One of my best friends in high school used to make weird faces in every single photo we took, and we took a lot of photos. Even in the group photos from homecoming and prom, she would be making crazy faces. I asked her about it once, and she said she did it because didn’t like the way she looked in photos when she just smiled. That was crazy to me, because I thought she had a beautiful smile.

I don’t think of myself as someone with a poor self-image, but sometimes I’ll see a photo that should have been great, but it’ll sort of shock me. I’ll be surprised by the way my body seems to be shaped, or the way my hair falls, or some other imperfection that I wish I’d never known about but dearly want to get rid of immediately.

However, in the few times that I have had myself photographed by a professional, I’ve rarely had that experience. I’m still me. It’s still the same body, the same hair, the same person in the photograph, but professional photos make me see myself differently and in a more positive light.

Tagged photos don’t equate to real-life.

In a time when anyone can have their phone at the ready and take a less-than-flattering photo of you, it’s important to know that those quick phone snapshots aren’t always (and aren’t usually) an accurate depiction of yourself.

You could argue that non-professional photos quickly taken on a phone are a more honest representation of who you are in your real-life world and, at times, that can be true. But more often than not, hastily-snapped candid shots don’t really capture what you actually look like in person. You move. You’re alive and fluid. People who are with you see you in the fullness of life. Phone photos tend to be zoomed in, poorly framed, have bad lighting and harsh angles, and they freeze you in a faux “reality” of the picture.

self love

Investing in professional photos is an investment in yourself.

Professional photographers, on the other hand, are paid to worry about all of that. Yes, the photos might be taken with you standing in a particular way or in some particular light, but the point of all this artifice is to create a picture that reflects those best qualities that people do see when they’re with you. Professional photographs aren’t lying about the way you look. They’re artistically trying to represent you-in-the-motion-of-life in a still image.

If you are thinking: well, that’s nice but who can afford professional photographs on a whim? I hear you, but there are beginner photographers sprouting up all the time, who are eager to make deals in order to build up their portfolios. Ask your friends or search through Instagram for photographers in your area that would be willing to work with you. To be able to look back on photos and view yourself accurately—as the beauty that you are—is a worthwhile venture.

Recently I did a lifestyle shoot with a photographer so I could have some portfolio photos to pull from for my writing. I was amazed at how natural and beautiful the finished photos of me looked. A good photographer can make an awkward subject look like a seasoned model.

Professional photographs aren’t lying about the way you look. They’re artistically trying to represent you-in-the-motion-of-life in a still image.

The journey to liking your photos can start out small.

Maybe instead of waiting for someone to take photos of you with their phone or professional camera, you try taking photos of yourself. On your terms. Learn how to love yourself from every angle. Figure out what smile or lack of smile you think you look best with. Instead of continuing to cringe when you see photos of yourself, learn how to best represent yourself in front of the camera.

Once you have figured out what your best angles are, you can then feel more confident when having your photograph taken. Instead of resorting to making funny faces or hiding when the camera comes out, you can know how to embrace and appreciate it, knowing that you will be satisfied with the photos taken of you.

As you build an inventory of professional or personal photos where you feel good about yourself, you’ll be able to see yourself in the beautiful light that others do already. You can own and love every part of yourself. It’s not about becoming vain; it’s about embracing how lovely you truly are.

Do you have a hard time with yourself in photos? How have you learned to think differently about them?

Images via Jaicee Morgan

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4 comments

  1. Thanks!! Felt weird googling ” how to stop hating photos of yourself” …but I was virtually in tears when I saw some published after I attended an event. Agree with you. Weird and uncomfortable looking- yes And zero of my personality captured. Had already considered building up my own collection of ‘decent: photos but now also considering the professional route.. thanks again, reassuring that it’s not just me!!! xx

    1. I knooow..a similar sitiuation happened to me recently…and I just cant get over how I look awkward in the picture compared to the rest and it’s seriously disturbing me. What’s worse is that I’m pretty sure that I actually looked way better in real life that day. I keep thinking of all the people who are gonna be looking at the pic and how their minds will register me naturally, in a certain way. I know it’s not a big deal but for some reason I’m finding it really hard to get over it. Maybe cuz it was kind of a big event and alot of people are probably gonna see the photo.

  2. I’m constantly hiding from my friend’s cameras. This is a great post. Thank you!
    – Sarah

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