I’m just not photogenic… or am I?  

What’s really going on in a photograph? When we see an image of ourselves, we don’t see past it. We just see it as something perhaps we like or we don’t. If it’s one you like, great! But if it’s not, it can be part of a subconscious downward spiral to constant disappointment – leading you to believe you are not photogenic. 

There are different reasons we do or don’t like an image.

But our decision will be based on a judgement about ourselves. Understanding a bit more of what’s happening in a photograph can be essential to helping you improve any dislike of an image. Not to necessarily like it, but to realise why it didn’t turn out so well – this doesn’t mean you are not photogenic!

A photograph captures a split second in time.

It brings together many elements. That single moment is all important to how you view the results. Let me expand on this slightly. We are producing expressions that are uniquely us, all the time, depending on where and who we are with. Because a photograph is of a single moment, it’s a skilled person who observes and captures you in an image that you will love. Not because you are a difficult subject, but because they know what it takes to capture that moment.

I’ve separated reasons into five main points and explained some of what was going on:

  • Photographer responsibility.
  • Technical issues.
  • Masking.
  • Comparing ourselves.
  • Judging ourselves

Photographer responsibility.

This was the topic of two earlier blogs – do take a read – Photographer responsibility Part 1Photographer responsibility Part 2. It could give you more insight. Who was taking the photograph? If you were captured either off-guard, or unexpectedly, perhaps the photographer wasn’t focusing on capturing you at your best, or, they didn’t know how to. Perhaps they didn’t consider how you were feeling.

Technical issues.

This was touched on in the last blog – again take a read – Using Phone Cameras and Filters – it could be helpful. 

Don’t forget about the distortion that happens, if either you or someone else was capturing you on a phone camera. The camera may have been too low, or from a less than flattering angle.

The light was maybe harsh and unforgiving, perhaps because of bright midday sunlight, or, overhead artificial light. As I mentioned in the blog, people now assume that their phones will do it all for them. 


You’re requested to be in a photograph and beginning to feel anxious and uncomfortable and your stomach churns. You could also feel distracted and not know how to stand/sit/look and added to that you are not being guided. There’s no hiding at the back and you would rather not be there. So at best you grin and bear it, or put on a ‘mask’ to just get through. Tension, anxiety and feeling highly uneasy is going to show through.

These three points ARE NOT YOUR FAULT

But no-one else gives any consideration to this and leaves you berating yourself for taking a far from acceptable image, on the assumption it’s your responsibility – well it’s not! 

The next two are deeply personal and individual.

Comparing ourselves to others.

Looking good in an image is actually not a competition, but many measure it this way. Social media and advertising pile on the pressure, causing us to think we should look like something/someone else. In reality, whether you can achieve it or not is another thing. We are lead to believe that if we buy a particular product, or have a particular treatment, we can! All to follow a particular trend and fit in with our peer group.

Judging ourselves.

I was recently chatting to a lady at an event about ‘Love Your Image’. She quite matter-of-fact announced that a particular lady (nearby) was beautiful and she (herself) was not. It was that black and white to her. How we see ourselves is of course deeply personal. Negative self judgement can be so ingrained, it’s barely a conscious thought or action anymore, as we do it so regularly. It has truly become a habit… a bad one. We’ve taught our brains, with our life experiences and values to automatically think that way.

So that’s the negatives covered – but all is not lost.


Everyone can take a good photograph, yes everyone.

I once had a photograph taken to record quite a big achievement – I’d just cycled 100 miles in a day. I’d spent 3 months preparing and getting fit enough. It was a shot taken on a phone, (not mine), quite close up, so lots of distortion. I was also exhausted… it showed! 🙁  But the image doesn’t bother me, because I understand what was behind it.

I’ve shared an example to illustrate one of the above points – which point do you think these come under?

Group of people un-prepared for their photograph.

What’s going on in a photograph – this shows a group of people un-prepared for their photograph.


Happy group of people all smiling to camera

What’s going on in a photograph – a group all looking a lot more comfortable in front of the camera.

These two photographs are a perfect example of two moments in time, taken seconds apart – I remember them well, as I was there! As you can see, every single person in the group had no idea the photograph was being taken in the first image. The second is a much more pleasing image with everyone focusing towards the camera.

Do you relate to any of the points raised in this blog?

Did you know you can learn to get past all of these things? 

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