered many beautiful moments and I have learned 7 surprising things that I would like to share here, for the first time ever, with you all.

1. People don’t know how attractive they can look

Many people think they’re just not photogenic and that they will never appear handsome on photos, but that is simply not true! I know from experience that everyone can look attractive! From the right angle, and with the right light, I can get the best out of anybody and, so far, every client has agreed with me on this. Countless times I have been able to show people how beautiful they truly are and surprise them with the amazing photos our sessions resulted in. It is such a gift to show someone how beautiful they look, especially when they did not believe such results were possible, and seeing the final pictures puts a huge smile on their face!

2. Men really do not have many pictures of themselves

Wow. They really do not. It’s not that I expected my clients to have a bunch of professional photos of themselves in stack, but it really surprised me to see so many low quality and unattractive pictures on their profiles (It didn’t surprise me that they weren’t getting many matches). Most guys tell me they just don’t like having their picture taken and so the only photos they end up with are either unfavorable selfies, photos with their ex-girlfriends in them, or visual memories of their latest drinking escapade with friends. Women, on the other hand, naturally seem to have a variety of attractive photos of themselves. It is more common for many of us to be out with our girlfriends and take cute photos, either during brunch or when we are all dolled up and going out. This gives women a huge selection of suitable photos to choose from, apart from already having it easier to get matches on dating apps. Time and time again, I have learned the importance of what I do: supporting men in attaining amazing pictures of themselves that represent who they really are, so they can finally chuck out these low-quality profile pics!

3. Men are not just attractive but outright beautiful!

There is something very special about these photo shoots and the energy that arises between the photographer and the client, and these sessions have allowed me to see men in a new light. Although a photo shoot can actually feel like a first date (you meet, go for a walk, get to know each other), the energy is totally different compared the first dates I had myself - back in the day. There is a certain authenticity that I always longed for during my own experiences of online dating. An authenticity that is hard to achieve when you have that added pressure of trying to be one way or another in order to show your best self, when meeting a potential partner in real life. The time spent with single gentlemen during photo shoots is truly energizing, because it has become one of those (way too rare) occasions where a genuine conversation happens and authenticity can thrive.

These photo shoots are not only refreshing for myself but also amazing for the people I photograph. My clients suddenly feel seen again, for the first time in a long while, because getting someone's undivided attention has become such a rare occurrence in this frantic world we live in. This leads to them beaming with positive energy by the end of their shoot. Getting your photos taken, especially when it is for a dating app, requires a certain vulnerability and willingness to let yourself be seen. Witnessing this vulnerability in my clients has been a very beautiful experience, because vulnerability is what leads to connections and whether you are looking for your SO or just a ONS - when it comes down to it, we are all just longing for that special connection with another human being.

4. Men actually enjoy having their photos taken, even if many are nervous at the beginning

Many of my clients are very nervous before the photo shoot. One guy even told me he was considering cancelling the day before, due to getting anxious about it all. He told me this towards the end of our photo shoot, laughing about how silly that would have been, because he was so surprised about how much fun he ended up having. And this scenario is what happens during most of the photo shoots. Yes, it might take a few test shots and a little warming up, but even the shyest guys get used to being photographed and have a big smile on their face by the end of their session.

5. Online dating should not be your only channel

I am not going to lie, it’s tough out there in the dating world. And online dating is no different. It is a very useful channel for many people and I have numerous friends who met their SO on Tinder, Bumble and Co. But: you never know what you’ll get. Meaning that while some people instantly find what they are looking for on their first online date, others still haven’t encountered anything close to what they want, even after many tries. Consequently, many people become frustrated and disappointed after a while. That’s why, apart from using online dating apps, it is always advisable to also put your feelers out in the real world, to keep expanding your circle and cultivating your interests. Especially taking up a new hobby is advisable, as it’s like catching two birds with one stone: You not only increase your opportunities of meeting someone who shares your interests, but you also make yourself more interesting to talk to when going on dates with new potential partners.

Secret tip from Sophia: As a curious soul, I have tried many different disciplines and have encountered several communities. As a performing arts enthusiast these were especially theatre related. And let me tell you, never have I ever met a nicer group than the theatre or improv community. So many open-minded and fun-loving individuals gathered together, to play, to create, and to have after-play drinks, which may or may not end up in some canoodling... I got to know quite a few couples that met through these groups and have always considered it a secret place for meeting potential partners. This is obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but if you would ever consider joining theatre or improv, I would highly recommend trying it out. Especially the improv community is easy to join without any prior experience! If you are in Berlin, a good starting point is the Comedy Café that offers classes. If you happen to be in Barcelona, check out Watch this Space or the Barcelona Improv Community and say hi to my long-lost friends while you are there ;)

6. Online dating is whatever you want it to be

I have met all kinds of people that use dating apps for all kinds of purposes: one guy I know uses Tinder solely for making friends, simply because it’s a great way to expand his social circle. Another guy was doing what I call “extreme dating”, going on a different date every night. Since that quickly started getting boring, he started to take his first dates to unique locations, like the Berlin sex club KitKat. When he told the latest woman he was writing with on Tinder about this typical first date location of his, she demanded their first date to be even more unique than the ones he had organized before. This request resulted in the most adventurous first date I’ve ever heard of: they met at the Berlin airport and traveled to Budapest for the weekend. (For those curious to know how the trip turned out: They had a good time, but they did not hit it off on a romantic level.)

So there you have it, online dating can be whatever you want it to be, just get creative and put yourself out there!

7. What makes a successful photo shoot is the positive and fun attitude

Recently I had a consultation call with a client and he asked me about the most important factors necessary so as to achieve a photo shoot which results in the best possible photos. I had to sit and think about that question for a moment, reminiscing about the most successful shoots I’ve experienced in my job and thinking about the factors which made them particularly successful. At first, some nice outfits my clients had worn came to mind. But then I realized that the attire did not necessarily contribute to an ideal photo shooting. All in all, I concluded, it is definitely the positive and fun attitude during a session that makes the final photos turn out amazing!

The most surprising shoot I ever had was with a guy who looked far from great on his current Tinder profile - he had sent it to me before the photo shoot. So I assumed this job would be a tough one. But the client arrived and his calm, positive and flexible manner made the shoot an absolute breeze. He easily took on the positions I suggested and he had such a fun attitude that we got a big variety of photos in different poses and locations. The photos turned out great! Not only was his jaw line absolutely gorgeous (something he would have never realized by himself) but he had also gotten his unibrow plucked and looked like a completely different person - compared to his former Tinder pics. - Yes, I had encouraged him to get his brows straightened out and it made him look 100 times better. I really appreciate people’s honesty towards me and, consequently, I’m a big fan of being honest to my clients. If I notice unfavorable physical traits that can be taken care of easily, such as plucking a unibrow, I will definitely suggest it. All my advice comes with love and it’s all in the name of helping people in making the most out of their online dating profiles so as to find the connections they deserve! <3

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It has been an absolute pleasure capturing you beautiful bastards and helping you find sparks of connection in times of isolation, and I’m looking forward to more of this crazy journey.

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