Picture Perfect: Picking the best photo for your online dating profile

It’s the night before V-Day / You don’t have a date / Just Netflix and pizza with / Your lazy roommate

Picture Perfect: Picking the best photo for your online dating profile

Callie Sacarelos

If you’re one of those people who places any kind of value or significance on the Hallmark holiday and will feel #foreveralone if you spend it without a boo by your side, fret not. There are plenty of dating apps and websites out there that find the peanut butter to your jelly and mac to your cheese in a matter of minutes.

Aside from the quick, easy and obvious options such as Tinder, Grindr and OKCupid, there are a growing number of sites that cater to rather unique interests. Ugly Schmucks is for people who consider themselves ugly or for people who dig ugly people. On the other hand, Darwin Dating is supposedly for “beautiful people only.”

There’s also sites for cat lovers, horseback riders, people with food allergies or STDs (separate sites, although some cross-analyzing could lead to your perfect match), clowns, the Amish, vampires and people who like to get down in diapers. Search for any word or phrase followed by “dating site,” and it probably exists.

Your main concern at this point is the race against time. Valentine’s Day is Friday, and you need to find someone who is in the same position as you: ready, willing and able.

Although it may seem like everyone you know is in a relationship, the odds are actually in your favor. Ty Tashiro, author of “The Science of Happily Ever After” and a relationship expert at the Discovery Network’s Fit and Health Channel, said there are more single people by percentage than ever before.

“Being single is easier now than it was in previous generations because you can get gratification from your job and your friends,” Tashiro said. “The incentive to get married is less because the alternative looks so much more attractive than it used to.”

According to common sense, along with OKCupid’s user data and a study by dating site Zoosk of more than 4,000 online daters, profile pictures play a huge role in getting a response from other users.

In the interest of time, focus on getting a few good photos up that follow these guidelines, and craft your personal essay later (but keep it short).

Zoosk found that women get 60 percent more attention if their photo shows them indoors, whereas men get 19 percent more attention if they’re shown outside.

“It’s really kind of old school,” Tashiro said. “As a researcher, you’re almost tentative to report that stuff because it makes you sound sexist.”

The study also finds that full-body shots are good for both sexes but only women should post selfies.

“My hypothesis is that it is seen as vanity or narcissism for men,” Tashiro said.

OKCupid data supports this idea, showing that the classic “MySpace shot” — holding the camera above head level and looking seductively into the lens — is highly effective for women. And everyone should show a little chest, according to OKCupid. And show your face. Seems obvious, but a lot of people try to remain anonymous.

Include a photo of yourself doing an interesting activity. It gives the other person something to comment on. Don’t post a lot of group shots; this isn’t Facebook. You want people to date you, not your friends. If there are any children in your photos, make sure to specify who their parents are.

If these tips lead to a date that doesn’t go very well, don’t sell yourself or the idea of online dating short.

“For someone who’s in college, dating is a bit of trial and error. People want relationships to be perfect so quickly, but dating is messy,” Tashiro said. “It doesn’t mean that people should be OK with being treated poorly. It’s about learning what you like and don’t like.”

There are plenty of other options available at the click of a mouse or the swipe of your thumb, and now is the perfect time to keep exploring.

“It’s disheartening when you have a friend who’s awesome and they date somebody who’s not in their same league of awesomeness,” Tashiro said. “If you’re with a placeholder, you’re not learning anything. People like someone to spoon with, have breakfast with or whatever. It can be very comfortable. But it’s a waste of time. It’s one of the silent costs that people don’t recognize in their early 20s. Those are great years to figure out what you want.”