OPW INTERVIEW -- Nov 29 -- Merav and Dave know photography. They can help users take them, and crop them. - Mark Brooks
Can you tell us more about LookBetterOnline.com? How was the company founded?
I met my partner Dave, who used to be a photographer, on Matchmaker.com years ago. He told me how hard it was for him to find a professional photographer to take his photos. Then we started talking about it and came to the conclusion that there could be a market for a photography service just for people who date online and that’s how it started.
We decided to create a nationwide database of photographers so people can find somebody closer to them and don’t have to drive too far or even the photographer can come to them. So it’s all about convenience about finding those photographers. I am the web developer and Dave is the ex-photographer and he’s also the project manager. So it is a good partnership.
Why do people need accurate photos?
You can’t expect to find good quality dates with a photo that doesn’t do you justice. The biggest mistake people do is they use a snapshot from a holiday or from a party and others can’t really see what they look like and tell if they like them. Therefore they will be hesitant in writing to them.
Now a key distinction here from what I understand is you don’t do glamour photographs.
We don’t. It’s very important to us and that’s how we train our photographers. We don’t want people to look over done, desperate or look like they’re trying too hard. We want them to look natural. So that’s why we train our photographers to take the photos as much as possible in natural lighting meaning outside the studios if possible, not to use any backdrops or anything cheesy.
You’ve partnered with a number of internet dating and a few social networking sites. Who are your top partners?
Our top partners are big sites like Match.com, Cupid.com, ChristianCafé, J-Date, American Singles and a bunch of others. We also partner with a lot of dating coaches who realized very quickly that their customers need good photos. Some of them include it in their package.
Why have they partnered with you? What is the deal for them?
For the dating sites it’s very simple. They want their customers to be happy on their website. If they have a good photo, they have a better experience on the site and stay longer. Also dating sites use the photos to attract new customers. The other reason is commissions which is another source of revenue.
People go onto a personal site to ‘shop’ for people so it makes sense if they look good.
Yes I think sometimes it’s just dreadful. You go to a dating site and you think should I join it or not? You do a search and you see all these ugly photos, unattractive photos and I’m sure the people are not as unattractive as their photos but it just doesn’t make a really good impression.
People are not necessarily looking for super models but they do want to know what they’re getting into. They want to know when they go on a date that the person is going to look like their photos and there is not going to be any surprises.
Another common problem is cropping the photos. A lot of times people take a photograph and they’re way off in the distance or they’ve got other people in the photograph. So you created CroppingTool.com. Tell me more about that.
Cropping Tool is a really cool tool that allows the dating site to crop the faces of the photos and leave everything else aside. I know some dating sites are doing it manually or semi-manually. They have people sitting and cropping those heads out of the photos and it just takes a long time and it costs them a lot of money. We created this tool that does it automatically based on the location of the eyes and all kinds of other parameters. It took us 2 years to develop it.
What else do you have in the pipeline for the dating and social networking industry?
We just launched a new site called BetterBusinessShots.com which is for business photos. We would like to partner with business networks such as LinkedIn, real estate agent sites and whoever needs good photos. Our prices are very reasonable starting from $99 for a photo shoot.
We are expanding to other verticals like pet photography (BetterPetShots.com), babies and couples. We have a few in the pipeline… The reason we wanted to do this is because we have a database of great photographers. They’re already trained to take the photos the way we want. It took us a long time to create this kind of database of quality photographers. So why not use them for other verticals as well. So that’s going to be rolling out in the next couple of months.