The Subtle Art of Erotic Self-Portraiture

She doesn’t want a photo, but if you’re going to send one anyway it might as well be beautiful.

The first dick pic – a massive achievement – was presumably sent as soon as homo erectus discovered the mark-making properties of charcoal and took a break from mammoth hunting to render his ungroomed genitalia on a slightly disappointed gatherer’s cave wall. It’s been a relative constant ever since (witness: Pompeii’s penis templeJapan’s penis festival, and Anthony Weiner’s entire oevre ) and in today’s tech-driven society it is becoming an ever more dominant artistic genre. In the age of smartphones, the dumb self portrait is everywhere. And, let’s be clear, women are not pumped about this. Here is a representative answer we received after asking a fellow (female) coworker about dick pics: “Penises are ugly and weird, and only useful to have sex with. You can’t have sex with a picture, so why would I ever want that on my phone?”

Still, it seems like athletes and politicians are going to keep producing phallic photos despite a general lack of sexual interest and high potential for public shaming. Fine. Whatever. You do you. But if you’re going to do something stupid, please do it well. Here are some tips – as it were – from the ladies of Maxim on how to go digital fishing with your bait and tackle. It’s all about presenting yourself in the best light.

It’s All About Timing

You enjoy beer, but you don’t enjoy having bottles thrown at you while you’re trying to work. The same principle applies to penises: Even people who love penises don’t want to be surprised by them. That means that anyone looking to give an intimate presentation should consider when doing so makes the most sense. No woman really wants a “Happy Birthday!” dick pic or a “Morning, sunshine!” dick pic. That said, if you’re sexting with a lady friend and both of you are feeling hot and bothered, a dick piccould work in that situation. You just have to make sure your audience is ready. Even Seinfeld has an opening act.

Consider the Caption

Think of the ideal dick pic as a valentine. You are expressing your ardor, communicating your profound longing to your audience. Ask yourself if your meat is going to make her feel sexy and wanted or not sexy and terrified. If there is any chance it’s the latter, abort. If you’re feeling confident it’s the former, work on the captioning a bit. Women want to feel wanted. We crave it, actually, so a demonstration of the fact that you want us isn’t the worst thing so long as it’s appropriately labeled. “Thinking of you!” is probably a better approach than quoting the Ying Yang Twins

Context Is King

If you’re going to try and maintain your dignity while sending your not-so-tasteful nude, think twice about the backdrop. No one wants to see your junk in front of other junk: piles of dirty laundry, empty beer cans, your ratty briefs. Women also don’t want to see your dick flanked by that lovely family portrait, the one you guess took at the reunion in Yosemite, that you keep on your bedside table. That will not only kill the mood, but distract us in almost precisely the wrong way: “His dad has a nice smile…. I haven’t talked to my dad in a few days…. I should probably call him…. What if my dad saw this picture?… I need to make better choices.”

Ladies Love a Photographer

Even if you have a really pretty penis – and we’re sure you do – it’s never going to look as good as, say, boobs. Given that, you need to avoid harsh florescent lighting, which will highlight every angry vein, ingrown hair, and imperfection. You’re also going to want to think about which filtering options are at your disposal and go for something that will highlight your “features.” Here’s a hint: Avoid sepia tones. No one wants to feel like their staring at their grandfather’s dick. Go with something that pops and remember that you can always use your free hand to pose your subject in a more flattering way. We don’t need to know which way you hang.

Barber, Groom Thyself

Do yourself a favor and try a little manscaping. Not only will a quick trim keep you from looking like a caveman, but it can also make you look bigger. Also, know that her friends absolutely will see your erection and judge you. Over email, in a group chat, it doesn’t matter. Your dick pic will be discussed. Put in the effort to look your best, just like you did on picture day in middle school.

The Medium Is the Member

Now that you’ve posed, filtered and decided when to send you perfect pic, you’ve got to choose how you want your audience to engage with your art. Email might lead to an uncomfortable moment at the office (and there’s that pesky cloud to worry about). For that reason, it’s best to go with a good old-fashioned text message. Chances are, your intended receiver will lay eyes on it first (hopefully not while on line at Chipotle) and have the chance to ogle/delete at her leisure. Whatever you decide, for the love of all that is holy, do not send a girl a picture of your dick using Snapchat. If you’re going to commit, commit. If you’re going to go hard, don’t be soft about it.

The Moral of the Story

If you want to turn a lady on, send her a Ryan Gosling GIF then follow it up with a dinner reservation. If you take a beautiful picture of your penis, keep it in your wallet.

Photos by Foodcollection RF / Getty Images