Why do you look better in the mirror than in photos?

If you take many photos and use your house mirror very often, you’ve probably noticed a strange phenomenon. Your mirror “tells” you that you look pretty. After that, you grab your phone, snap a selfie for your Instagram account and then BOOM––you’re completely different! Why does this happen? Is it true that our mirrors lie to us? Hell, even your smartphone could be lying too. Well, drop the ball for a second. What if we told you that your eyes, your smartphone, and your mirror are all lying? If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

That’s why you look different when taking a selfie in the mirror versus taking an ordinary selfie. The mirror and the camera lens are pretty different, and in this article, we’ll talk about this strange phenomenon that happens to all of us. 

Very quickly skimming over the obvious first 7 points:

  • You don’t know how to pose.
  • You don’t know how to dress appropriately for your body shape.
  • You don’t know which colours are best for your skin tone.
  • You haven’t found your best face and body angles. 
  • The lighting is incorrect.
  • The camera’s wrong positioning; Different lenses and positioning of the camera in proportion to you will make you look entirely different. That’s why often 50mm angles are the choice for portrait photography, as this lens makes people look smashing.
  • What camera is used and no––best quality isn’t always the best. Sometimes with crappy cameras, the quality is a bit grainy, and we like that as it hides imperfections, and the high-quality cameras can bring every detail to life.

Then we get into the psychological effects of why you might not like what you look like. And this is going to blow your mind:

  • Mere exposure effect: people react to things better when they are exposed to them more often. 
  • You’re not used to seeing the side of your head.
  • The mirror is a flipped reflection of reality, so you’re not used to seeing yourself that way.
  • In the mirror, you give yourself immediate feedback, and you adjust your face to suit how you like yourself. You can’t tweak photos like that – you look better when you’re moving.
  • Filters are altering the way we see ourselves. A quick swipe on Instagram regularly will mean you start viewing yourself that way instead of the original. The more you use filters, then watch back your stories, the less you’ll be used to what the original snap looked like, and it’s all downhill from there. 
  • Research shows most people think they are more attractive than they are.

The mirror is flipping us.

We see when we’re looking at ourselves in a mirror is not reality — the reflection in the mirror is a reversed version of the way we look. And since we look in the mirror every day, we’re very used to this flipped version. It’s called the mere effect. So if you don’t see yourself too often in photographs, you don’t know what you look like, so it’s okay to be a bit shocked. Choosing the right wedding photographer in Melbourne to capture every moment on your wedding day.

Immediate control

When looking in the mirror, we have complete and instant control. If we don’t like the angle, we react right away by tweaking our face and correcting our posture and facial expression to form a more pleasing appearance. When it comes to photographs, we mostly see ourselves only after the pic is taken. Here, posing tricks can help. It’s also good to know your strong and weak sides and your best angles.

Lighting matters

Why do you look better in the mirror than in photos?

Our brains work in a way that we don’t notice lighting differences when we look into the mirror because our brains automatically even it out and show us the display of our face close to what we’re used to seeing. A camera doesn’t work this way and instead captures all the tones and shadows objectively and plays a massive role in taking a pic. As photographers say, “The light can either make it or break it!”

Our faces are asymmetrical.

Nobody has a symmetrical face. Try flipping parts of your face and compare them — they’re probably really different. We’re used to looking at ourselves from one or a few particular angles, and we often think that one side of the face is the same as the other. That’s why we feel like it’s an entirely different person when we see the final shot and probably feel less attractive.

The environment puts pressure on you.

As researcher Nolan Feeney explained, we’re usually looking in the mirror when we’re either at home or at least in a safe environment. As for photographs, it’s expected that we look more tense and tight. We make big eyes to not blink and stretch our lips into a fake smile or duck face. Because pics mostly end up on social media, we feel lots of pressure to look a certain way.

Try to feel more relaxed on camera; it always looks better in the end. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.

We only see specific details in the mirror.

Looking in the mirror, we usually focus on a particular part of our face, like our lips, nose, eyes, etc., and we don’t realise how it looks all together. On the other hand, when looking at a pic, we perceive everything at once and judge the whole performance: our posture, facial expression, and anything else we don’t usually pay attention to. So again, self-exploring might help you feel more confident in front of the camera.

We think we’re more attractive than we are.

Research from the University of Chicago revealed that people tend to think they look better than they are. For this study, researchers selected pics of participants and processed them into better and worse looking versions. Then participants were asked to find the original photos, and most of them failed, choosing pics where they were more attractive.

We Expect Mirror-Like Image

During our childhood, smartphones didn’t exist. And those phones that we had, had an ordinary VGA camera which wasn’t even good at the direct sunlight, and the selfie was something that we didn’t know of. When we wanted to look at ourselves, we would always use a mirror, which isn’t always the case today. We see that many girls who do their makeup usually use their front camera on the smartphone and do the necessary job. You need to understand that people got used to mirrors, and they expect the selfie to be of the same quality, which is a damn good way to disappoint yourself.

It’s About the Camera and the Lens

Have you heard about the famous anecdote that says that a camera adds ten pounds? If so, we can tell you that it’s partially true. This anecdote came from when we had old televisions, in which displays were curved to a certain degree. Due to this curvature, various distorting effects result in a slightly different perspective on your look. Thus we see the actors with 10+ pounds of body weight. Unfortunately, this trend can be applied to both photo and video.

The camera sensors might look like they’re absorbing the image the same way as the human eye. You lift your smartphone, you see that the sensor sees the image as you do, and then you snap a photo. But, the camera has one crucial component that drastically changes its perspective – the lens. Since there are different types of lenses, every lens sees the image differently. Everything from simply P&S, mirrorless or behemoth-like DSLR cameras uses some tricks to alter the image’s perspective. Since we can use ultra-wide lenses, zoom or telephoto lenses, you can look vastly different for every given case.

Let’s use the wide-angle lens as our example. As its name implies, this lens is used for capturing an image at a wide-angle. Since the field of view is wide, it’s drastically wider than your eyes, and this lens is excellent for capturing some landscape. To get the effect right, a wide lens takes advantage of the fisheye effect, which tends to stretch the subjects. In this case, it’s not too noticeable but can make you look slightly different. The same applies to the ultra-wide lenses, making subjects near the lens huge, while those that are somewhat further are very small.

What about the telephoto lens, then? This lens is great for capturing some beautiful wildlife and moving subjects, but it has a flattening effect. If you have a big nose, it may appear flattened, which is good. But, if you have big breasts and you want to show them a bit, that might be some bad news! The mirror doesn’t have any of these features, and that’s why it offers a different perspective. Sure, there are zoom mirrors, but we don’t suggest getting them. By zooming in, you can see more details which you might not like.

The camera flash also makes a huge difference. Sometimes, a moment can be of enormous help, but sometimes, it can make you look even worse. Some say that the camera flash adds seven years to your face, making you look shiny. That’s why natural lighting is always better than second.

If you’re asking yourself why we’re mentioning these lenses and not smartphone cameras, it’s because smartphone cameras nowadays come with multiple lenses. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

It’s About YOU!

The chances that you hate your face on the selfie shots are very high. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that you also hate your voice on the telephone. When it comes to the mirror, you’re somewhat limited, and you can’t pose properly. To see yourself in the mirror, you have to face it, and as soon as you turn around, you don’t see yourself. On top of that, you always look at your body from above, which gives the illusion of broad and round shoulders, as well as a slimmer figure. That’s why you seem so beautiful in the mirror compared to your smartphone selfie.

Why Do I Look Better in a Mirror Than I Do in Pictures?

Why do you look better in the mirror than in photos?

You might not notice it, but we automatically pose in a way that we look better when standing in front of the mirror. Our heads unconsciously turn at the right angle to see all the best facial features, which isn’t the case in your smartphone camera. With a slight tilt of the head, you can hide that annoying zit on your face or eye bags that are bothering you. But, as we mentioned, your photographer or camera lens don’t see this version of you. The understanding that your photographer sees is vastly different, and hiding those “weak” spots isn’t as easy as twisting your head a bit when looking in the mirror.

That’s not always a negative effect. If your photographer knows how to position himself, a camera lens could also have a positive impact. It can make you prettier and slimmer than you are, which is a positive thing to behold.

So, why is that? Why do your friends think you look fine in pictures when you feel you just don’t look the best. And why is it that we can look fine in a mirror, but when you take a picture, something doesn’t seem right? 

To understand this first, we need to know what you see in a mirror when you see yourself. 

What Do We See in a Mirror?

Without getting into too much physics or any technical jargon, what we see in a mirror is an image of ourselves made up of light rays that have been reflected from the mirror into our eyes. 

If we stand facing a mirror facing directly back at us, we will see a reflection of ourselves that is reversed on the horizontal plane, but the same from top to bottom(you’re the right way up). So if you move your left hand to your left, your reflection will be moving its right hand to its right – everything is flipped horizontally. 

This is also why you can’t read a book in a mirror because all the text is reversed. 

Bear in mind that we are ignoring different types of surfaces like the curved surface of a spoon. We are just considering the standard flat mirror that you might have at home on doors, cupboards and walls etc.  At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day.

What Do You See in a Picture from a Camera?

In a picture of yourself, the image is not mirrored. If we ignore other aspects like lenses and lighting and just focus on the image dimensions and proportions, a camera will capture what your friends and family see daily. 

So if you have a scar on your right cheek, then the image of you should show a spot on your right cheek. 

Do I Look Like The Mirror Reflection Or Camera Picture? Which Is More Accurate?

So now that you know that your image is reversed from side to side in a mirror. Which is more accurate? 

Well, this depends on who you ask. If you consider yourself, what you see in the mirror is probably the most accurate image of you because it is what you see every day – unless you see yourself in photos more than in mirrors. 

On the other hand, all of your friends and family will be used to seeing you in real life, which is a version of you that isn’t mirrored. Since they see you in this way most of the time, what you see in pictures is the most accurate interpretation. 

But how does this explain that feeling of not looking as good on camera?

Why Do I Look Worse on Camera?

A reason that you feel as though you don’t look as attractive on camera is to do with what we explained above. Since you are used to seeing yourself in a mirror, you are used to a different image of yourself than what you see in a picture from a camera. 

This phenomenon can be described by the mere-exposure effect, where we prefer things that we are used to. Otherwise known as the familiarity principle, this effect means that the more familiar something is to us, the more we take a liking to it. 

Your reflection is an example of the above. You are more used to seeing your reflection in a mirror than seeing yourself in pictures unless you have thousands of images of yourself and don’t have any mirrors. 

On the other hand, if you consider your friends suggesting you look fine in a picture, it could be because you look just as you usually do to them. But if they looked in a mirror, they might think that you don’t look your best (but hopefully they wouldn’t say that!) This is because they would see a mirrored image of you which they wouldn’t usually see as much.

To sum it up, sometimes you don’t feel like you look as good on camera because something isn’t right, and that is because, in your mind’s eye, something isn’t right. You are seeing a version of yourself that you are not used to seeing in the mirror. 

How Can I Look the Same in a Mirror and Pictures?

The only way you could look the same in a mirror and pictures is if you were completely symmetrical. Unfortunately, nobody is entirely symmetrical. Just get out there and take photos of yourself and know that your friends and family think you look fine and try not to worry too much. You look fine! (to everyone else). If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

To end it all, we’re all meant to be unique and different. A world full of cookie-cutter pictures (aka most Instagrams online) is boring, and you can probably vouch for yourself. Instagram is just the same old shit, and it’s getting pretty lame. To back yourself and fall in love with your unique beauty and work that, with confidence, it stops people in their tracks.