Your Tinder photos are your first line of offense when marketing yourself for an online hookup (or “something serious,” I suppose). One must carefully curate each and every one of these images to give potential mates a concept of who you are as a human being, and undoubtedly some of us are better at this than others. As a result, the photos you’ll come across on the app are vast and varied—although you do run into many hitting the same themes.
So, we broke down some of the most common photographic genres you’ll see while trying to meet special someones online. Good luck out there.
If you’re located near a large body of water and perusing your local Tinder offerings, you’ll find photos of this variety. Usually it’s a dude holding up a very large catch, like he is trying to signal that he’d be a good provider for you and your future children. Or, maybe he’s just trying to express his love of outdoor recreational activities and we’re just reading too deeply into this.
Actually quite helpful if used sparingly to let you know whether or not someone has a sense of humour, is a fascist, etc.
Whether it’s a luxury car or a condo, rich people love to post these as a substitute for an actual personality. It should give you an indication of their annual salary, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into or whatever. Just do some fact-checking to be sure this person is not pulling a Bow Wow.
This person wants to show you all the spontaneous fun you’ll have taking Ubers to various exclusive events. What they’re actually telling you is they’re in that semi-destructive phase of their life, which can last an undetermined number of years and can include blackouts, an inability to make plans more than a day in advance, needy late-night texts, and puking in said Ubers. If this is not for you, it’s probably best to move along no matter how hot they are.
This may simply be a lure, but it’s also totally possible that really cute corgi is theirs and you’ll get to see it if you go on a date. Most likely this person is a member of the Dogspotting group and refers to all canines as “doggos.”
Cat/Sedated Tiger Photo
Indicates that they’re a cat person or that they’re one of these people.
Fuck. She’s on here? Goddamn. So soon? Well, I guess I am too. Jesus, what’s wrong with us? We were so in love. I remember telling her she was the love of my life like four months ago at her parents’ summer home in Parry Sound. We made love in the backyard on her childhood swing set that night. Jeez. What am I doing on this app? Hell, what am I doing with my life? I miss her so much. Do I super like her? Nah, that’d be weird. I should swipe right though. Maybe she’s already swiped right—maybe we’ll match and get back together! Yeah! This has all just been a blip! We’ll be back together in no time! *swipes right* She didn’t swipe right…
I’m not going to diss this because I’ll probably get attacked online if I do. Bonus points if of the “exotic” game hunting variety.
Holding a Baby or Small Child
Is this your baby? A child you’re related to? A sign of a babysitting gig? An excuse to write “baby not mine” in your profile? There’s some implications to be addressed here.
The Work Photo
The only time that most people ever get access to a professional photographer is when they have a headshot taken for LinkedIn, so you’re going to be seeing this. In it, the person will be like half-smiling and their eyes will be dead. Subtext: They have a job!
The Picture You Took of Your Ex
At first, you don’t recognize the person but you recognize the background, so you stop to inspect. It’s that park where you used to watch Callie play ultimate. Oh, look, there’s a person jumping impressively into the air, arm taut, a hand reaching out for the glory of the catch. There’s long brown hair, floating, forever frozen in time. A sick feeling of recognition starts to wash over you, your stomach is sick and it’s all in your head— I took this fucking photo of Callie. You close the app in horror and think, How did it end up like this?
The Picture Your Ex Took of You
If they ever see this they are going to be sooooooooooooooooo pissed. (See above.)
Key components include a glass of wine, a sly smile, and a platter of perfectly plated oysters. Once swiping right, you end up on a date at your city's most Instagram-ed restaurants, where you spend six minutes suspended in embarrassment and horror as he takes photos of your food.
The Musician Pic
They’re a DJ/guitarist/experimental producer AND they want you to know about it. Unintended effect: serves as a reliable filter for those of us who are doing our best to avoid dating DJs ever again.
The Picture That Is Just a Screenshot of a Poem or Song Lyrics
Abort mission, friend. This person wants you to know they’re deep. Reality: They’re annoying.
Potential glucose guardians tend to have a surplus of these. Otherwise, these tend to be a woman flexing that she went to Paris that one time, a dude sitting on a beach drinking a daiquiri on spring break, or an actually pretty impressive shot of someone who has their life together hiking in the Andes. Choose carefully, for each sub-genre of vacay photos has implications.
Guy Posing with Hella Guns
Primarily found in the US. Decidedly different from “hunting pics” and potentially terrifying, depending on your views on the Second Amendment.
The Influencer Shot
What they're trying to tell you: how cool they are. What they're actually telling you: they’ll spend half the date checking social media.
An Older Gentleman Who Has Taken His First Selfie
How does this shit work? Fuck, I think I hit this button here. Nope. GOD FUCKING DAMNIT. OK… OK I got this. I hit this one here. FUCK, WHY DID THE FLASH GO OFF?!!? This never would have happened if Barb didn’t leave you, John. Goddamnit brain, we have a job to do stop thinking about Barb and let’s take this photo so we can get on that horny app our nephew told us about. OK… OK, I think I know how to do it. Here we go. HELL YEAH, there we go. Looking good, John, all the ladies are going to love you. You know what they say about them liking men with experience, right?!?! WELL… WELL ALL OF THEM EXCEPT BARB WHO WANTED A “YOUNGER” FUCKING MAN. I miss her so much.
Photo of a Pizza
The bio beckons you to swipe right.
This is My Only Picture Picture
What are you hiding? You mystery wrapped in an enigma, you. Why only upload one pic? And no bio either? Bold. Am I attracted to this confidence? Or am I repelled by the possibility that you’re either a catfish or bot? *Swipes right* THE DIE HAS BEEN CAST!
This person might be trying to tell you they’re a dealer.
The Wedding Photo
We all look fucking good at weddings. I don’t care if you’re the ugliest damn person in the world, you look smashing at a wedding. So, of course we’re going to use some photos of us as a bridesmaid or a groomsmen or whatever. However, buried deep in the heart of Tinder—deeper than any of us should ever go—exists the rare but interesting creature that uses a photo from their own wedding day… You may examine this beast, but think carefully before swiping right.
Might have been taken with a potato. It’s 2018, and this person still can’t muster a proper shot of this variety, so take that how you will. Probably barely use social media, so they might actually be pretty chill. Maybe you should give them a chance.
Standard Instagram Booty Pic
She probably is really into doing squat challenges and her DMs are a disaster. Another possibility: This may be a bot.
The “I Do Standup” Picture
You’re not a real comedian if you have one of these. You’re just a shit-head Humber grad waiting for Netflix to hit you up. Can I get more breadsticks please?
Enlightened Signaling Image
May or may not include yoga. They’ve been to India and will definitely have a number of photos indicating so on their profile. May or may not be Justin Trudeau. If you swipe right, prepare for the possibility of going to Burning Man this year.
When presented without any other photos, someone is probably cheating on his wife and, if he super-liked you, wants to do it with you right now. “Discreet hookups only,” he writes in his bio.
Someone on a Unicycle, Juggling, or Showing Off Other Rare Talent
This person is an asshole. But, they may be good at sex.
There are still people who do this?
The Photo Series
Nothing’s better than a profile that tells a story. I once encountered a profile where the six pictures recounted one woman’s quest to make Kraft Dinner. I mean come on—that’s comedy. The photo series also serves as a natural conversation starter, making it doubly effective.
Likely have one of those fitness Instagrams full of posts with too many hashtags punctuated with photos of salads and smoothies (#cleaneating).
Intended effect: They want you to know how cool they were when they were younger. Actual effect: They reveal how boring they’ve gotten since they hit their 30s.
“Looking for a third."
Sexy Cosplay Pic
You’re super hot but you’re dressed as Spike from Cowboy Bebop. I have the weirdest boner right now.
‘I Accomplished Something’ Photo
This person is trying to tell you they have their shit together, though it’s possible this is a thinly veiled illusion that you’ll find out all too late. Varieties include: graduation, award wins, and some hybrids that fall in the “flex shots” category.
The Uniform Pic
This person is a cop. No, seriously, they’re actually a cop and they’re on Tinder in their uniform. What in the ever-loving fuck?
The Snapchat Filter
Most of us can agree the best part about Snapchat is/was its filters. Seeing all filtered selfies on a Tinder profile is a warning sign on multiple levels. Left, my dear, left.
The ‘Look I Play A Sport’ Photo
Usually these signal that someone is in good shape and/or that they’re in one of those adult sports leagues. But if this photo is from years ago, it’s possible this person is clinging onto glory of the past, which you may or may not be into.
The ‘Look I Definitely Have Friends’ Group Photo
They totally have friends and don’t care how confusing and inefficient it can be to show you this.
Tacky, but probably better than non-consensually putting your friends’ faces on Tinder.
Confusing Group Shot, Family Edition
They want you to know they’re a family person. Instead, like most groups shots, mass confusion ensues. Which one of these people is you? Is that your dad? Did any of these people consent to being on your Tinder profile?
The Really Well-Shot, Cute Picture That Works Perfectly
This is it. This is the one you’ve been waiting for. After slogging through a seemingly endless collection of duckfaces, gym selfies, and Where’s Waldo-esque group shots, you’ve finally encountered the profile of a charming, attractive, fucking normal human being. The quality of the picture is good, but not DSLR good—that’s a healthy sign. It means they’re not a model or YouTuber, people who are categorically uncool. The photo is genuinely candid, not faux candid—that’s important. Anyway, they’re cute as hell. You should swipe right.
With files from VICE Staff.