How to like yourself more in photos
Many people don’t like having their photo taken because they don’t like their appearance in photos. So when it comes to documentary family photography, where you’re photographed just as you are, without posing or guidance from your photographer, and where your image is not edited to remove blemishes or smooth out skin, you might think you won’t like yourself enough in your photos.
I understand where you’re coming from and I have a solution for you to like yourself more. It’s based on psychology.
But before I dive into the subject, I want to remind you that documentary photography doesn’t mean ugly. It’s just an approach to the art of photography.
When I photograph people without directing them, I still pay attention to many details to create impactful and beautiful photos worthy of hanging up on the walls and passing down from generation to generation.
Why don’t we like photos of ourselves?
There are a few psychological reasons why we don’t like photos of ourselves. I’ll focus on one because I feel it can be applied to documentary family photography. You can read more about the other ones in this great article written by a fellow photographer.
The mere exposure effect
There was a time when my kids would hide under the table because they didn’t want to eat their broccoli. Today, it’s one of their favourite vegetables and there’s a reason for that.
My kids were picky eaters when they were babies. It was so discouraging at times! We followed various recommendations like:
- Make it fun;
- Limit snacks between meals to make sure they’re hungry enough come meal time;
- Keep presenting the food to your child. Kids sometimes need to be exposed 10 times to a certain food before they try or like it.
That’s what the mere exposure effect is all about—the more you’re exposed to something, the more you tend to like it because you’re familiar with it.
So what does this have to do with why you don’t like yourself in photos?
Think of how and where you look at yourself most of the time—in the mirror!
You see a front view of yourself, so you’re not used to your profile or other angles of your face and body. And you don’t notice the details you see when you take the time to look at a photograph.
Plus, you’re used to seeing a mirrored version of yourself—not the real, unflipped version everybody else sees.
Tip to like yourself more in photos
I always move or hide my lips when I’m concentrating on a task. My husband points it out to me once in a while by saying “suck those lips!”
I used to think it looked weird when I saw photos of myself doing that. But now that I’ve seen quite a few of them, I like them because they’re a good representation of who I am.
So, here’s my tip. For the next little while, stay away from selfies and filters and ask someone to take casual photos of you without looking at the camera. Do this many times. Ask them to take photos of you in action or interacting with loved ones, from any angle and perspective they want.
If that’s not possible, put your camera or phone up on a tripod, a pile of books or a makeshift tripod, and set the timer. It’s even better if you have a remote control or if you can set the interval meter in your camera.
Again, take tons of photos and then look at them often for a short period of time.
Of course, you’ll hate some of them! There will be some where the shutter went down at the wrong time. And some of your features might take a little longer for you to appreciate.
Give it some time. Keep the photos—maybe not all of them, but enough!—and come back to them later. What you hate now might eventually be something you enjoy about yourself.
The most important thing to consider
Keep in mind that you’re your worst critic. Others don’t see you the way you do and they don’t pay attention to your newfound wrinkles, pointy nose, or that vein on your forehead.
They enjoy your company and love you for who you are.
This is especially true of your children. They don’t care about your looks. You’re their hero, their first love. They don’t know about the devastating beauty standards established by our society.
Lead the way and teach them about self-love to help them grow into confident adults.
By existing in your family photos and having photos of the special connection you have with each other, you’ll realize how priceless they are.
Your children will thank you for giving them the gift of being in photos of your daily activities. After all, you’re the most important person in their entire universe!
Not sure what type of photography is right for you?
I'm Marie-Pierre, an easygoing mother of two and a documentary family photographer. I believe we can all learn and grow from other people's experiences. Real life stories help us relate to each other, open our minds and feel better about ourselves.
this blog is a collection of featured client stories, tips, and articles on various family related topics. I hope you will find some inspiration!