It seems like you’ve got enough stuff to worry about on online dating sites. You thought you had it all set up. Your profile’s all filled out, talking about your hobbies and interests, your job, your studies, your travels and future ambitions. Ladies love to read about all that, right? So why aren’t any of them responding to your messages?

Hate to break it to you, but it could be because your profile picture is making you look like a serial killer.

Where’s Your Head?

Some shirtless bathroom photo of you with your head chopped off by the camera makes you look like a douche. Profile photos of you hiding behind a book or a hat, or photos that aren’t even you, won’t attract any ladies. She’s not going to decide to date you, no matter how cute that pic of your dog is. If you’re not confident enough in your appearance to show it won’t do much for her confidence that you’re not some sort of goat-eating bridge troll. Confidence is an attractive trait in anyone. A picture that’s actually showing your face will do more good than having a photo of you hiding behind some dusty hat you dug out of your closet.

For God’s Sake, Smile

It’s possible to take a visually-appealing photo where you haven’t got a smile on your face. But a blurry webcam or phone pic of you staring stony-faced straight-on into the camera is not how you do it. While you can make it work if you’ve got some photography experience and the right composition, it’s easier to just smile in your photos. Scowling or staring blankly ahead doesn’t make you look mysterious or cool, it just makes it look like you’re unapproachable. That’s not what you want when you’re competing with hundreds of other dudes on dating sites.

Also note that just showing your teeth is not a smile. You can tell a real smile by watching someone’s eyes. If the eyes aren’t smiling as well, your smile looks fake at best and creepy at worst.

So How Do I Take a Good Shot?

Take note from all those selfies you see people plastering all over Facebook. Don’t stare straight-on into the camera, instead, turn your face slightly to the left or right. For most people, this results in a much more flattering angle for their face. Pull the camera back so it captures at least to your shoulders. Super close-up shots are not flattering for most, and tend to come across as threatening.

Smile genuinely (with your mouth and eyes, as mentioned above). Don’t have a light directly behind you, as that will result in a weird backlit effect. It won’t make you look godlike or angelic, it will make your features impossible to make out in the shot. While you want the light source to be on your face, don’t make it too close to you, otherwise you’ll be washed out and look like you’ve got some sort of disease.

This is all basic photography advice, and can give good results even by a beginner with the most basic of cameras. A good photo is one of the best things a dating profile can have, and is the first step in making you stand out in the crowd.