From the time I began online, I have heard some say not only didn't they care if they saw what online friends looked like, some preferred not to, feeling it would ruin the potential for deeper connection-- what is inside matters and not outside.
If you see it that way, forming a friendship or even falling in love before seeing the person's photograph, is more about the inner person. One friend of mine told me that to care about a picture is to be on a more superficial level. In other words-- spiritual connection is real and seeing photos lessens that-- at the very least in the beginning.
Okay, I admit. I am very visual. When I started online, I wanted to learn about people through their words but also what they and their world looked like. I shared photos of myself as well as enjoyed seeing people, their families, friends, and them through prior years. If a friend asked if I'd like to see their Aunt Sue, I'd say sure. If Aunt Sue had sounded interesting enough, I might have already requested seeing her picture. In conversations online at msn or yahoo, my friends and I sometimes use a webcam which makes it seem closer to in-person discussions.
Blogging is the same way for me. I like seeing people's pictures, their families, pets, what they see out their backdoor. I do, however, understand why some opt not to share personal photos online and particularly in a blog when it can be politically unpopular to the extent of losing jobs or relationships over words written. I was warned from the first personal photos I ever put online that it'd cause me grief. It never has-- at least not that I knew and if I didn't know, guess it didn't.
Where it has come to people meeting romantically, I have heard a surprising number of stories where someone deliberately faked the photos to get the other to fall in love with an illusion. I guess they were hoping by the time they met, it would not matter that they were now twenty years older. One woman used a photo of a slender white woman-- she was a an obese black woman. Now how do you figure that's going to work when you really meet? (It didn't.) Perhaps some get so caught up in the creating of an image with words that they forget reality.
On the other side of that coin, a photo should not be the main thing in assessing who someone is. A few friends of mine (male and female), who are looking for a partner online, have shown current photos of themselves to someone who summarily rejected them on that alone. That seems short-sighted given some people are very photogenic, and some look far better in person. A photograph is, at the most, a glimpse of what someone looks like. In person you see a person's animation as they talk, the teasing smile or gleam in their eyes, how their body moves, none of which can be shown in photos.
I am interested in how others see it. How important are images to you? Do you like to see them or not care? Are you willing to share your photo after you meet someone; and if you are not, why not? Have you ever shared your pictures online (website or blog) and regretted it later because of a problem? Do you believe it is more 'pure' to form a relationship before either of you see a photo?