So here are a few of my least favorite profile photo "sins" and explanation of why they send the wrong message.
Sin: You only have one photo
What you think it says about you: This is what I look like.
What it really says about you: I'm catfishing you!
Having only one photo is suspicious. In this technological day and age of digital cameras, smartphone cameras, scanners, and social media... there is no reason why anyone wouldn't have more than one photo of themselves. Are you bad looking and this is the one airbrushed perfect photo you have or are you using a stock photo you found on the Internet to pretend you're someone you're not? You're either totally technologically inept or you're hiding something.
Sin: Multiple photos, but you look completely different in each one
What you think it says about you: I'm versatile. I look great with lots of different styles.
What it really says about you: I'm hoping you will find at least one of these photos attractive, even if I don't look like that anymore.
Funny thing about online dating: most of the time, we'd actually like to know what you look like. It's one thing to put it all out there (this is me with facial hair, this is me without facial hair) but it's quite another to use photos of you from another decade. If your pics span more than seven years, 100 pounds or 90,000 strands of hair then it's false advertising. I don't care about the evolution. Which one is the real you?
Sin: A group shot
What you think it says about you: I'm fun! I'm popular! I have lots of friends!
What it really says about you: I am the least attractive member of my friend group.
Don't make us play "Where's Waldo?" with your photo, especially if you even remotely resemble any of your friends and especially if there's a chance that we're going to be disappointed when we figure out which one is actually you.
Sin: A photo of you with someone else's child
What you think it says about you: I'm great with kids! Kids love me and I love them!
What it really says about you: I have no respect for this child's privacy or safety.
It's the Internet. Please don't post public photos of other people's minor children where anyone can see it (especially when you're also giving out your location and other personal information). It's great that you love your godkids, but their parents probably love them too and don't want you exploiting them so you can meet chicks online.
Sin: A photo of you with another woman
What you think it says about you: I'm desirable.
What it really says about you: I want to make you jealous already. And I don't know how to use Photoshop.
How does this woman feel about being used as a pawn in your dating profile? A photo like this will do nothing to help your chances. If she's a family member, her hotness has no bearing on how desirable you are to us. If she's an ex, some women might be worried that you're still hung up on her. If she's just a friend, some women might possibly wonder why you're not dating that friend in the first place. Just crop her out.
Sin: A photo of you with someone else whose face has been blacked out.
What you think it says about you: I'm popular and desirable, but I respect my friends' privacy.
What it really says about you: I know how to use Photoshop, but I still wanted you to know someone else is in this photo with me.
Why? What is the point? If you have the capabilities to block out their face, just block out their entire body.
Sin: A shirtless cell phone shot in the bathroom mirror
What you think it says about you: I have a hot body.
What it really says about you: I'm a douche bag. And I really need to clean my bathroom.
Sin: A clothed cell phone shot in the bathroom mirror
What you think it says about you: I'm not a douche bag, because I'm wearing a shirt.
What it really says about you: There is no one in my life who I could ask to take a photo of me. (And I still need to clean my bathroom.)
Having one selfie isn't a big deal, but if your profile photos are all selfies that's going to concern us. Do you not have a single friend with a camera? Have you never been to a party?
Sin: A long-distance shot of you on a cliff or in front of some exotic landmark.
What you think it says about you: I'm adventurous and/or athletic.
What it really says about you: I'm a show-off... and possibly ugly.
Sure it might make you look good that you enjoy adventurous or athletic endeavors like hiking, rock climbing, etc... And it may very well be enticing to some women to think about how well-traveled you are, because maybe you'll take us on some of those trips once we start dating. However, in many cases it just comes off as bragging. Especially if we can't even see what you look like in the photo. If this is your only photo, then we're going to assume you're adventurous and unattractive.
Sin: A cropped photo of just your eyes
What you think it says about you: I'm mysterious.
What it really says about you: I have a wife or girlfriend.
Sin: A close-up underwear shot
What you think it says about you: I have a huge penis.
What it really says about you: I have an average size penis.
Note: I'd imagine that almost all of these tips apply to women as well. Also, this list is heteronormative for the most part, because that's the kind of online dating I'm doing at the moment.