Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you use photos to show the ideal you or as documentation?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) July 25th, 2012

Or to open it up a bit, what do you expect from photos of yourself? Do you use them to present your best side? Is it like a kind of marketing? Or do you use them to show the real you at some given moment, not worrying about whether it makes you look good or not? Or is there some other use to which you want to put your pictures?

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10 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

I’m relatively attractive (at least I hope I’m not a total ogre), but I look terrible in most photos. In my family I am the photo-taker, not the model LOL.

I don’t really put myself out there in photos much, as you can see by my avatar.

athenasgriffin's avatar

Best side, definitely. It is considered slightly cruel if you put up a picture of someone looking bad in my world. Friends don’t let friends look bad on Facebook.

But, at the same time, I have many pictures on Facebook that aren’t the most flattering because they remind me of truly good moments in my life. If I have to choose between a picture that makes me look like a model and one in which I am openly and completely happy, I’ll pick the one in which my happiness shines through.

ETpro's avatar

I don’t take many. But I am preparing to do a video for YouTube to illustrate the various motions I use doing a HeavyHands workout. I’ve tried to find ones already done, but they are wimpy beyond belief. Guys using 3 pound or 5 pound dumbbells and barely swinging them. I use 15 pound dumbbells and end up swinging them through a full circle from mid thigh to straight overhead.

I’ve finally decided I have to do it myself. This will be crude and raw and definitely not cutsey poses. You know how people look during a peak aerobic workout when they hit their maximum heart rate. I’ll be huffing and puffing. My muscles will be pumped, but the face will show the strain.

Kardamom's avatar

@ETpro You must share this video with us!

ETpro's avatar

@Kardamom Be delighted to do so.

Earthgirl's avatar

@ETpro The video sounds like it will be a special case of making you look good whilst showing you not “looking good” :)

I keep unflattering pictures of myself around sometimes but stored away in a box. They aren’t the pictures I would post or show to anyone but I keep them to remember a moment that I have no other way of holding onto. Like my journals which contain some good writing and some horrible writing my picture box is a mixed up mess.

I wouldn’t post unflattering pictures of myself on Facebook, who would? When someone else posts a bad one of me I don’t take it as malicious. I think I’m more self critical so I find the picture unattractive and they do not. I read some statistics from a survey in which 2/5 of those surveyed had purposely posted unflattering pictures of their friends on Facebook in retaliation for bad pics that had been posted of them.

I hate the term marketing in reference to people. I find it to be dehumanizing. They often use this term when talking about job hunting..“You have to market youirself.” Damn, I hate the whole notion. I understand what is meant by the term and don’t disagree with it. I understand the need for it but I do think “packaging ” yourself as if you are a thing and not a person is off putting to me. I’m a realist so I do it but I look at it as presenting myself. I don’t market myself.

I use photos of myself to remember how I looked objectively vs how I remember myself looking. But mostly I use them for keeping memories of people places and times that are gone. Now that my father is deceased when I look at my wedding photos I love the one where we are looking in each other’s eyes because he has that certain look that I remember on his face. You can see the love between us. If the picture captures a special time it doesn’t really matter to me if it is flattering but of course I like it more if it is!

Shippy's avatar

I seem to look quite glamorous in photographs and this is why I love this question. For years, I have trolled the net and from time to time have handed out a photograph of myself. I got many compliments and many people having crushes on me. I think over time I got better at making myself appear even more glamorous in a photograph and this was even before I learned to used photo shop.

I learned this from these photographs. What you present yourself to be, you will draw in like for like. I seemed glamorous but in reality I was going through various hells. What I really needed were friends, not fans or admirers. I also just needed to be accepted for me, warts and all.

I still have and do take glamorous photos, but nower days, I leave the wrinkles and double chins (loll) because 9 times out of ten, if I connect with a person we will meet on cam. And by the same ratio I will be in my PJ’s with my hair standing on end. I would like them, to like me, the girl in the PJ’s . I like people now to see past what I look like, because that is so small a part of me. And no, I am no raving beauty, but I can take glamorous photographs!!

wundayatta's avatar

Like you, @Shippy, I too would prefer to be accepted and loved no matter what I look like, or as I think of it, despite how I look. But throughout my life, I figured that my looks weren’t going to attract anyone, so I better find some other way to do it. I have found a few loves in my life, but I do think it was my personality they were mainly attracted to.

I think I would have liked to be a hunk. It would perhaps have been easier to have women just want me for no reason other than how I looked. But that never happened—at least, not that anyone ever told me. The next best thing—almost like doing no work, although it did involve a lot of work—was to have women be attracted to me because of the things I said in writing. That’s a rush, for sure.

But because of my feeling about how I looked, which may have been inaccurate, I never felt like a “good” picture was much of an option. All pictures would show my “warts” such as they were. So for me, given that it wasn’t an option to find a picture that showed me looking any better than any other picture, it didn’t seem to matter.

Now, I am excluding pictures that show weird expressions, or like when your eyes are closed or your mouth wide open and you are sticking out your tongue. I mean pictures with a natural expression vs pictures where you are posing, typically with a forced smile. Perhaps that was another issue for me. If I force a smile, it looks forced. So my natural expression, even if it looks sour, is probably a better representation of me than when I smile.

So I think of those natural expressioned pictures as me looking like myself. But what do I know? Maybe when I’m forcing a smile, I look more like myself. But it is my preference to see myself doing things without being aware of the camera. Then one can look beyond what I look like to what I am, I think. Looking good isn’t really an option for me, or it wasn’t, I believed, for most of my life. So looking natural was the best way to look good.

But perhaps this is an aesthetic, since I prefer to see other people looking natural, as well. Pictures of models where they are posed to look natural are more appealing to me. I prefer candid shots of people doing things to posed shots of people looking at the camera. Oddly, when people pose, I find that deadening, whereas candid shots show life. I don’t like artifice, although I am perfectly aware that there can be much artifice in appearing natural.

I agree with @Earthgirl that marketing yourself is an exercise in dehumanization. But it is interesting to me that when I dehumanize myself, I can separate myself, the product, from myself the self. And when I separate myself out as a product, I can be extremely confident and I can sell the shit out of myself and do well. Shit. I can do anything when I am not myself.

However, when I am myself, my whole self, then I can’t do a sales job. I can’t separate the good from the bad and only focus on the good. I can’t talk myself up. Mostly, I can only criticize myself. I was raised to not brag. I mistrust bragging. So I go out of my way to give as objective an assessment of myself as I can, when it is my whole self I am talking about as opposed to myself as a product I want to sell.

So dehumanizing, it seems to me, is what most people do in business. You have to do it, or no one will hire you. It’s a game of sorts. And understanding that is the only thing that has allowed me to get any kind of decent job at all.

Shippy's avatar

@wundayatta It is a strange thought also, how we always smile? why is that? Perhaps smiling does make us look better, and also perceived in a more positive way. But like you say, we have all sorts of moods, often these are not acceptable. Whether on a face book photo or a group photo, where everybody screams smile. I really look awful when I don’t smile, for some reason, so I do smile. But lately I have had teeth issues and my one front tooth is discoloring so even my smile is fading loll. I have no idea, but I had a good giggle over that!!!

wundayatta's avatar

With other apes, the baring of teeth is a sign of aggression. But for humans, it makes us seem more peaceful and friendly. Is that just cultural? Is there some reason why this conformation of the face is interpreted as it is?

I think a smile is traditionally more important for women then men. Again, I don’t know if that is cultural or biological, but women seem to sell themselves more on beauty, whereas men sell themselves on strength or intelligence or ability to protect others. I guess being able to look somewhat strong or even threatening is part of that, so smiling may not be such a sign of strength for men as it is for women. Strength in the sense of desirability, not the physical sense.

Yet beauty is increasingly important for all of us, no matter what our gender is. Discolored teeth are seen to be a problem. So are warts and limps and crooked faces. People seem to have difficulty seeing beyond looks to the real capabilities of a person. Why is that? Why do we think looks are such a good proxy measure for the worth of a person?

Scarily, studies show that attractiveness is correlated with intelligence. Perhaps it is also correlated with strength. The whole idea makes me want to blow my brains out, but there it is. You can’t argue with facts. But why? Why? Why would good looking people be smarter and more capable? Is it cultural or is it real? You have no idea how badly I want it to be cultural. We think pretty people are smart because we want to and because we just respond better to them, not because they are objectively smarter.

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