Toronto entrepreneur Andy Hoang only gets a few swipes right in his online dating efforts.
"Right now, I'd say if I'm lucky, I'll get one [right-swipe] every few days," he told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.
But a better-looking headshot may change all that, he says. That's why he's now hired professional photographer Talib Contractor to take his online dating profile photos.
Contractor, who has long been an amateur photographer, made a business of taking photos for online dating profiles last year after an acquaintance asked for his help with his profile photos. He then began to pursue his hobby professionally, joining the growing field of photographers who specialize in photos for dating profiles led by the rapid rise of dating apps.
"I've seen tremendous growth [in clients] in the last six, seven months," he told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.
Significance of the profile photo
A flattering photo is key, Hoang says, particularly given how populated dating apps are.
"There seem to be a lot of guys out there and having really good photos, I think, really gives you that advantage," he said.
"Especially on most of these online sites, I think people look at photos first or only look at photos and that's where they make their judgements."
He says his current photos don't do him justice.
"It really would give me more confidence having better pictures of myself," Hoang said. "When I look at myself ... in my photos, I'm always like, 'I know I look better than that.'"
Contractor says those looking for a date online have a plethora of options and photos can make a significant difference.
"It's so easy to just left-swipe, right-swipe. If the picture is bad, you automatically left-swipe. You don't even give the person a chance."
As a result, "there's a lot of people who are interested in [professionally-shot] profile pictures," Contractor said. "A lot of people are nervous about taking their own pictures and don't trust their friends taking the pictures."
While his business is growing, Contractor says there is a stigma about paying a photographer to improve your dating profile and that most of his clients are embarrassed to say that they have asked for his services — including Hoang.
"I don't really tell my friends that I'm doing this because it seems kind of strange that I have to pay to get photos of myself taken, but I know how beneficial it can be and that's why I did it."
Both Contractor and Hoang say they've seen the results when profile photos are improved.
Hoang says his friend, who used Contractor's services and recommended them to him, has seen more dating success since.
"I was [asking him,] 'What did you differently?' Because he's the same person. He doesn't look any different, but suddenly he's going on more dates now and meeting more people and seems more excited about life ... He said one of the things he did was get really good photos taken."
Contractor says his photos have also spurred a few successful relationships.
"I had a guy, I did a shoot for him in May and he came back in December and he's like, 'Hey, do you want to do engagement shots?'"
That's what Hoang is hoping for, he said — long-term success.
"I'm in my 30s and at this point in my life, I feel like I need to find someone. So it'd be nice to find someone I really like."