How do you know if you take bad photos or if you’re actually ugly and in denial about it?
Ever take a picture of yourself when you’re looking great, only to find you look horrible in the photo?
Should you trust the photo to be the objective truth?
Actually: no. You shouldn’t.
You don’t look like your worst pictures.
Real life is more forgiving than pictures
Cameras don’t capture people exactly the way they look in real life.
As explained in-depth at Do You Look Different in Pictures Than in Real Life? Yes, and Here’s How, our cameras see things differently than our eyes do.
In short, it’s important to understand that our vision is forgiving. Photos, on the contrary, are very stark.
Our brains naturally filter what we see in real life like a real-time Photoshop.
Thus, an unflattering photo will highlight your flaws far beyond how they’d look in real life.
An anonymous forum commenter explained her realization of this, saying:
My favorite experiment to help self esteem with it was to actually sit in my bathroom mirror with my phone camera switched around. I could see what I looked like in the mirror AND see what I looked like on the camera screen at the same time, and see how they were different. And it wasn’t just me! I could see how the light when seen through the camera hits my nose and cheekbones differently, etc.
Looking good in pictures is largely a matter of skill (gained through practice)
Granted, there is such thing as a more or less photogenic face. More angled features (think: Gisele Bundchen) tend to harness light easier and photograph more consistently than rounded ones. However, plenty of people with rounded features (think: Chrissy Teigen) still manage to take phenomenal pictures.
At its most basic level, looking good in pictures is largely a matter of skill. It’s about learning how to use light and angles to your benefit.
It has something to do with what you look like, but that’s only half of it.
This flies in the face of what most people think. Most people imagine they’re either good-looking or they’re not, or they have the “selfie gene” or they don’t.
What they don’t see is the thousands of tries (e.g. tons of practice and trial and error) it took someone to look so good in all of their pictures.
You can’t just hold your phone out in front of you, snap one haphazard selfie, and expect it to look good.
Instagram vs. real life vs. how people see you in real life
“Instagram vs. real life” images are a growing trend among young female Instagrammers, and many of our favorites come from Sara Puhto.
The Finnish 20-something — an ex-fitness Instagrammer — used to document her workouts, clean eating, and impressive physique on Instagram.
However, she became increasingly disillusioned with unrealistic images of fitness, including her own.
Wanting the world to realize that Instagram models don’t always look like their best pictures, she began regularly posting photos like this:
Photo comparisons like these illustrate how much skill and effort goes into each shot on an Instagram model’s feed.
It’s a false premise, however, to say that the Insta-photos don’t look like the person at all, while the unflattering photos are how they look in real life.
In terms of what you look like to other people in your day-to-day life, it’s much more accurate to say that people look like a swirl of their most perfectly posed and least flattering pictures.
So if you did invest the time and practice into taking an absolutely killer picture, you probably won’t look as perfect and polished in person, nor as homely as your worst candids.
Bad selfie or just ugly?
At Photofeeler, we know all too well that a picture doesn’t just show you as you are.
Still, most people walk around thinking that every picture of themselves portrays “the truth.” That if they get a bad score on Photofeeler, it’s because they’re ugly.
On the contrary, as illustrated in Do You Look Different in Pictures Than in Real Life? Yes, and Here’s How, our cameras work differently than our eyes — resulting in “selfie distortion,” optical illusions that appear in the transition from 3D to 2D, over-emphasized flaws, and more.
To determine what you look like to other people in your day-to-day life, you’d need to take a great variety of pictures and then imagine that all of them put together form the most accurate representation.
To truly get a variety of pictures that show the whole spectrum of what you look like, you’d need to practice taking photos regularly throughout your life while you’re out and about, not just when you’re alone in your bedroom and need a new picture for Tinder.
Now, if you regularly practiced taking photos of yourself, tested lots of varying shots on Photofeeler, and all still scored poorly, then you might try to actually change something about how you look — like updating your clothes or hairstyle.
But it rarely takes drastically changing what you look like to reap drastically better pictures.
If more people knew everything we’ve just discussed, I suspect we’d stop beating ourselves up over every bad picture. Instead, we could begin to appreciate that taking good photos is an art form that takes time to master.