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Why Don’t I Look Good in Selfies?

two girls taking a selfie

Wake up, get dressed, feel particularly good, run around the house taking selfies, delete all the selfies, rinse, repeat. It’s a cycle that we have all been caught in at least once before, whether we care to admit it or not. It’s no surprise that, when we’re feeling our best, we want to seize upon the opportunity to get a good shot for our social media – or just our own good vibes – but, if it doesn’t work (and it so often doesn’t work) it’s a real bummer.

The fact that it’s ‘not just you’ should come as good news. There are a few very good reasons why selfies are so much harder than they seem like they’re going to be, but they’re also an important thing for many of us. They’re the perfect pick-me-up for the Instagram feed, and a great way of celebrating yourself (and your unique look) in your next Instagram photo book

So, whether you need a practical guide for your next ‘selfie sesh’, or just want some concrete reasons why it didn’t work out for you this morning, here’s our trouble-shooting guide to selfie woes. 

Front-Facing Cameras are Not Flattering

While, let’s face it, the front-facing camera was literally made for selfies, it turns out that it’s really not the best thing you could be using to get some post-worthy shots of your face. 

This is because the lens is very short. It automatically makes our faces (and all our facial features) look different. As a result, everything can look distorted. Our noses can look longer, our eyes can look narrower and closer together, and our faces can look a lot more sloped – like our ears are twice as far back from our temples. 

In other words, there’s a big difference between the way you look in the mirror and the way you look in a selfie camera. A great, simple test is to take an un-staged, straight-faced selfie with the front camera, and another (in the same lighting and position) with the back camera. You’ll be amazed at the difference, even though nothing else in the photo has changed.

The good news? It’s not you – it’s the camera. Try using the rear camera next time, or a real DSLR camera. And, as you start to curate an excellent collection of self-portraits, turn them into something beautiful with our photo book maker.  

Your Lighting is Probably Less-Than-ideal 

If you’ve ever seen a behind-the-scenes photograph of those big fashion shoots they do for the magazines, then you’ll know quite how much effort they put into managing the lighting. Big, bright lights diffused behind giant, white umbrellas – white boards to rebound that light onto the models’ faces – it’s a whole show. 

We’re not saying you need to get that setup into your house just to get a good selfie, but that lighting really does matter – even if the photographer is willing to do a ton of editing after the shoot, as they do for the magazines. 

Natural lighting is almost always best, but avoid harsh sunlight, which will cause you to scrunch up your face and get unflattering shadows – particularly under your nose. A lot of people tend to wait for golden hour, or invest in a ring light with warm tones – a great alternative to the elusive ‘ideal lighting conditions’. 

Are You Too Close to the Camera? 

This one is tricky but, even with your rear-facing camera, being too close can easily cause some unwanted distortions. It’s another reason why what you’re seeing in the mirror is very different to what you’re seeing on the screen. 

Of course, you’re pretty limited on this front, since the length of your arm will determine how far away the camera will get. Try putting your phone on a timer and sitting it on a surface a couple of feet away from you. Then, try your best to act naturally, because…

You May Be Acting Unnaturally 

It’s something a lot of us experience – a widespread tensing sensation when the camera is on our face. Suddenly, our faces go into all sorts of unnatural expressions – expressions we don’t usually pull at ourselves when we’re getting ready in the mirror. 

There’s no easy cure for this, and even models sometimes struggle to shake off that tension. If you struggle to know what to do with your face and body, then take a look at these selfie ideas for inspiration. You don’t need to do anything crazy, but it can help to figure out a new approach, and to feel comfortable in your own (beautiful) skin.   


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