If a picture is worth a thousand words, then yours should look like a million. Your photos, after all, aren’t just the first things that prospective birth parents will see when they come across your parent profile. If your pics aren’t picture perfect, they could be the only thing they see – before they move onto another profile.

When it comes to creating that all-important first impression, your  pics are probably even more important than your prose. In fact, experience shows that the more photos you have in your parent profile or your “Dear Birth Mother” letter, the better chances you have of getting chosen. Photos won’t merely give you the edge. In some cases, they could be the deciding factor on whether you get chosen.

The reason is simple: Photos convey images and emotions that words just can’t. They tell stories, create sparks and build connections – all of things that your parent profile needs to do.

Ideally, the photos in your parent profile should be eye-catching, versatile and tell a story. They should be originals, with high contrast, and be clean, crisp and professional-looking. That doesn’t mean you’ll need a professional to snap them. If you’ve got a friend or family member who’s a bit of a shutterbug, take an afternoon off and head out to the park or the zoo for a photo session. The time you invest in getting your pics just right will eventually pay off.

And, once you’re done, if you want to optimize your photos further, take a look at our Design Service. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, just imagine what a book with 50 of them will look like. And keep in mind these suggestions.

Informal shots are better than formal ones. When choosing your photos, avoid anything that looks stiff, staged or stuffy. A shot of you on vacation or sharing a laugh with friends in the backyard is all you really need. Remember, you want to come across as real and relaxed — the kind of person a potential birth mother would feel right at home with chatting over coffee. In other words, official wedding photos and the like are better left in their albums.

Outdoor shots are better than indoor ones. The reason for this is simple: outdoor shots are open and natural-looking, and that’s exactly the kind of tone you want to set with a prospective birth mother. Make sure your photos are free of technical glitches (over or underexposed, out of focus or full of heavy shadows — in other words, the obvious stuff).

Close-ups are better than long shots. Interesting as they seem to you, the backgrounds of your photos should be secondary. What really counts is what’s in the foreground — you! So while it’s all well and good to show highlights from your latest trip to the Rockies, that’s not what a potential birth mother is interested in. Keep the setting simple. The focus should always be on you.

Keep it positive. This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people ignore it. A tip: Milestones — a birthday, anniversary or celebration of some kind — are all ideal photo ops. Choose something that portrays you in a positive light, literally and figuratively, and brings out the best in you.

Aim for versatility. Your life is full of all sorts of interesting moments and occasions. Your photos should reflect this. For instance, if you’ve got any shots from Halloween hanging around, put them in. They’re guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone’s face. And if you really want to show how family-minded you are, include shots of the whole family as well.

Avoid action shots. Visually, they may be more interesting than a simple portrait, but they belong in sports magazines, not in your letter. Prospective birth mothers aren’t particularly interested in how well you windsurf or whether you’ve ever skydived. They want to know about you, the person and the potential parent. Period.

Include children and/or pets. One of the things a prospective birth mother will be trying to visualize is what kind of parent you’ll make. You can help them out by including shots of you with your nephews or nieces, if you’ve got them, or a friend’s children, if you don’t. If you’ve got a dog or cat, include them as well since they’re always a big hit. (And they are, after all, your first born). Some waiting parents have been known to go so far as to borrow a pet for their shoot but sorry, we think that’s pushing it.

Make it descriptive. In writing your cutlines, avoid generic descriptions. Instead, try to use them as a means of illustrating a story about yourself. For instance, for a shot of you holding up a fish, don’t say “Fishing in the summer”. Instead, share a detail about yourself like “Every summer we like to go fishing at the cottage”. And whenever possible, try to tie your photos back to things you’ve mentioned in your parent profile.

Include a shot of your house. Prospective birth mothers want to know their child will be growing up in a good home. What better way to demonstrate this than to show a picture of yours? It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something that will give a peek into the kind of life their child will have.

Need help with your profile? Check out our Parent Profile Writing Service.