“Why do I look different in photos?” – Here’s the Answer

why do I look different in photosIt’s a common, tortured lament: “why do I look different in photos?” The short answer: your eyes and the camera are playing tricks on you. Yes, you really do look different in photos, so don’t worry. Brace yourself as we reveal the quirky reasons why you may sometimes fear looking more freaky than photogenic. (P.S. You don’t.)


The camera lens is not the human eye

Camera sensors absorb light through complex lenses that process the world very differently from the human eye. That results in all sorts of weird idiosyncrasies. It’s called lens distortion and it can render your nose, eyes, hips, head, chest, thighs and all the rest of it marginally bigger, smaller, wider or narrower than they really are.

You live in 3D, a photo is 2D

You see the world – and yourself – in three dimensions. A photo is a two-dimensional image. That can further create allusions that are a total misrepresentation of what you actually look like.


Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Have you ever thought about this? The image of yourself that you are conditioned to comes from a mirror. That means you are used to the reversed version of you, while everyone else sees a different side. Is there any wonder you are a little reluctant to accept those photos of you as the real you?

And that’s just the start of the mirror-based trickery…

You are seeing yourself from angles you are not used to

Let’s get real: there’s only really a few ways to see yourself in the mirror. And those poses don’t really translate to the real world.

You are seeing yourself ‘in motion’

Have you ever paused the television and laughed at the facial expressions of your favourite actors and actresses? Those stills are hardly worthy of the red carpet. Your brain processes cumulative motion incredibly well – at warp speed in fact. But when a photo catches you at the wrong moment – between smiling, dancing, speaking, laughing, or anything else – there’s the potential for capturing something seriously odd. Relax: it happens to everyone.

You’re often forcing your expression

Unless you are seriously well practiced, staged photos (“say cheese!”) always look unnatural. You are forcing a facial expression that you would never produce naturally. Some fake smiles look okay. But all fake smiles are fake smiles, and unlikely to look like the real you.

Let yourself shine

The takeaway: don’t panic about looking different in photos. Everyone feels that way and there is no need to worry. A professional photographer can provide you with studio-grade photos that you feel confident with and are happy to put out there. They are aware of how the lens can lie. And they know how to take a photo that shows you in your best light while remaining uniquely natural. Get in touch to see how our professional headshots can help show you the way you see yourself (in your head, not in the mirror!)



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