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Skylum “swipe report” demonstrates importance of photos in dating apps

Skylum, the makers of creative photo-editing tool Luminar released its “Swipe Report,” revealing, when asked which dating negatives which might otherwise be important to them could be overlooked if someone had a good photo, 28 percent of dating app/site users (US adults who have ever used an online dating service) are willing to overlook social preferences (e.g., drinking, smoking, etc.), along with relationship goals ((e.g., long-term, short-term, casual, etc., 27%), education (26%), political views (24%), height (23%) and more.

“As online dating is increasingly mainstream, it’s changed the way we get to know each other and how we form a first impression. Namely, we only have a handful of photos to express ourselves through and hopefully get the swipe right,” said Alex Tsepko, CEO at Skylum. “As such, it’s no surprise we found a significant number of online daters think people should make an effort to have better photos and that they’d like to use basic photo editing tools to improve their own photos, all of which can be found in Luminar.”

First impressions

Having a good photo isn’t a sign of vanity, it’s a sign of self-expression. In fact, dating app/site users report that:

  • Nearly 60% (58%) would never connect with someone who didn’t have a photo
  • A quarter (25%) think a good photo means you care more about dating
  • 43% think they can get a better sense of someone’s personality based on their photos
  • Nearly 40% (38%) say the better the photos the more likely they are to swipe right/connect

Swipe left

Along with a willingness to overlook certain social preferences, such as education or political views, users were very specific in what types of photos had them swiping left. The top 10 most common photo deal breakers are:

  1. 55% no photo
  2. 34% bad quality photos
  3. 33% photos with someone that could be an ex (Women more bothered by these than men)
  4. 31% filters (e.g., Instagram filters, Facebook filters, Snapchat filters, etc.)
  5. 31% multiple of same photos
  6. 29% giant groups
  7. 26% blocking out other people’s faces (e.g., via emoji, stickers, blue, etc.)
  8. 23% Mirror pics/gym selfies (Women more bothered by these than men)
  9. 20% photos of only their face
  10. 19% photos with an exotic animal/pet that might not be theirs

About one-third of dating app/site users think people should make an effort to have better photos. In fact, 40 percent said they’d like to use basic photo editing tools (e.g., auto-enhancement, cropping, etc.) to improve their photos. Additionally,

  • 26% would like to use smart removal (perhaps to take that ex out of a good photo)
  • 18% would like for AI to help identify the best photos
  • 16% would like filters
  • 14% would like portrait enhancers (e.g., face slimming, teeth whitening, airbrush tools, etc.)
  • Additionally, the 18-34 age demographic is most likely to be editing their photos, about one in five (22%) have edited at least one photo they’ve used. Nearly a quarter (23%) don’t care if people edit their photos (though interestingly enough, 42% think they tell when a photo has been edited!).

The survey has been conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc panel of individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 3,681 adults, of which 1,030 have ever used an online dating service to find a partner/date. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th – 25th March 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).


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