Maria Izaurralde doesn’t claim to be an online dating expert. She just says she is probably better at it than you are.
After spending years on the online dating circuit, Izaurralde noticed that many of the profiles she looked at were lacking. The pictures were weak, descriptions were barren and the conversation was usually even worse. So, she set out to change it.
Izaurralde launched Right Swipe Pics in January, a lifestyle photography service that she says is the next level of personal branding. Her business is to make you desirable, and help you accentuate your best features to the often fickle online dating crowd.
“I just saw a need for this,” Izaurralde said. “I always see there’s a problem with other people’s photos. Photos themselves have the power to change outcomes. I thought I would bring that to people who don’t have it.”
Izaurralde, who is an award-winning Miami-based event photographer, says each picture you put in your profile says something about you. She wants to help you make sure it says the right thing.
For $250, Izaurralde conducts a photoshoot and consultation for her clients. She tries to put people in their environment, or photograph them doing something they excel at. They are the product, and she is the advertising agency.
“These are photos where you’re making someone look good, and that’s the most important thing,” Izaurralde said.
Headshots are out, Izaurralde says, because they don’t show anything about you. Cropping photos are a bad look, and mirror selfies are as well.
But pictures with dogs? Now we’re talking.
“If you have a dog in your photo, that’s putting out a message,” Izaurralde said. “Dogs require commitment, and big dogs require a very big commitment. We pick up these messages.”
Though $250 may seem like a steep price for an online dating consultation, many folks spend gobs of money on improving their personal appearance all of the time. According to the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of people who are currently single and looking between ages 25 and 44 have used an online dating site, and one in five users say they’ve asked someone to help them with their profile.
There’s a lot of competition out there, and Izauralde says she believes she can help you stand out. And apparently it’s a lot more difficult to do that than you might think.
Take shirtless photos, for example. Izaurlde says they can be big winners, but they have to do be done right.
“If you’re engaged in a sport or activity and someone else is taking a photo, that’s fine,” Izauralde said. “You can be doing something if you’re already shirtless – like if you’re playing volleyball on the beach.”
Once you draw perspective dates in with the perfect set of photos, you have to close the deal. Izauralde has tips for that, too.
“You have to look for a conversation starter in the person’s profile,” Izauralde said. “I always have interesting profiles. If on top of that – my interesting photos and the funny things I have in my profile – the only thing you can think of is, ‘Hey,’ then you’re an idiot. I won’t respond to you.”
And asking for someone’s phone number? That’s an art as well.
“It can’t come out of the blue,” Izauralde said. “You have to have a flow. You have to develop some kind of rapport where you know you’re friendly with each other. You can’t make it awkward. If you ask for the phone number at the wrong time, it’s going to get weird. You look impatient.”
Izauralde plans to expand rapidly. Right Swipe Pics is solely based in Miami right now, but she says she’s currently talking to a photographer in Boston. She also has her eyes set on a move to San Francisco.
Online dating is no longer an underground phenomenon. It’s now a part of the mainstream. You can feel free to go through it without Izzauralde’s help, but you may risk losing out on your dream partner.
“You don’t do this because you want memories,” Izaurralde said. “You do this because you want outcomes.”
Photos via Maria Izzaurralde