At this point, i’ve done well and truly over a 100 online dating photoshoots. Something that has continued to baffle me is how many of my clients have not been that conventionally good-looking, tall, etc. but have absolutely killed it! Yet, men with near-male models looks hit me up because they aren’t getting anywhere.
Obviously, there are many factors at play here. But by far, the biggest contributor is body language and facial expressions. A couple of months ago, I read a book called “The Dictionary of Body Language,” by FBI agent Joe Navarro and it all made sense. How I would instinctively direct my clients, mirrored Navarro’s advice on what confident, trustworthy body language was, and avoided much of what was explained to be suscept, weak and nervous.
The correct term for it is non-verbal communication or sub communication. And this is how you should think about it. We communicate with our bodies all the time, triggering the limbic system of the people around us and generating certain emotions as a consequence. We’re often not consciously aware of this happening, but it’s always at play.
The feeling that leads someone to either swipe right or left on you on online dating apps lies heavily upon these signals. But before I go into what attractive sub-communications are. I want to talk about what not to do.
Genuine big smiles are great! However, fake and nervous smiles convey a “nice guy/supplicating” kind of vibe.
Bad posture and not taking up much space:
Jordan Peterson rule 1 for life “Stand up straight with your shoulders back” no benzos necessary! This is a solid concept to implement. Think about a leader of a tribe at the top of the hierarchy; why would they feel any need to make their movements or the amount of space they take up small? On the contrary, you would occupy as much space as you wanted. Not in a try-hard way, but in more of “i’m feeling comfortable and entitled within my environment” kind of way.
On the contrary, reducing the amount of space you take up may manifest in pulling your shoulders closer together, having your arms stiffly by your side, having your feet close together, etc.
This is a key tell in FBI investigations that someone is withholding the truth and is not at ease. It’s both weak and untrustworthy.
We associate looking down with shyness, timidity, submissiveness, and depression. Not exactly what you want to portray.
Hands in pocket:
This is something that’s been ingrained into us through evolution. Once upon a time, someone putting their hands in their pocket equated to, they may be hiding a weapon, etc. It makes you look closed off and shy.
Sometimes I will get clients to put one hand in their pocket with their thumb out. But that’s the only exception.
Dear in the headlights:
Legendary portrait photographer Peter Hurley says confidence is all in the eyes. And this is so true. Having your eyes wide open conveys fear, stress, and unease. Not what you want.
Folding your arms is a prime example of defensive body language; it makes people much less likely to want to engage with you as it’s an outward manifestation of you walling yourself off.
When we are open and confident, we expose ourselves freely to others without trying to hide anything. Having our chin down is a way in which we hide our neck; it also makes you look like a sad boy. Don’t do it.
This communicates sexual shame. The classic example of this is the “gentleman pose”. Don’t do it.
As the name suggests, these are subconscious behaviours that we use to soothe ourselves when in distress. A classic example of a pacifying behaviour, is a man readjusting his tie or when we put our hand on our suprasternal notch (where the neck and chest meet). Other pacifying behaviours include grabbing parts of our clothes, running our palms over our
thighs, touching the back of our neck, and grabbing our opposite arm.
General lack of conviction/awkwardness:
This is something I harp on about a lot, but everything you do behind the camera should be done with conviction! Often the worst online dating photos are where the subject isn’t sure what they’re doing in the shot and give off a vibe of uncertainty. Whatever you do, own it.
Tension in face:
This is big, and it’s something that men are often not aware of. Clients who have a nervous smile, for example, often have a ton of tension in their cheeks. If this is you, the best thing to do is be aware of the tension, take a deep breath, and drop your face into a neutral position. Just because you feel nerves and tension doesn’t mean your outward body language has to
reflect it. Tension often shows up in having a furrowed brow, wrinkled forehead, and so on. Alright, now we’ve broken down what not to do. Let’s go into what kind of sub communications lead to online dating success. Overall, you want to convey confidence, dominance, and relaxation (these are all closely tied together); in addition to that, you will want to display your more loving, kind, and playful side.
Now how do you get in a relaxed state while in front of the camera? A lot like to say meditation but let’s be honest. You introduce the average person to the typical concentration meditation, and they’re probably going to struggle with it, not to mention they probably won’t stay in that state of presence. What i’ve found works better is telling people to take some deep breaths and drop their awareness into their body. Starting with feeling their feet on the ground, then feeling their legs, then lower spine, and so on. If my client has a bit more of an understanding of mediation and emotional awareness, I might get him to welcome any feeling of nerves or pressure to succeed and feel it fully. And after welcoming it, I will get them to let go of the nervous feeling as much as they can and then welcome any feelings of relaxation and being carefree or playful and repeat.
In terms of what relaxation looks like externally. It means no fidgeting, hunching, have your arms hanging, shoulders wide, etc.
A quick little exercise you can do to feel confident is to think of a value you hold strongly and then visualize a time where you have lived up to that value. It could be something like courage, for example. Close your eyes, go back to the memory, recall the feeling, what it looked liked, etc., feel it, find more examples, and so forth. You could also do this with attractiveness as that quality is relevant to the situation; simply visualize and relive the memory of any time that quality has been validated.
As stated earlier, “Confidence comes from the eyes” what i’m about to introduce to you was the absolute biggest game-changer for my portrait photographer career. And it’s called “squinching” Peter Hurley coined this. Watch it here as no one explains it better than him
Other signals of confidence include. Occupying space, as mentioned earlier, having your chin up and exposed, having your legs spread wide, having your chest out and your shoulders back and low, and doing everything with conviction.
This can be a challenge for some guys to summon this part of themselves in front of the camera. Something i’ve found effective is to get guys to walk towards the camera like they’re on a mission. I tell them to walk with purpose. And sometimes tell them to walk with a bit of strut; it tends to look a lot better as there is more motion to capture, giving it more of that snapshot effect.
Playfulness and love:
To naturally achieve more of a loving kind of vibe in a shot. Something that can work great is doing a love and kindness meditation. Thinking of someone you love and saying, “May you be safe, may you be happy, may you live with ease,” and meaning it, or just thinking of people or memories that make you feel love, or rainbows and gummy bears, whatever
works feel that love.
Cracking a real smile can be challenging, and like I said, fake smiles are the worst. You can think of funny memories. Or better yet, have a photographer who can actually crack jokes and snap you while you’re laughing your ass off.
Additional sub-communication hacks:
Jawline Ascension: This is when you push your jaw forward slightly to enhance the perceived separation between your jaw and neck, making your jawline look stronger. Again this is another gem from Peter Hurley.
Steepling: Google it. It’s essentially when you place your fingers together so that they form an upward-facing v-shape. It’s something frequently done by the world’s most powerful leaders.
Activity Shots: Getting someone to snap you while you’re actually doing something you’re passionate about and easily engaged in will often lead to naturally having good sub comms.
It could be playing an instrument, sport, looking through records, and so many others. Alright, that’s enough for now. Go out and implement these tips and let me know how it goes.