No Middle Ground

The only person who takes good pictures of me is my sister. The question that has haunted me for years is whether I’m the swollen, drunken, deformed, hideous troll that appears in other people’s photos or the beautiful, elegant woman in the ones my sister takes.

24 thoughts on “No Middle Ground

    1. Thank you but now I’m wondering how my brother-in-law really feels about me. In his pictures I came out looking so nasty it’s actually kind of scary.

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      1. I bet it’s more because he loves your sister so much. You are the opposite of attractive to him, as much as he may like you as a person. So his pictures illustrate that.

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        1. “how you respond to your sister vs. everybody else holding a camera near you”

          I wasn’t gonna go there, but…. thanks for doing it isntead.

          The question is ‘can she distinguish pictures taken by her sister vs other people’ or is her opinion formed knowing who took the picture?

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          1. Ooh, that’s very meta.

            But I know that’s part of what’s going on when I’m being photographed. I don’t like being photographed, so I look a lot better in photos where the person behind the camera is someone I like and trust. Like, Okay, I’m doing this for you because I like you. Like+trust is a very, very small group of people in my life. Anyone else brandishing a camera near me… that makes me grumpy and anxious. And it shows. I don’t know why it also adds fifteen pounds: posture? angle of chin? It is a mystery. Probably a solvable one. I’d also guess that when people I like want a photo of me, I generally suggest going somewhere there’s natural light and they go along with it because I am the acknowledged “good picture taker” of the family and they all think I know what I’m talking about (I’m not so sure!).

            My kids (like, but don’t trust with cameras) take the most horrifying pictures of me! They’re little so they always get the camera pointing up my nose, never use natural light, and they sneak up on me so I look surprised and disconcerted. Like I’m about to start in on “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive…”

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            1. “I look a lot better in photos where the person behind the camera is someone I like and trust”

              I was actually thinking more that if she knows her sister took the picture she’ll think more positively about it (I’m not immune to that kind of thing either).

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  1. I don’t know if everyone takes bad pictures of me or if I’m just much less attractive than I think I am. To be clear, at least part of the problem is bad photography; one time a weird shadow made me look 50 pounds heavier than I actually am and it still ended up being one of the better photos someone has ever taken of me.

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  2. You should post two for comparison and I bet readers could figure out the difference (if there is one).

    One idea right away might be camera height and angle, also the exact direction you’re facing is important.

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      1. I have a similar problem, where when I photograph myself, or when I am asked to pose for photos, I look basically like I think I look. Same person I see in the mirror, and I always look OK (not great). But any time someone takes candid photos of me without warning, I look like a completely different person (uglier, too!).

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  3. I have yet to find ANYONE who can get a picture of me that isn’t hideous. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see someone who looks okay for my age (I’ll be 68 soon) — far from beautiful, but certainly not scary or repulsive. So why does every photograph of me, regardless of who took it, make me look twenty years older and twenty pounds heavier than I am?

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  4. “takes good pictures of me ”

    My bete noire in pictures is smiling. I can just about stand looking at myself in pictures if I’m doing a poker face, but when I try to smile the result is…. (horrible doesn’t begin to describe it).

    A couple of years ago there was a foreign delegation I was supposed to help entertain and I really tried to smile and look pleasant in the group pictures, but…. yikes did it look awful).

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    1. I find the trick is to not try to smile at all, but instead just think of some top-secret in-joke I share with my husband, but can’t ever tell in polite company. Or any company ever. It makes me look generally cheerful without any fakeness.

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      1. ” think of some top-secret in-joke”

        I’ve tried that… and it just results in people screeching “Smile! Not that! SMIIILE!” and results are …. (shakes head)

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        1. Maybe it’s a guy thing. My dad and his brother can’t smile for pictures either. It’s terrifying. They have learned not to. My brother deliberately smiles his scary smile for pics just to mess them up.

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  5. I have a similar issue. I can take a very good selfie, and I only trust my middle son to take pictures of me because they always turn out well. Otherwise, I abhor getting photographed and am mildly (or more than mildly) traumatized by the process. I was photographed a bunch of times by supposedly professional photographers here at the university, and I always look like a fucking garbage troll who has just run out of psychotic meds. One time, a dude came to my group meeting and snapped pics of me and group for half an hour (it was for an award), and the best one (supposedly) made me look like I was biting the head off my poor cowering graduate student (I wasn’t, we were having a perfectly calm discussion of some new data) plus I looked like a demented cow. Husband likes taking candid photos of me, despite the fact (or perhaps because of it) that I hate it so damn much, and unsurprisingly I always look hideous in the pics he takes. It’s really upsetting, honestly. So it’s gonna be selfies for me from now on, or a pic by my middle kid (he does have a keen eye for photography in general, plus I suppose I am relaxed around him). I have vowed never to let anyone else take a pic of me again.

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