Not Photogenic?: What Being Photogenic Means, How It Works

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What does photogenic mean?

Being photogenic means looking good in pictures. (e.g. “Her dog is so photogenic!”; “My LinkedIn and Tinder pics suck because I’m not photogenic.”)

But if you look ugly in pictures, doesn’t that mean you’re ugly in real life too?

photogenic ugly pictures vs real life

Nope. A lot of people assume they must look the same in pictures and in person, but that’s a myth.

Few people are actually ugly. Most people fall around average-looking. However, it’s very common for average-looking or even beautiful people to look bad in particular pictures.

Pictures do not “tell the truth.” Our brains are wired to see things slightly differently in person vs. looking at pictures, so it turns out pictures are much harsher than real life — meaning they over-emphasize flaws.

Also, depending on the camera angle and how close the lens is to you, cameras can distort your features so – for instance – your nose or arm looks bigger than it really is.

Pictures can also catch you in action, capturing a split-second ugly expression that no one would have ever noticed in person.

In fact, according to research out of Princeton, it’s possible to look like an entirely different person from one picture to the next.

Are some people born photogenic?

Yes, in that there are some characteristics that naturally photograph better.

People with highly angular faces (sharp cheekbones, square jaw, etc.) naturally look good in pictures because these shapes capture light well. This is as opposed to rounder faces, which the light bounces off of in all directions.

It’s not that people with angular faces are always better-looking. It’s just that they have an easier time getting good pictures of themselves.

It should be noted that lots of professional models have rounder faces (like Chrissy Teigen) and still manage to be extremely photogenic. Which leads us to the next question:

Can you become photogenic?

Yes, you can look more attractive in pictures through learning and practice.

So if you’ve been asking yourself Why do I look bad in pictures, the answer is because you haven’t practiced.

Here’s great proof of this: Women are, as a whole, more photogenic than men, but also women statistically have softer, rounder facial features than men.

This means that men would be the more photogenic ones if we were only accounting for the way people are born. But because women are culturally conditioned to take more pictures of themselves, more women than men have the skill.

How to stop taking bad selfies forever

photogenic stop taking bad selfies

How to be photogenic all the time.

1. Knowledge

Learn about what looks good and what looks bad in selfies and other photos.

Here’s some articles to get you started:

2. Practice

Knowing what to do is just the start. Unless you practice, you’ll never do the right thing when the cameras come out.

Practice ensures that you’re correctly following the techniques. It also builds muscle memory so you don’t have to think about it when the moment comes.

3. Feedback

Finally, when you think you’ve mastered some basic techniques, you need to get feedback from someone else about how you look.

You might be tempted to skip this step, but it’s important because research shows we’re very bad at seeing pictures of ourselves objectively. Your friends and family – believe it or not – can’t see them entirely objectively either.

For example, you might look at a photo of yourself and think you nailed a sexy face. And your best friend might think so too. But a stranger might look at the same photo and think you actually look mean or arrogant.

If you’re very serious about increasing your photogenicness, consider having your pics rated in a safe space online. See: The “Rate My Photo” App for Classy People.

Beyond simply looking good in pictures

photogenic beyond looking good

Most people who ask how they can be more photogenic just want to look attractive, as opposed to bad or ugly, in selfies and other pictures taken of them.

But there’s actually more to looking good in pictures than just looking… well, good.

For example, on LinkedIn, you want to look smart and accomplished.

Here’s more traits you may want to shoot for and how to achieve them:

Need help becoming photogenic?

Start testing your pics on Photofeeler to get feedback about how you’re coming across in business, social, or dating pictures.


Go to Photofeeler.com now and give it a try!