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6 Reasons Women Hate Seeing Themselves in Photos

6 Reasons Women Hate Seeing Themselves in Photos

It’s no secret that most women cringe at the thought of appearing in front of the camera and often hate seeing themselves in photos. I can almost see you nodding your heads in agreement! And they also remain absolutely convinced that they never look good in photos, and that it’s impossible to take a good picture of them (more nods!) I’ve had this conversation with countless women over the years. Yes, there are some men who don’t like being photographed either; generally speaking, though, men don’t seem to feel as uncomfortable and are fairly sanguine about the whole process.

A Question for You

Now, I would like to ask you a question. When you tell me with absolute certainty, “I never look good in photos”, which photos are you talking about exactly? Because in my experience, the majority of you are making a judgement on how you look based on one of the following, which means you’re doing yourself a huge disservice and are most certainly wrong.

1. The Snap

The good old snapshot. Taken at Christmas, birthday parties, holidays and sundry other causes for celebration. And also the number one reason why so many of us hate seeing ourselves in photos.

I love snapshots of happy moments and I think it’s so important to document the important times in our lives. However, a snap is just that; it’s spontaneous and instant and seldom a masterpiece. So tell me, honestly, who ever looked good under dodgy lighting or while caught unawares by the poolside or in a deckchair? Because that’s how most snaps happen. These photos are being taken by our family, friends and colleagues: they’re not going to stand around forever, faffing with getting the light just right and asking us to pose. Even Victoria Beckham recently asked a fan to retake a snap of the two of them because she wasn’t happy with the way she looked; having been photographed so much, she surely knows a thing or two about what bad lighting can do to one’s appearance.

So don’t make a snap judgement about yourself based on how you look in a snap. It may not win any awards, but if it captures a happy moment, then just remember the good times.

6 Reasons Women Hate Seeing Themselves in Photos
A Snap Versus a Proper Portrait

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2. The Staff Pass

On my first day in a new job, I was made to stand against a wall and have my staff photo taken by the office manager. Nervous and with no time to prepare, I remember blinking like a dazed rabbit in front of the camera. It took about 5 seconds and that one photo (yes, just the one, no retakes allowed) marked my status as an employee. Needless to say, it was hideous and didn’t look like me at all; at least, not the person I recognised as me. It was more like something from a Wanted poster.

3. The Passport Photo

Ah, the dreaded passport photo. It’s not without good reason that people often say “If you look like your passport photo, then you must be ill”. In terms of quality, the passport photo is marginally better than the staff pass photo, but that’s only if you have it done at a high-street studio or photo lab. If you visit one of these, at least you’re being photographed by a human who knows what they’re doing. If you’re in one of those hideous little booths where your disembodied legs are visible to all and sundry, then I’m sorry, it’s not going to be a happy outcome. But whichever option you go for, you’re still not allowed to smile or pose, beyond sitting straight and facing forward; so combined with the flat lighting, your passport photo won’t be brimming over with personality. And the same goes for your driving licence or railcard.

4. The Corporate Headshot

I’ve taken many corporate headshots over the years for big organisations. ┬áThe corporate headshot is something that’s imposed on you; you don’t ask to have it done and so you’re going to feel uncomfortable about the whole process. Its purpose is to create a consistent identity by helping visitors put faces to the names of the company’s most important assets – its staff.

Some organisations can be quite creative with their staff headshots, but it depends on the type of industry you’re in. But either way, how you look and dress at work is very different to how you look and dress when you’re out with friends. So don’t use your corporate headshot as a measurement of your attractiveness! And never, ever get your friends or family to choose one for you; they’ll all say it doesn’t look like you which of course, to them, it doesn’t – they’re more used to seeing a completely different version of you, not the one who goes to the office.

5. The Selfie

And so to the selfie. I have only ever attempted to take a selfie a couple of times, but one thing I can say for certain is that they are not flattering. Looking great in photos requires you to be relaxed; and if you’re not used to posing for a photo, it definitely helps to have an expert on the other side of the lens to direct your pose or chat to you, otherwise you’ll just get the inevitable zombie stare.

Taking a selfie also means contorting yourself into an unnatural position which causes tension in your neck and arm muscles, whilst the fact that your arms aren’t long enough creates odd perspective and the wrong camera angle. And don’t think that a selfie stick will help matters greatly.

6. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

There are two things to be said about mirrors; firstly, they’re very often placed in areas with hideous lighting – think public loos and changing rooms which are often lit with cruel spotlights in the ceiling that give everyone a ghoul-like appearance. Secondly, when you look at yourself in a mirror your image is in reverse, so seeing yourself in a photo could come as a bit of a surprise. “That’s not how I look!” you think, because your reflection is what you’re more familiar with. And yet it’s how everyone else sees you. It’s a bit similar to hearing your voice on a recording – yes, that’s how we really sound to others.

You Are Far More Beautiful Than You Think

So next time you catch yourself thinking “I look awful in that photo”, just remember that it’s got more to do with the quality of the photo than how you really look. Everyone can look amazing in photos, but they don’t happen by accident.

If you want to look like the best version of yourself possible, it takes planning, preparation and expertise. Please don’t start with a selfie and then expect to be elated with the results. Be kinder to yourself by stacking the odds in your favour a little more! All it takes are good light, good outfits and makeup, colours that suit you and someone to bring out the best expressions and poses.

6 Reasons Women Hate Seeing Themselves in Photos
A Quick Snap & a Beautiful Portrait. See Yourself in a Different Light and Realise That You are More Beautiful Than You Think. Sometimes You Just Need to Trust the Experts.

Click here to download my free guide to How to Look Fabulous in Photos

I help women of all ages look fabulous in photos. Whether you need a business headshot that will help you stand out for the right reasons, or a boudoir shoot to reignite your self-esteem, it’s all possible – you just have to believe in yourself and put your trust in the experts. Email me at or call me on 01483 571119.


I am a professional portrait photographer based in Guildford. I offer women a luxury pampering hair, makeup and contemporary portrait session at a discreet location in the centre of Guildford.

My aim is to create stunning images of my clients that will help them to see themselves in a different light.

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