A briefcase with Cards Against Humanity, two iPads, several chargers, a deck of cards, a notepad and pen, and some business cards.

My online dating photo toolkit

Hey y’all! If you’re subscribed to my free monthly advice newsletter, then you probably saw that our photo hour is today and we still have a couple spots left. Please get in touch ASAP if you’d like to claim a seat!

Since we’re planning on doing more of these events in more cities (stay tuned!), I wanted to show you guys a little more detail about what goes into them. After all, they’re not just traditional photo shoots—the magic happens because I get really involved in distracting attendees and loosening them up so they aren’t all tense about the fact that my photographer Jennifer is snapping pictures of them. The results are so much more natural and relaxed!

Here is my toolkit of fun, geeky, goofy activities to help everyone look their best:

A briefcase with Cards Against Humanity, two iPads, several chargers, a deck of cards, a notepad and pen, and some business cards.

We’ve got Grant’s iPad 3 on loan to play Fingle; my retina iPad Mini to play Spaceteam along with my iPhone (not pictured as it’s the camera); several chargers, including a longer length Lightning cable for awkwardly placed outlets, a higher-powered AC adapter for speedy boosts, and a Mini USB in case an attendee needs to charge an Android phone; Cards Against Humanity (somewhere I have the expansion pack but I don’t think I need to bother with it today); a deck of regular cards (with a cool 8-bit design), a notebook and pen in case anyone hits it off and wants to swap numbers (among attendees or other patrons at our chosen venue); and business cards in case any nearby folks get curious about what we’re up to. And yes, that’s a vintage Coach briefcase I’m packing everything in—might as well lug my geek gear in style, right? 🙂

And of course, my purse contains a Square in case anyone wants to book a deeper dating session on the spot, plus cash for tipping the staff and make-up and a hairbrush to make sure we all look sleek. (Check out my online dating photo guide if you really wanna dive deep on all the things you can do to look good.)

Enough about the contents of my purse. Let’s talk more about those games!

Fingle (and Bounden)

Fingle is SUCH a blast. You should watch this video with sound on if you can; their porn-y soundtrack cracks me up and totally ups the intimacy gag of this game. It really is a great way for people to break the ice and get more comfortable, *especially* if two given attendees might have some kind of budding spark!

And hey, check out this other game called Bounden! It’s also from Game Oven, the folks behind Fingle. I believe it was developed in partnership with the Dutch Royal Ballet, and it’s basically a dance game but not like some douchey Kinect thing you played a demo of at PAX. This is interactive in a totally different way. Check it out to see what I mean:

The whole video is amusing if you’ve got some time on your hands, but it really gets going around the 5:00 mark if you’re in a rush. (The footage was from an early build, but it’s actually released now.) I don’t think this game will be as useful for capturing actual photos usable in dating profiles, but it sure does look like a good icebreaker! I downloaded it just in case anyone wants to get bold today and dance with me. 🙂


Spaceteam might be my favorite iOS game of all time. I couldn’t find video of people I know playing it, but basically, you boisterously yell at each other and it totally forces you to loosen up let your guard down. Which is exactly the goal in my online dating photo shoots!

If you’re interested in other cool Spaceteam usages, check out this retrospective post from the developer Henry Smith. And please, go back his relaunched Kickstarter so he can keep making awesome games! I just did.

Cards Against Humanity

Oh, Cards Against Humanity. Most people know what they need to about this game already since it’s so dang popular. But I have to call it out anyway, since it’s the tool we use most heavily to loosen people up while allowing them to still potentially face the camera instead of looking down at a tablet and furiously swiping or yelling, haha. CAH is our bread and butter when it comes to photo-friendly geeky icebreakers; thanks Max and co for helping me help people look awesome and find love!

More about the photos you’ll get

I don’t tend to post tons of pictures from my photo events, because I like allowing my clients a little privacy. Some people are still cagey about admitting publicly that they use online dating, others are cagey about working with an online dating coach like me, and still others are just cagey about having their pictures on the internet in general. I totally get all that! Back when I met Grant, I used Craiglist and we swapped pictures over email like octogenarians. But you can see a couple cute pics in this post, and you’re welcome to reach out directly if you’d like to see more examples.

We tend to get several options for attendees—on the order of between 10 and 20, although I’ll usually hand-pick about five that I recommend for use as a primary profile picture. These events tend to be best for stuff that focuses more on your face, but with Bounden and some creative movement, we just might finagle a few full-body shots too, since that’s a request we’ve had from past events.

The pics you get are great for dating profiles, of course, but they’re also good for professional purposes (like LinkedIn or company directories), as well as general social media and marketing. We live in a world that wants images of us way more often than even a few years ago, and it’s nice to have flattering, natural, fun shots so you can mix it up across profiles instead of using the same image everywhere. (By the way, that was the topic of my last newsletter. Bummed you missed out on the free advice? Sign up and you can still get it; just follow the prompts!)

There you have it, kids. Got a suggestion for my Sack o’ Nerdery? Let me know! Or better yet, come to the next event so you can playtest it IRL! [icon-heart]

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