The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-27-2009, 01:59 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Do some people just not photograph well? If so, why?

I have a friend who is, by all accounts by those who have seen her in person, extremely beautiful. However, almost every photograph of her makes her look very unattractive, so much so that third parties who see them tend to comment on how funny-looking or unattractive she is. My friend is aware of this phenomenon and can't seem to explain it.

I'm wondering if there is some reason why such a beautiful a person can appear so consistently unattractive in photos. Certainly almost everyone can occasionally end up looking a bit strange in photos (especially if they're candid snaps taken at an awkward moment) but with my friend this seems to happen with unusual regularity. Is this a result of confirmation bias on my part, or is it possible there could be something inherent about someone which makes them totally unsuitable to non-professional photography? Is it possible that someone's facial structure doesn't properly make the transition from 3D to 2D? If so, why?

(I'll start this off in GQ as there may be some factual answers here, but if the discussion degenerates into mindless speculation and anecdotes maybe a moderator will move it to IMHO or MPSIMS.)
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 12-27-2009, 02:15 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
I don't know if this applies to the situation you have, but it is a common thing in photography. Some women, with fine, fair hair, distributed over their face and body, look very beautiful -- under correct lighting and photographic conditions. For example, Marylin Monroe. The theory is this fine sparse hair functions as "light pipes", something like fiber optics, to give the complexion a sort of glow. But you have to illuminate it correctly, and photographic properly, otherwise, I've just described a slightly hairy woman, which isn't nearly as flattering.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-27-2009, 02:20 PM
constanze constanze is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Are those photos done by professional photographs with expensive correct equipment? The lighting umbrella alone makes a huge difference in how a person looks.

The second big difference is: how comfortable does the person feel? A good portrait photographer must be able to make the person feel completely relaxed, which is difficult in a study when you know that you have only 15 min. till the next appointment. A lot of people freeze with a deer in the headlight look when being photographed, and if all their past pictures turned out badly, they will already anticipate another bad set.

The only solution I could see would be to find an expert photographer where his personality /charm/ manner makes her feel at ease - which is going to be a long journey.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-27-2009, 02:26 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
constanze, these are all amateur photos, posed or candid, taken in homes, parks, restaurants, etc. Now, I know that it's very easy for amateurs to screw up a photo, and certainly some of the bad photos in question are due to bad lighting, bad camera settings, etc. But there are some group photos were it seems everyone looks fine except for my friend.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-27-2009, 02:56 PM
chaoticbear chaoticbear is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
How is her posture? I have a fairly prominent brow, and if my head is angled down, my eyes get lost. Maybe not ugly, exactly, but tilting my head up a little bit makes it look much better.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-27-2009, 02:59 PM
Dandmb50 Dandmb50 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
I'll take 300 pictures and maybe ONE PICTURE will turn out well. It happens and the more you take the chances are better you will get the shot you want. I am not a professional by any means but I love it and always have.
__________________
I'm not conceited, I'm convinced!

Daniel .. Toronto, CANADA
http://bit.ly/bKGa13
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-27-2009, 03:02 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Jinan, China
Posts: 7,688
The camera loves faces with high cheekbones. Some very attractive people don't have them and thus don't photograph well. Any young lady will tell you that Trent Reznor is handsome and James Carville is not, but Carville photographs really well and Reznor does not. Cheekbones.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-27-2009, 03:13 PM
Kelby Kelby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Maybe her personality, which is part of the beauty that you see, does not come through in pictures?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-27-2009, 03:15 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelby View Post
Maybe her personality, which is part of the beauty that you see, does not come through in pictures?
I thought that might be it, but I've heard people who have only seen her (and not heard her speak or interacted with her at all) describe her as beautiful, whereas other people who have only seen her pictures think she's funny-looking or unattractive.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-27-2009, 03:31 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: michigan
Posts: 26,307
An old girl friend got her graduation pictures and wanted to retake them. I asked her why. She thought they did not look good. But they were pictures of her, that is what she looked like . I suggested she get pictures of someone else and just put those in the yearbook. Somehow I did not get it.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-27-2009, 03:48 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
Look at some celebrities, Justin Timberlake is a great example, He can be very attractive, OK looking or ugly depending on HOW he is being photographed. He definately has a good and bad side.

Some people are like that.

I know one guy with the opposite problem, he looks a lot better in photographs than in person.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-27-2009, 04:02 PM
The wind of my soul The wind of my soul is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
***Please note that this is just speculation, not a factual answer.***

I've noticed that people who photograph poorly often have an unusual smile. Either their lower lip protrudes down further than is normally the case, or their lower lip doesn't go down as much as it should. Finally, some people's smiles make their eyes exceptionally squinty, which also looks unattractive. Do you have any pictures of your friend not smiling? Does she look any more attractive in those pictures?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-27-2009, 04:40 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
I thought that might be it, but I've heard people who have only seen her (and not heard her speak or interacted with her at all) describe her as beautiful, whereas other people who have only seen her pictures think she's funny-looking or unattractive.
But they've seen her move, right? They've seen her smile? That's personality, too.

Some people are very animated - always moving, always reacting, always responding to their environment. Freeze them in time and they can be quite ordinary, but in motion, they're beautiful.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-27-2009, 05:32 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
In a recent Straight Dope column on how cameras seem to add 10 pounds, Cecil explains that
Quote:
The main difference between a camera's view of the world and yours is that the camera has a single "eye" whereas you have two. That subtly changes the way things look.
It's just as you postulated, many faces look great in 3D, but in 2D they look wrong. You can see where a face curves back around, but the camera just makes it all look like one plane. It seems to me that the less angular (or the more regular) the face is in the spherical sense (if you understand what I'm trying to describe), the better it photographs. One of my daughters has a wide, flat-ish face which looks gorgeous in person, but in some photos looks really odd. My husband has a broad forehead which looks totally normal in person, but in photos looks like it's exploding.

In 8th grade, I was friends with a girl who was one of the homelier girls in class. Her eyes were way too close set, her face was flat, her hair was frizz, and she also was maybe 15 pounds overweight. Near the end of the year, she told me she did modeling. I didn't believe her, so she showed me the current issue of Seventeen magazine, where she was in 3 different ads. I could hardly tell it was her. And this was decades before Photoshop.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-27-2009, 05:58 PM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
I have two friends who are identical twins. They look very much alike, even to people who know them well. But in photographs, they look totally different. One looks confident, relaxed, and like himself. The other always looks goofy and ill at ease.

I attribute this to the first twin being a good poser, and the second one being bad at it. He seizes up, forces his face into a smile that he seems to think is attractive, and ends up looking like a dork. He looks somewhat better in candid shots where he didn't know he was being photographed.

Maybe it has something to do with that kind of effect?
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 12-27-2009, 06:13 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Jinan, China
Posts: 7,688
I worked with a woman once who, in person, looked quite ordinary. But you couldn't take a bad picture of her. The nose and brow that were so prominent on her flattened out and disappeared in photos, and her, um, mustache (thick but light hair) just turned invisible. Weird.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 12-27-2009, 06:44 PM
Auntbeast Auntbeast is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Hence, photogenic. To say I was a homely child is an understatement. However, I've rarely ever had a bad picture taken. Don't believe me? Every drivers license I had until the Georgia DMV did in a perfect record, every single one was fantastic. I have a pretty angular face and while I'm not symmetrical, that is usually the benchmark for pretty.

My mother has rarely ever had a decent photo taken, although our faces are very similar. She is exceedingly self-conscious at times and if there is a camera aimed at her, she freezes up.

Ever see that Friends episode about Chandler taking bad photos? It isn't far from the truth.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 12-27-2009, 06:57 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 9,960
All my recent photos make me look like a stiff and uncomfortable, somewhat overweight, balding, middle-aged man.

The Wife says that the stiffness is because I really am uncomfortable with having my picture taken and I overcompensate wiht my posing. (I don't know about the rest of you, but I cannot ignore the real possibility that the camera will steal my soul.)
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 12-27-2009, 07:26 PM
Baal Houtham Baal Houtham is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
(I'll start this off in GQ as there may be some factual answers here, but if the discussion degenerates into mindless speculation and anecdotes maybe a moderator will move it to IMHO or MPSIMS.)
Mindless speculation and anecdotes, here. I was organizing some old files last week and came across a session of would-be campaign photos for a U.S. senatorial candidate. She was a nice looking woman who photographed horribly.

I've dealt with numerous "blinkers" but she was the queen. Normally I can put people at ease and then fool them with phony 1-2-3 counts, or take the picture in the middle of giving them instructions. Did not work with her.

I even switched to an essentially silent point and shoot camera, and still couldn't get a relaxed face. Maybe three shots out of 50 she wasn't in the process of blinking, and those three weren't good either.

She was mostly a placeholder candidate, selected to run against a popular incumbent, and she got creamed. But if she'd won, it would have been an interesting six years of newspaper pictures.

Beyond that anecdote, some people freeze their faces and focus their gaze in front of the camera lens. That doesn't work. Or if they're looking off camera they seem disturbed at what they're looking at.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 12-27-2009, 07:27 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
I photograph absolutely awfully (same thing on video.) My boyfriend does video for a living and owns a camera shop and he has completely failed at taking a good picture of me. Everybody says I don't really look like that - I can only hope.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 12-27-2009, 07:43 PM
yabob yabob is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,221
Quote:
Originally Posted by The wind of my soul View Post
***Please note that this is just speculation, not a factual answer.***

I've noticed that people who photograph poorly often have an unusual smile. Either their lower lip protrudes down further than is normally the case, or their lower lip doesn't go down as much as it should. Finally, some people's smiles make their eyes exceptionally squinty, which also looks unattractive. Do you have any pictures of your friend not smiling? Does she look any more attractive in those pictures?
Yeah. I don't smile for a photograph. Mainly because I don't really smile, I smirk. Lopsidedly. Trouble is, I don't have the gravitas to carry off a really serious demeanor in a photograph either.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 12-27-2009, 09:32 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
And here I thought it was just me, that I was all alone in looking like an ugly freak of nature. No good picture of me has been taken since I was a young cutie. Now I'm an older cutie, I can't understand why I look so hideous in every picture taken. I haven't changed THAT much. But there it is - one eye squinty, or a double chin, or I'm blinking, or I look like I've had a stroke. I can't possibly be that ugly. I can't believe people can live with me, I'm so ugly. At least in pictures. Family photos? You'd think Mr. Sali was a single dad!
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 12-27-2009, 10:07 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Some people are very animated - always moving, always reacting, always responding to their environment. Freeze them in time and they can be quite ordinary, but in motion, they're beautiful.
Another vote for this.

I can vividly remember a couple of instances where I've approached / been introduced to someone that I thought looked OK...until they started speaking at which point I became mesmerised.
And I'm not talking about personality, per se, I just mean the way their face moved. Probably something about the muscles of the face and/or the way they use them (maybe in a few years they'll be an Abdominizer for the face ).

Also I'd say photography is a great leveller in terms of height and skin tone and probably other attributes I can't think of right now
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 12-27-2009, 11:25 PM
aerodave aerodave is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,619
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baal Houtham View Post
I've dealt with numerous "blinkers" but she was the queen. Normally I can put people at ease and then fool them with phony 1-2-3 counts, or take the picture in the middle of giving them instructions. Did not work with her.

I even switched to an essentially silent point and shoot camera, and still couldn't get a relaxed face. Maybe three shots out of 50 she wasn't in the process of blinking, and those three weren't good either.
My experience with "blinkers" like this is when doing flash photography. I don't know if you're talking about using a flash in your anecdote, but that's the normal cause in my experience.

The problem with modern flashes is that they typically emit a quick pre-flash just a fraction of a second before the actual exposure. The purpose of this is to send out a pulse of known brightness and see how much it illuminates the scene. The camera can then quickly figure out how much flash power to use for the actual shot. Point-and-shoots do this, as do the the built-in flashes on SLRs and shoe-mount flash units on SLRs. This is called "through-the-lens flash metering" I shoot Pentax, so this mode is called P-TTL, which works similarly to Canon's E-TTL and Nikon's i-TTL. (Note that this is different from red-eye reduction flash, which provides a different pre-flash with a different delay to constrict the subject's pupils. If a camera uses pre-flash to set the exposure, and red-eye reduction is enabled, a total of three flash pulses will be used when an image is taken.)

So the delay between this exposure-checking pre-flash and the main flash is normally so short that people can't reflexively blink before the picture is taken. but a handful of people out there (my wife, unfortunately, is one) have blink reflexes fast enough to always get caught by the main exposure. In the case of my wife, the only way I can get a good picture of her using flash is to use a shoe-mount flash on one of my SLRs, and to *not* use P-TTL mode because it causes the pre-flash. Instead, I have to set the flash unit to manual and dial in my own flash power, or set it to "Auto" which is different from P-TTL. "Auto" on a modern flash means the flash unit uses its own light sensor to decide how much light to send out, once you tell it what aperture and ISO you're shooting with. Either "Manual" or "Auto" on my flash result in a single pulse being emitted, instead of the pre-flash used in TTL metering.

When I take these steps to make sure that a single flash pulse is used, there's no blinking. The first flash...the one that normally makes neurons react and start closing eyelids...is also the last one, so there's no chance to catch the blink. Unfortunately, this isn't an option with any point-and-shoot cameras I'm aware of, and the pop-up flashes on SLRs have the same limitation: TTL metering only. And because of that, some people will always blink when photographed by the more automatic equipment.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 12-27-2009, 11:41 PM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
I had a coworker in my last job who was jaw-dropping gorgeous. Pictures where he's posing look fine (nowhere near as good as the real thing, but enough to make people go "ooow, who's the cutie?" - I would love to see pics of him taken by a good photographer); in candid pictures he's always goofing off, laughing or making big gestures (which don't look nowhere near as big in 3D), so you'd never believe that he makes rooms silent just by walking in.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 12-28-2009, 02:19 AM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Sometimes bad features just become more pronounced in a photo, at least in my experience. For example, one of my eyes is bigger than the other because of a tiny scar that adds a fold in my eyelid. It's not really noticeable except in certain photos. Then I look like weird, like half of me is falling asleep.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 12-28-2009, 10:23 AM
Baal Houtham Baal Houtham is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerodave View Post
The problem with modern flashes is that they typically emit a quick pre-flash just a fraction of a second before the actual exposure.
My memory isn't perfect, but there's a hair light so it was likely monolights triggered by a synch cord.
-------------------

And regarding the OP, several good explanations have been offered and I'll say there's more than one reason that causes people not to photograph well.

In addition to frozen facial muscles, lack of animation, weird eye focusing points, there are the usual posing and lighting hints that need to be remembered, such as:
--Men usually get shot from chin level and women from eye level
-- Flat lighting makes a face broader, side lighting narrower
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 12-29-2009, 10:53 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
I don't know if this applies to the situation you have, but it is a common thing in photography. Some women, with fine, fair hair, distributed over their face and body, look very beautiful -- under correct lighting and photographic conditions. For example, Marylin Monroe. The theory is this fine sparse hair functions as "light pipes", something like fiber optics, to give the complexion a sort of glow. But you have to illuminate it correctly, and photographic properly, otherwise, I've just described a slightly hairy woman, which isn't nearly as flattering.
Wait, seriously? I've never heard this about Marilyn Monroe. If they removed said hairs would they still be as attractive? (I'm pretty insane about hair removal myself.)
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 12-30-2009, 10:08 AM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Marilyn Monroe would have had fine DARK hairs distributed all over her face, seeing as how she was a natural brunette. I read her choice of hair color was named "Dirty Pillow Slip"!

I still don't know why the image I see in the mirror looks OK, but a snapshot of that image looks like a sub-mental troll! I once posed for one of those sepia photos they take at booths at state fairs, where you dress up as cowboys or bar girls. I put on a hat with feathers, fishnet stockings, and was wearing a mini-skirt bustier, perched on a bar, but again - a bad picture or am I actually that homely? Mr. Sali was very comforting, though. He pointed out that as I would have been one of the very few women in a town in the old west, I still would have made a ton of money selling my favours, even if I was homely! Thanks, Mr. Sali!
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 12-30-2009, 10:14 AM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
In snapshots with flash, my beautiful blue eyes are almost always glowing with the red of demon possession. I know red eye can be fixed, but since my eyes are probably my best feature, they really don't come across in snapshots. They often look great in studio photos, though.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 12-30-2009, 03:01 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Certainly some people are just not 'photogenic', but I don't have a scientific explanation.

I'm a good-looking girl with good bone structure, and yet due to several causes I look like a goober in 95% of pictures. In the other 5% I look pretty. With proper lighting, the brighter the better, I can look like a movie star (this almost never happens, of course). In black and white I tend to look much better than in color (I never get my picture taken in B+W, though).

In my case, it's that a] I am extremely uncomfortable in front of the camera, and I freeze up, b] I am a very fidgety person, so the chances that a fidget or facial twitch will be captured are high, c] I have very deep-set eyes and sharp cheekbones that can give me a skull-like aspect, d] I have low-contrast coloring (light yellow skin, dark yellow hair, light eyes) and d]I have abnormally large pupils, so with flash I always have red-eye.

All these things combine in hilarious ways. I used to be mortified by bad pictures, but now I just have to laugh.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 12-30-2009, 06:31 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Baltimore or less
Posts: 3,162
To elaborate on the point made by Allesan about 'animated' faces, people can look dramatically different from different angles. An animated person with some 'bad' angles can in person move through them quickly, which doesn't come through in photos. This effect would be more pronounced if you were interacting with that person: when they are addressing you, they would be giving you their 'good' side(s).
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 12-30-2009, 06:57 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
I photograph absolutely awfully (same thing on video.) My boyfriend does video for a living and owns a camera shop and he has completely failed at taking a good picture of me. Everybody says I don't really look like that - I can only hope.
Ditto. I look like Winston Churchill in photos. Blecch.

Someone once told me it's because my face is round. When the camera flattens it out, I look bloated. Also for some reason my eyes always look like I'm staring.

Last edited by NinetyWt; 12-30-2009 at 06:57 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 12-30-2009, 07:44 PM
sweetie pea sweetie pea is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
On a somewhat related note, I have often considered making a hideous face when my photo is taken for my driver's license renewal, the plan being to subvert that funhouse chip in the DMV's camera which makes us all look inbred.







I'm up for renewal in late '11, so I'll let you all know if it works.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 12-30-2009, 09:37 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Okay, everybody who has posted in this thread about how unphotogenic they are must now submit pictures to the SMDB Message Board Photo Gallery so we can all decide for ourselves.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 12-31-2009, 12:32 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
That's no evidence, though, because if you saw my picture you'd just think I was ugly and I have no way to refute it!
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 12-31-2009, 09:28 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
That's no evidence, though, because if you saw my picture you'd just think I was ugly and I have no way to refute it!
Ditto. I cannot find a non-ugly photo of myself that isn't about 15 years old.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 03-24-2010, 01:18 PM
DieLorelei DieLorelei is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
I am the same way; I may take ONE good picture out of thousands, yet my friends, and many others describe me as very beautiful; or gorgeous. For this reason, I can't meet anyone online because they always ask for more pictures, and that scares the hell out of me. I fell crazy in love with a guy from Germany. We emailed each other for almost a year before I got the courage to get a webcam. I will never forget the look of disappointment he had on his face. to this day, the pain of his subtle and snide comments hurt so much. The next day, I took the webcam back, and went to see my friend, Laurie at one of my favourite cosmetic counters. I wanted to buy everything she sold, and when I treid to explain to her waht had happened, I stood there sobbing uncontrollably. She told me, as so many others do, that I am a very beautiful woman, and that I couldn't let that upset me so much. I, myself, can look in the mirror, and see the extreme difference in how I photograph, and how I truly am in person. I, for one, am so very tired of having to explain myself. As to the German guy, I still love him, but I could never face him again, and wish to God I could just show up at his door and make him eat those words, and ask, Now,.......what was that you were saying? Maybe one day I will!! if anyone has any constructive suggestions as to what I can do about my photogenicity dilemna, I welcome them. :-)

Last edited by DieLorelei; 03-24-2010 at 01:22 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 03-24-2010, 01:42 PM
BigT BigT is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
In a recent Straight Dope column on how cameras seem to add 10 pounds, Cecil explains that It's just as you postulated, many faces look great in 3D, but in 2D they look wrong. You can see where a face curves back around, but the camera just makes it all look like one plane. It seems to me that the less angular (or the more regular) the face is in the spherical sense (if you understand what I'm trying to describe), the better it photographs. One of my daughters has a wide, flat-ish face which looks gorgeous in person, but in some photos looks really odd. My husband has a broad forehead which looks totally normal in person, but in photos looks like it's exploding.

In 8th grade, I was friends with a girl who was one of the homelier girls in class. Her eyes were way too close set, her face was flat, her hair was frizz, and she also was maybe 15 pounds overweight. Near the end of the year, she told me she did modeling. I didn't believe her, so she showed me the current issue of Seventeen magazine, where she was in 3 different ads. I could hardly tell it was her. And this was decades before Photoshop.
I noticed a similar difference just yesterday. I was watching the Dick Van Dyke show, and the start looks quite photogenic. At the end credits, thoh, they have the most unflattering picture of him. My hypothesis was that, when we see him moving around, we get an idea of how he looks in 3D.

I wonder if any of you guys look better in video, too.

One of the banes of dating online was discovering this disparity, BTW. It's the reason I don't give "Myspace photos" such a bad time, as they might just be making up for what the camera lost.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 03-25-2010, 08:58 AM
BwanaBob BwanaBob is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: New York & Maryland
Posts: 3,515
People hate their own pictures because they are seeing a flipped image from that which they always see in a mirror. Any bit of asymmetry stands out.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 03-25-2010, 09:28 AM
control-z control-z is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
I usually look drunk when photographed. Usually because I'm blinking at the worst possible time and am not good at smiling on demand.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 03-25-2010, 09:56 AM
CC CC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: not elsewhere
Posts: 3,803
forced smiles, harsh shadows

The problem with pictures of my wife is that because she's now keenly aware that she's NOT photogenic, she tries extra hard. And that just results in an even worse forced smile. Which looks even goofier. The best pictures of her are candids.
One other technical problem arises with lighting and wrinkles. She's got plenty of wrinkles, but in the soft lighting of everyday rooms, it isn't really noticeable. What you notice is her pretty blue eyes and her generally pleasant demeanor. Turn on the flash, the wrinkles become prominent, and she's ready to throw out every picture taken. And I agree, they're not very flattering.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 03-25-2010, 10:10 AM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
I had a friend of mine that I couldn't get a good picture of. She always tenses up when the camera is pointed at her. The only good shot I ever got of her with a film camera was after her first baby was born. I don't think she was worried as much about how she looked that day.

With digital cameras it is easier. Just try a lot of f-stops and shutter speeds and angles and throw away the bad ones. A lot of minor problems can be fixed in the photo editing also. I also find that portraits work better if you back off and zoom in.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 03-25-2010, 06:25 PM
MaddyStrut MaddyStrut is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
I have two friends who are identical twins. They look very much alike, even to people who know them well. But in photographs, they look totally different. One looks confident, relaxed, and like himself. The other always looks goofy and ill at ease.

I attribute this to the first twin being a good poser, and the second one being bad at it. He seizes up, forces his face into a smile that he seems to think is attractive, and ends up looking like a dork. He looks somewhat better in candid shots where he didn't know he was being photographed.

Maybe it has something to do with that kind of effect?
My nephew has the same problem as you unphotogenic twin: he gets incredibly stiff in front of a camera. The result is a strained looking fact with a sneer or grimace rather than a smile.

I remember getting photos taken years ago by a professional portrait photographer. She was constantly telling me "relax your jaw," "soften your eyes," "relax your lips," etc. After seeing the results, I could tell that even slight tension in some areas really affected how attractive I looked in the photo. My nephew does the opposite of all those instructions. Really. The poor kid looks more like he's taking a difficult dump than smiling!
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 03-25-2010, 08:37 PM
matt_mcl matt_mcl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
The problem with pictures of my wife is that because she's now keenly aware that she's NOT photogenic, she tries extra hard. And that just results in an even worse forced smile. Which looks even goofier. The best pictures of her are candids.
I think I'm the same way: I stress about having my picture taken, and I don't think I look good in my pictures at all. Well, hardly ever.

Side note: I will often complain about photographing badly, and then have someone try to compliment me, "Oh, no, you don't photograph badly at all!" as if encouraging me to have better self-esteem. This is weird because believing I photograph badly is having better self-esteem, since the alternative is to believe (which I don't) that I photograph just fine and I'm actually that fugly in real life.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 03-25-2010, 08:49 PM
berff berff is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaddyStrut View Post
My nephew has the same problem as you unphotogenic twin: he gets incredibly stiff in front of a camera. The result is a strained looking fact with a sneer or grimace rather than a smile.

I remember getting photos taken years ago by a professional portrait photographer. She was constantly telling me "relax your jaw," "soften your eyes," "relax your lips," etc. After seeing the results, I could tell that even slight tension in some areas really affected how attractive I looked in the photo. My nephew does the opposite of all those instructions. Really. The poor kid looks more like he's taking a difficult dump than smiling!
I think I've learned to improve my smile over the last couple of years, not only in front of the camera but in real life. In the past, I used to pretty much use my whole face to smile while now I mostly use just my upper cheek muscles and let them lift up the rest of my face a little. After 32 years, it was tough to retrain myself on smiling but I think I look better now in pictures when I don't use all my facial muscles. I think my muscles have even slighlty reshaped themselves anyway as I now find it difficult when I try to smile the way I used to.

Before, I never ever used to show any teeth because I looked absolutely awful, but I don't really have a problem with it now. I think the key really is to keep parts of your face relaxed, especially the jaw and eyes.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 03-25-2010, 11:15 PM
Perciful Perciful is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
I am not photogenic and my sister is. She has literally never had a bad picture taken. I think it may have to do with her bone structure. She has high cheekbones and a round face. I am more angular and pictures don't do me justice. I also think that it may be partly technique.

I have no idea because some super models look awful without makeup yet photograph so beautifully?
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 03-25-2010, 11:42 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
Some people have "sides." You know good side versus bad side.

The best example is Justin Timberlake. Look at his photos. He can be very handsome from one angle and really ugly from another.

I am thinking not photographing well is like that.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:02 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.