Apropos to the season in more ways than one, Chrys Stevenson has a post defending selfies in which she makes the point:
That first selfie was a bit of a revelation to me. I had thought of myself as unphotogenic – an impression reinforced by the toe-curlingly embarrassing insistence of people posting and tagging photos of me on Facebook without ever considering how fucking awful I looked.
To which I want to say a huge yes, this.
This is the ugly truth of it: it’s not that you’re unattractive. It’s that people are fucking awful at taking photos.
This occurred to me a few months ago, when I happened to have an occasion to take some photos of a friend of mine. This guy is not a bad looking guy, and yet I remember he’s lamented to me on previous occasions that he hates photos of himself, because he always looks awful. He backed this assertion up with evidence which, yes. Those were some pretty awkward photos, I couldn’t deny it.
And yet, I don’t think I manage to take a single bad photo of him in my own time behind the camera. (Not even a fancy camera, at that; just my iPhone.)
People laugh at me when I take photos. I’m that person who will kneel down or stand on boxes or at weird angles to get a decent shot. It’s not that I’m some Pro Awesome Photographer or anything; I’m not. It’s just that I care about other people’s self-image. As someone who’s also cursed with extreme Badphotoitis–I find tooth-flashing smiles really awkward, for one thing–I see taking photos of other people as like unto being entrusted with something very precious. Because it is; they’re trusting me with a piece of their own self-esteem, no matter how small.
Good photos make people feel good about themselves, and, if I’m taking a photo of someone, that’s the feeling I want them to have when they see the shot. And decent photos are a skill; framing, lighting, angle, pose, expression. All that stuff. It isn’t easy to get right, but it matters trying.
A lot of people don’t realise that, I think. At least not consciously in quite that way. Hence the millions upon millions of bad photos out there.