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How to look hot in your online dating photos

SheKnows.com love/sex columnist Margeaux Baulch Klein is a freelance writer and lives in New York's East Village. She believes all is fair in love and sample sale shopping.

Dating photo do's and don'ts

An image may tell a thousand words, but when it comes to online dating sites, we're all a little skittish about putting our pic on the web for everyone (including our exes) to see.

Showing personality in personals photos

However, displaying a photo has been shown to dramatically increase the number of clicks and responses to one's online dating profile; not too surprising a fact when you consider the vast number of people who'd rather cut off their left pinky than suffer through a completely blind date.

So how does one go about putting her best foot forward photographically?

Having shot some of the world's most beautiful women for magazines such as Maxim, FHM and Cosmo, photographer Robert Caldarone knows a thing or two about making women looking hot. Below are his tips for taking photographs that sizzle.

Makeup & clothes

Keep it simple. Your online dating picture should look like you at your everyday best, so it's not essential to slather on a ton of makeup if you don't typically wear any. Loose powder, however, is mandatory to eliminate skin glare from the camera flash. "Use a neutral base translucent powder over any other makeup. Wherever the skin stretches tight tends to reflect more shine, so be sure to put extra powder on those areas, specifically the forehead, nose and chin," says Caldarone.

Clothes may make the woman, but wearing something that is overtly sexual could give potential suitors the wrong first impression. (In other words, don't write a photographic check you're not prepared to cash on the first couple dates. See some sleazy photo examples below on the right.) Instead, pick an outfit that you feel fun and flirtatious in -- but that is also comfortable and flattering.

Body language

While every woman has body issues, there are a few tricks to make the most of what you've got. A more petite woman, for example, will want to be photographed at a lower camera angle in order to elongate the body. "Ask whomever is taking the photo to sit down on a chair while you are standing up," suggests Caldarone.

good basic photos for personals sites

Likewise, "If a woman feels that she's a little heavy between her hips and shoulders, what she can do is put her feet in a 'L' stance," he advises. "Meaning, one foot is facing the camera and the other is turned at an 45 degree angle. Then have her twist her body towards the camera, slightly raising the heel on the front foot. Keeping the feet apart makes the legs look slimmer and twisting the torso has the same effect." Here are some flattering little tricks -- like the celebrities use! -- that you can use to look your best in photos.

And for the happy versus sultry question: Should you smile or pout? Caldarone's consensus is that a warm smile is inviting if it's not fake. "You can always tell if someone's faking it by the person's eyes. If someone is really smiling and happy his or her eyes will be lit up. The eyes and mouth should match."

If you are on Team Sultry, take note: When attempting a come-hither look, it's best to keep the lips relaxed and the mouth slightly open and not clench either your teeth or lips tight.

Where to shoot?

Your picture's background sends a subliminal message about your personality and lifestyle, whether you realize it or not. So what's your backdrop saying about you?

Sultry or sleazy? Personals photos

"When I shoot portraits, a lot of the time I like to do them in the subject's own environment because it adds to the details of who that person is. If I'm shooting a painter and his studio is messy and chaotic, it says something differently about him than an artist in a very organized, austere work place." (See some examples of how backgrounds and props can tell a story or intrigue the viewer at the top of the page on the right.)

And be sure not to over-light yourself: Caldarone suggests avoiding harsh midday light if outdoors and fluorescent lights indoors, since no one looks good when every facial pore is highlighted and shadowed dramatically.

Project a little attitude

If you think the only ingredients to a great photo are soft lighting and an expertly applied fake tan, think again. "There should be a little fire in you," says Caldarone. "Confidence is important -- you can't look hot if you don't believe you are."

So put on on a few favorite tunes and a taking a few practice poses in front of mirror to conquer any nerves -- then shoot away until you get the perfect photo: the one that you think shows your best self!

Want more advice one being sexy and single? Read out single girl's guide to dating>>

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