"I once had a man send me an unwanted dick [pic]," Jennifer*, 27, said. "You could clearly see smegma on the top when you zoomed in. It was disgusting. I hate that I even [said] that."
Gentlemen, don't be that guy. And ladies, this scenario is probably all too familiar to you.
An overwhelming number of women — about 45% of single ladies, according to Match.com — have been on the receiving end of fleshy full frontals, whether it's through Snapchat, Tinder, Twitter, text or emails. Because dick pics are often unsolicited, as was the case with Jennifer's unhygienic suitor, a lot has been said about how dick pics are vehicles for misogynistic harassment. But even though many women say they just aren't interested in receiving dirty photos at all, solicited or not, stats tell a slightly different story.
According to a 2014 poll from the software security firm McAfee, an estimated 50% of people have sent or received a sext. Yet another study suggests that couples who swap dirty pics are more likely to be happy in their relationships. "Personally, I love [getting dick pics] from my boyfriend," one redditor said on a forum about dick pics. "I think they're incredibly sexy. I love seeing him hard."
Still, taking a good dick pic and having it be well received is a lot more difficult than dropping trou and pointing an iPhone. So what can men who want to take a classy, consensual dick pic do to get their best shot?
To find out, Mic asked 20-something women, professional dick photographer Soraya Doolbaz and real-world sex curator Sarah Beall for tips on how to nail the solo shot. Consider this a guide to the completely non-creepy, incredibly hot dick pic that women actually want to open.
1. Know your audience.
This one cannot be overstated: All women resoundingly agreed that you should never send an unsolicited dick pic at any time on any platform. This type of shot almost always registers as creepy, threatening and, yes, a complete turn-off.
Men go wrong when they're "sending without asking or feeling out if I would be into it," Jennifer told Mic. "You wouldn't whip out your cock if we were casually flirting in my living room, would you?"
"[I want dick pics] pretty much only with a regular bang and only as a request to have sex with me as soon as possible," Helen*, 26, told Mic. "Dick pics at any chick who you start talking to before you get to know them is a terrible idea."
Gentlemen, if you send a shot of your junk to a lady without receiving her express consent beforehand, be warned: She will likely ridicule you (and your package) mercilessly. "One guy on Tinder sent me a through-the-pants shot before we even had a conversation," Clara*, 28, told Mic. "Ew, no. I never want to see you. Talk to me, date me, sleep with me. Then and only then can you sext me."
2. Don't just drop a dick pic in the middle of a conversation.
Sara*, 26, said she's only interested in dick pics if they're in the context of an ongoing sexting conversation with a partner. She said oftentimes, men send a dick pic expecting the content of the image (i.e., the dick itself) to do all the work for them.
"They think the moment I see their wang, I'm going to get all hot and bothered," Sara told Mic. "Sorry, if I'm sitting at work and open up my phone to see your dong on my screen, I'm probably not going to respond favorably."
Dick pic senders should also keep in mind the ultimate purpose of sending a dick pic: to turn the recipient on, not to show off what they're working with. "Just dick can be fine and totally hot, even if it's poorly shot," Elizabeth*, 33, told Mic. "If the pic itself is supposed to turn me on, then it needs more thought, context and consideration."
As Helen put it: "The way the pic should be presented is that it's more about her getting wet than your dick getting wet."
3. Don't forget composition.
Generally speaking, dick pics are synonymous with an out-of-focus and seedy aesthetic, dispatched by clumsy politicians and unwanted paramours alike. But just because it's a photo of a boner doesn't mean a dick pic needs to forgo thoughtfulness. The rule of thirds and the need for good lighting and framing should apply to dick pics too.
"The problem with most dick pics is that they're utilitarian advertisements for size, with no erotic flair or artistic effort," Madeleine Holden, who runs the popular blog Critique My Dick Pic (NSFW), which grades user-submitted dick pics, told AlterNet of her work.
Most senders of self-produced erotic images commit at least one of the following offenses, according to Helen: "1) They are done completely carelessly, poorly framed, blurry, soft, done for the lolz. 2) They are way too thought out. Once I got one framed with a mirror so this dude was basically sword fighting himself. Awful. Why?"
So what makes for a good composition? Fortunately, women have a lot of thoughts on the matter.
"Good lighting, especially natural light, is a good place to start," Sarah Beall, Madam Curator of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv (she's seen hundreds of dicks on camera, trust), told Mic. "Also, clear away any trash or piles of laundry and other distracting objects so that they don't detract from the full image. If you're feeling pro enough to take a pic in the mirror (without flash) then clean that mirror and close your shower curtain."
Lila*, 25, agreed that such formal elements are key. "If we're texting and things start getting hot, I don't want a dick just popping out of nowhere, like in front of the grey light of your fridge," she told Mic. "I want a tastefully done shot of your cock. I want some drama. Some intrigue. Tell a story with your dick, people!"
And be advised: Unlike Norma Desmond, your dick is probably not ready for its close-up. "If I can see your weird scraggly ball hairs coming out of your clearly distinguishable ball hair pores, your camera is too close to your junk," Amelia, 27, warned.
4. Your body is your best prop.
Contrary to what most guys think, the penis doesn't always have to be the main attraction in a dick pic. In fact, most women told Mic that they prefer full-body shots to straight-up cock photos.
"Include more of you than just your dick. The dick pic is a tease or an invitation, if you will," Beall said. "Show off those eyes, that torso, those geometric patterned briefs or your cat side-eyeing you. Be you. You're more than just your awesome dick."
The body part that most women tend to salivate over is not the dick, but the Apollo's belt — that v-shape framing the pubic area on a man's abdomen.
"Pretty sure most girls like to look at the 'V' more than a guy's actual package," Jess*, 26, told Mic. Amelia agreed: "If you've got a good body — nice abs, that sexy groin line — then include that in the shot. Trust me, that's what really gets me going."
And if you're curious as to whether or not the twins should make an appearance, Jolie*, 28, says think again. "I don't want to see your balls," she told Mic. "Apply the same amount of effort to your dick pic as you did to your senior portrait."
5. Always, always be hard.
Women unanimously said they only wanted to receive cock shots where a man is sporting an erection. It's all about what the hard dick is messaging to the recipient.
"If I know a person, and I know that I am specifically causing their boner, then I like to see it," Anna* told the Date Report. "There are good and bad ways take a picture of your own dick, but if the idea behind it is 'Baby, you've made me so hard right now, I have to show you,' that's good."
"If it isn't at least sort of hard, why bother?" Helen said.
6. Don't rely on the same "dick over the sink" position every time.
Dick pic-takers have a long-held tradition of taking the classic "dick over the sink" shot, which involves the member hanging over the bathroom counter. While taking this type of picture is tempting (you are in the bathroom with privacy, after all), these pictures are really "uninspired," as Critique My Dick Pic's Madeleine Holden told AlterNet: "It's sterile, and a strange place for your dick to be."
What do women actually want to see? "POV is the classic dick pic," Doolbaz, a professional photographer and creator of the penis-centric series Dicture Gallery, told Mic. "It's straightforward, easy to capture and gets the point across without involving the balls. A great one is the reverse camera on a table. The idea is get the dick front and centered in the frame with you blurred and small in the background. The dick will appear huge and the picture turns out quite artistic."
Note that the whole penis and nothing but the whole penis doesn't always have to have a starring role. Sometimes, it's better for it to simply make a cameo. "Leave a little to the imagination," Beall said. "Just the tip poking out of a pair of boxers can be pretty hot."
7. It can get dirty, but keep it clean.
Women interviewed were hands-down not into cum shots (sorry, fellas). "No cum," Jennifer proclaimed. They also said that in dick pics, every hair, pore and inch of skin is magnified — which means it's best to make sure you're clean before you begin snapping. Whether that means showering beforehand or giving your dick a quick rinse or grooming, your efforts will be reflected in the quality of the shot.
"If you are in the business of showing off your dick, I hope your pubes are trimmed," Amelia said. "It's not something I require in all my hookups, but I'd figure if you are trying to peacock, you should be into upkeep."
8. Bonus points if you can get super creative while still being sexy.
A truly outstanding dick pic also means taking creative risks. That could mean adding in odd props, editing photos or stepping away from photography altogether. "I much prefer videos," Lila told Mic. "A jerk-off video is the holy grail."
If you happen to have some miniature toy soldiers or googly eyes around, use these props to your advantage. "Edit that dick pic with words or accessories," Doolbaz said. "Girls love guys who try to make them laugh. We also love effort put into things. Throw some googly eyes or a mustache on that bad boy. Maybe add a thought bubble, perhaps he's got something to say."
"Be funny," Beall suggested. "Put a pair of tiny glasses on your dick, learn some penis puppetry or write a witty caption. It's long been rumored that straight women love a guy with a sense of humor, so why not show that off while also showing the goods?"
*Some names have been changed to allow subjects to speak freely on private matters.