Photo seems “outdated” or “artificial”?
What exactly is it that people mean when they send these common notes on Photofeeler?
What People Say vs. What They Mean
Well, first of all, let’s get one thing straight: when people give you vague notes, it’s usually not because they’re holding something back.
Most people have a clear sense of how they feel about a picture (or the person in it), but they don’t necessarily know what it is about the picture that makes them feel that way.
Forcing people to give specific suggestions, in this case, can backfire in terribly misleading feedback.
Someone might say, “Don’t be so happy,” when the real thing that was putting them off was overly wide eyes. Or they might say, “Don’t make it so bright,” when it’s not the brightness of the picture that bothered them but the subject’s squinting eyes.
For these reasons, it’s best to take notes with a grain of salt. (For specific info on how to raise photo scores, there’s plenty on this blog!)
Meanings Behind Popular Notes
That said, there are common themes we see behind many of the most popular notes.
If you’re stumped, take these possibilities into consideration.
“Photo seems a bit artificial to me.”
So why is this note such a go-to for users?
Our observation tells us that — most often — it’s used when a photo subject appears a bit stiff or posed (not quite natural or authentic).
Other times, the person could be referring to a background that looks pasted-in or even a fake-looking prop.
“I think they seem a bit intense in this photo.”
Most often, this note is used when the subject of the photo is making the viewer feel a bit uneasy. There could be a strong negative flavor to the photo (a dark blue filter, for instance) and/or it could be taken uncomfortably close-up.
Another reason voters use this note is when the photographed person’s eyes are open especially wide (a la the old “deer in headlights”) which can be jarring or uncomfortable for the viewer.
“Photo seems a bit outdated to me.”
This note usually means that something about the photo doesn’t feel modern. Maybe it’s an outdated background, outdated clothes, or an outdated pose.
Other times it can mean the photo itself looks old. This can happen when Instagram-like filters are used that wash out the colors of a picture.
“Would prefer a less distracting background.”
Pictures that clearly showcase your physical surroundings work great as posts on Facebook or Instagram. Photos of us posing in front of notable buildings, in front of signs, or in a crowd tell a story about the places we’ve been and the things we’ve done.
Profile pictures, however, are more often meant to represent you among strangers. That means many people expect you to be the main subject of interest — without a whole lot of clutter drawing the eye away or making it difficult to tell what you actually look like.
Another common reason voters use this note is when there’s something in the background that dials down the overall professionalism of a LinkedIn photo or overall attractiveness of a dating photo. Say, if you take the picture in the bathroom, voters may comment that the background is “distracting” because it is saying negative things about you instead of letting your body language speak for itself!
“Would prefer a different expression.”
One of the top reasons people leave this note is when a photo subject appears to show negative emotion. Perhaps he looks mean, sad, or irritated.
This note is also used, however, when a person’s expression seems to fall flat and ends up looking tentative or inauthentic.
Changes in facial expressions can be subtle. If you take many photos of yourself smiling, for instance, you’re bound to catch many variations in smiles. Some of these may look like honest, happy smiles. Some of them may look pasted-on. Some of them may even seem slightly uncomfortable or border on a grimace. If a voter on Photofeeler thinks they detect one of the latter, they may leave this note for you.
“Would prefer less skin showing.”
This one sometimes confuses men and women testing dating photos who are showing quite a bit of skin. They think, “What? This is a problem? More like lucky to be you!?”
The predominant reason people in the dating category use this note is to say that that the person comes across very forward, and it makes them feel a bit untrusting or suspicious. (If they routinely share such sexy photos with strangers, will they be faithful to me in a relationship?) So keep that in mind the next time you receive this one.
“I think they seem a bit young in this photo.”
For a LinkedIn photo, notes about looking “young” are meant to encourage the photo subject to dress or carry themselves with greater maturity in order to convey status or experience.
When referencing a dating photo, this note usually refers to the discomfort someone feels when looking at a much younger person as a potential mate. (An adult woman would be wary of dating a teenage boy, for instance, as this is typically socially taboo or illegal.) However, it’s often true that the person leaving this note is actually similar in age to the photo subject.
If you receive many notes like this, consider that your expression may be coming across as naive or that the styles you’re wearing — like clothing or hairstyle — might be making you look much younger than you are.
Anyway, that concludes our translations of common notes, at least for now. I hope that this helps you make even better use of your results on Photofeeler!
Photofeeler is a tool for testing profile pics, as seen in Time, Forbes, The Today Show, and more. Know for certain how you’re coming across in your business, social, and dating pictures. It’s free to use here.