As a personal brand photographer, I get to peek into a lot of peoples’ personal psyches…

One thing comes up consistently…self-perception.

My clients, almost without fail, dig into their image to find all of their perceived faults. I think it’s something that most humans do. I’m not talking about more serious issues like body dysmorphia, this is the more normal “I don’t like how my ear sticks out” or “I hate my wonky nose”.

It could be down to the impossibly high standards that we see in magazines. We see highly edited images everywhere that create something often barely resembling the original…. like this amazing video by Dove (don’t Dove do such brilliant work on self-esteem?)

But I’m not sure whether that is the whole or real story; many of my clients aren’t necessarily influenced by this artificial view of beauty. So for a while, my theory has been the issue comes from the fact that few of us are blessed with a perfectly symmetrical face; when we see a photo of ourselves it highlights the fact that we look quite different from the person we see in the mirror each day. My research online seems to support this theory.

The ability to take selfies makes the problem worse. Many of today’s smartphones reverse the image, thus reinforcing our mirrored self-perception. While a mirror image photo of you feels more congruent with the ‘you’ you see in the mirror, it has exactly the opposite effect on everyone else. Using a selfie with a reversed image may make you feel better. It will have an adverse effect on everyone else because you won’t quite look like the person everyone sees.

This was proven in a study by Mita, Dermer & Knight in 1977. They put a female undergraduate in a room with a close female friend. They showed them both two photos of the subject; one photo was a mirror image of the other. The friend preferred the normal photo of the person, whereas the subject preferred the photo that had been mirrored.

When we see photographs of other people, do we dive in and start criticising their sticky-out ears? I know I don’t… I see the person I know (full disclosure: as a photographer I’ll probably critique the photo but not the person).

Have you ever decided not to work with someone because they have a wonky nose? Me neither.

You may have seen me write previously about the mere-exposure effect (Robert Zajonc 1968); how we get to like things/people the more we see them. This demonstrates it’s so important to be visible in your marketing. If you feel uncomfortable with seeing photos of yourself it’s equally important to see photos of you to get you more familiar with how others see you.

So for all of you reading this that hate seeing photos of yourself; take comfort from the fact it’s a fairly normal feeling, but also be conscious that like you, most people who see photographs of others don’t start to pick fault with sticky-out ears or wonky noses. Getting comfortable with being photographed and being visible is really good for your business.

Are you overcritical of your flaws?

Are they stopping you from being more visible?

I help camera-shy business owners ignore their flaws and be more visible so they can win more business.

Book a call with me now so that I can show you how you can achieve that.


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