I met my hubby (>10 years happily married) via the personals. No pictures were exchanged, and it’s a good thing, since he generally looks like a dork in photos, but is handsome in person. Built, too, which wouldn’t have shown up in a photo.
My suggestion from years in the blind-dating trenches: talk on the phone if you can, or send an e-mail or two. If talk seems OK, meet right away at a coffeehouse. If you don’t hit it off, or don’t like the looks of each other, not much money or time has been invested. If you like each other, the evening can go on as long as you like. (“Want to catch a movie? Want to grab something substantial to eat?” etc. If not–“well, it was nice meeting you, but I really have to get going now.”)
Meet lots of women. As one of my unsuccessful (but nice) blind dates said, “If you knock on enough doors, eventually someone you like has got to answer one.” See? He was right. My cousin met his wife via dating service, and I have several friends who met spouses online. It does happen, if you are persistent.
PS- my friends and I referred to the blind-dating thing as “geek-of-the-week”…for guys, it’s the “beak-of-the-week”. Totally un-PC, but funny!