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Here’s why you look like a thumb in selfies (and three ways to fix it today)

Remember the meme of that kid that looked like a thumb that caused viral hilarity on the interwebs several years ago?

This was a person whose plight I FULLY empathised with. I’ve always looked like a thumb when I’ve switched that selfie mode on my phone. No amount of angling down or up or tilting my head seems to do anything for my face, and I boiled it down to the conclusion that I just thought I was better looking in my head that I actually was IRL, and that I was horrendously unphotogenic.

I was destined to be the person who looked awful in photos – hey, you saw the photos I sent you last week, right? Not even my husband could make me look nice.

Honestly, for YEARS I hated photos of myself, and it is actually much more stressful than you realise, because over the last couple of decades, having your photo taken has been more and more common.

Everyone has a powerful camera at their fingertips, ready to document the fuck out of shit, from their meals to their bowel movements (true story: I once had an ex who used to swap photos of his morning shits with his housemate, and on nights out, they would bluetooth it to random people in the pub – before the days that you had to accept a bluetooth connection request. How we lasted 11 months is frightening. I would also like to state that I was not his housemate.)

Facebook became a “thing” when I was in my mid-20s, so I escaped lightly, but there were still some photos of me that just looked… awful. But, when I’d checked myself out in the mirror before I’d left? I mean, I felt pretty good, the mirror-version of me was looking decent, what gives?

So, I started doing several things

a) avoiding the camera where possible, b) using other people as my shield, c) only allowing my photo to be taken when HIDEOUSLY DRUNK and thus not caring until the next day, and d) immediately gurning, because if the picture was going to look shit anyway, I might as well go all-in on that vibe.

The next day, I’d wake to a few tags in photos, none of them wildly appealing if I’m honest, like this one taken on my hen do (yes, I’m even gurning in the photo of me ON THE TOP I’M WEARING. META AF).

Sure, I couldn’t totally escape the odd marauding friends’ phone, or when my dad bought a proper camera about 10 years ago. But there’s one type of photo you will RARELY see me in, and that’s a selfie.

I refused to believe I was the only one that felt like that selfie mode was some kind of personal attack on my self-esteem, and I set to figure out WHY.

It’s science that makes you look cack in selfies

Damn and blast that pesky science *shakes fist*, BUT I’ve broken it all down here, with three quick fixes to go from gurn to grin, so you don’t need to be scared of your phone camera anymore.

1. Your phone camera is a wide-angle lens.

That might not mean a lot to you, but essentially, your phone lens is designed to grab as MUCH of the environment as possible.

However, in order to see the entire frame captured on your phone screen, the image creates a kind of fish-eye effect, even if ever so slightly.

So, let’s say you’re in the middle of the photo, your nose will look bigger and more pronounced, but the extremities of your face curve back into the background.

As soon as you start using a camera with a specific portrait lens, a lens with a narrow focal length, this starts to change significantly.

The best way to explain this effect is to see it, and this gif by Dan Vojtech (via Peta Pixel) shows just how drastic that change is. Dan photographed his subject using a selection different lens focal lengths. The photos taken on a lens with a focal length of 20 – 24mm? That’s about where your phone is. The sweet spot? Somewhere around 100mm.

via GIPHY

There’s a couple of ways to solve this in a selfie: first, hold your phone *just* above your eyeline, frame your face in the top two-thirds of the screen, and tilt the phone angle down ever so slightly. Next, once you’ve taken your photo, you can check out my IGTV all about how to correct lens distortion. Works on everything from flatlays to portraits, and I use it on all of my professional work.

2. You’re too used to what you see in the mirror.

You know when you leave post in one place all the time to sort through later, and that later becomes weeks or months later, and it’s gets to the point you know it’s there, but you can just easily ignore it?

That’s what happens with us when we look in the mirror.

You and I both know that our faces aren’t symmetrical, but it’s easy to get used to seeing our faces when the only way we see them is in the mirror.

As soon as we see ourselves in a photo, as everyone else sees us, it’s a bit of a shock; “My nose tilts to one side! my face is about a foot wider on the left! How hasn’t anyone pointed this out to me?!” You forget that everyone is used to seeing your face this way round, and unless it’s a deeply unflattering grimace, you probably look totally fine.

To counteract the unbalanced face, you need to figure out your best side – and it’s normally your left.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can always remember to move your face to take photos from that side, instead of front-on, which is flattering for only the lucky few, especially when you’re working with a wide-angle selfie lens. 

4. You’re not smiling properly

There’s a special kind of name for a genuine smile; It’s called a “Duchenne Smile” (Yeah, I didn’t realise it either until I found it on Wikipedia ).

Whenever I work with clients, my main focus is on making them feel relaxed, so that they stop doing this 😬 and start doing this 😄 (or this 😁. Or even this 😂).

Basically, if you rock up to your selfie camera (or professional photoshoot) with The Fear, you’re going to grimace. To smile naturally, you need to imagine that feeling when you see a really good chum, and all you talk about is That Holiday, and knob gags.

A natural smile is one that also uses the muscles around your eyes as well as around your mouth, but it’s much easier to feel a natural smile before you try to force it. So imagine something or someone that makes you feel happy, and imagine you’re smiling at that (or at them).

I promise you, these little tips will up your selfie game.

And if all else fails, there’s always a Snapchat filter?

 

PS. My Uncorporate Portrait Session Day is BACK on Friday 15th November.

I’ve booked some amazing space in the centre of Bristol with gorgeous big-ass windows (check out the pictures below, because I MEAN, LOOK). You get a style questionnaire, a personalised image mood board, 45 minutes of top banter with me as I shoot you in the face with my camera, and your choice of 10 full-resolution edited images for £225 (going up £50 to £275 next Tuesday 15th Oct) OR with ALL the images for £275 (rising £100 to £375 on Tues 15th Oct). Email me NOW if you want to book or find out more – I always encourage a coffee meeting if you want to get to know me first because, well, hot beverages are life, and it’s very important that you figure out if I’m the right photographer for you.


Katy Henson Social Media and Facebook Ads Expert

 

Online business shit I can do without

Online business shit I can do without

I’m a-gonna rant lyrical for a few minutes here, so please bear with me. I would say usual programming will recommence, but consisering I have no usual programming schedule, you might just have to get used to my slightly rant-filled posts.

I’ve been working on the online space now for 6 years. Long enough to get to know a lot of trends in the industry, and long enough to know who and what to avoid, and the fact you won’t earn 6 figures while you curl out a monster turd in the bog. But the frightening shitness of how women are marketed to (AND how they’re marketing) is preposterous. Starting with (but certainly not ending with)…

The Ridiculous feminising of names

Ohhhh, I get it. You’re a mother AND an entrepreneur, so yeah, mumpreneur. And ohhhh, you’re heart-centred and you lead with your soul, so that makes you a heart-centred soulpreneur. And of course, you’re the boss AND a lady – a ladyboss! Oh how quaint! What are the odds!?

Look, I’m calling SEVERAL PILES OF HORSESHIT ON THIS. Let’s take “mumpreneur” as a starter-for-ten. You’re an entrepreneur who happens to be a mum. BUT being a mum has no impact on your ability to have a business – and I’m not talking about the juggling of kids and family with the day-to-day running of a business (relatively-to-really-fucking-hard), but to have a business in the UK at least starts with a) a decision that you want to run a business and b) filling in a few forms (pretty easy).

Women without kids are what? Maidenpreneurs? Nonmumpreneurs?? NOT -ONE-PERSON-HAS-ENTERED-THE-WORLD-THROUGH-MY-VAGINAL-PASSAGEPRENEUR?!?!?!! Why stop at kids – heck I’m a MARRIEDPRENEUR! That’s totally a fucking thing,right?

And those heart-centred fempreneurs? Uh, sounds like a wank-focused shitpreneur name to me. How you run your business doesn’t dictate that you can run one.

Look, if you were employed in a job, does that make you a “femployee”?! I don’t fucking think so.

The word is “entrepreneur”. Men don’t call themselves “dadpreneurs” or “manpreneurs” or “manboss” or “dick-centred cockpreneurs” because firstly, weird, and secondly the fact that they’re fathers or men or are in possession of a penis has no bearing on the fact that they can run a business.

The fact you identify as a female (and let’s not pretend this is more of a middle-class, white, cisgender trend), or have given birth (and deal with intricacies of running a business and raising kids), or are soulful or spiritual have no bearing on how enterprising you are. Why do we need to make special little soft girly names for non-gender-specific roles? It sounds like the term “entrepreneur” is a cisgender white “man’s” thing, in the same way blue is a “boy’s” colour. WHICH IS A COMMON-OR-GARDEN BAG OF DICKS.

You’re an entrepreneur, or a business owner, or a boss. Gender has nothing to do with it.

Ahhh, that feels better now.

Here’s a picture of a leaf shaped like a heart. You’re welcome.

What I dun on my weekend: Autumn flava and a dead squirrel.

What I dun on my weekend: Autumn flava and a dead squirrel.

Well, now it’s technically gone and done an Autumn *gumble grumble where was the Summer please grumble arse grumble*.

I don’t really mind the idea of Autumn – all cosying up with #cinnamonlatte and fairisle socks while you hug a few pumpkins next to a radiator and hide from children doing the annual sweet collection dressed as skeletons and witches. But the days of everlasting greyness plus the diminishing daylight, all multplied by never knowing what the fuck to wear because will it rain??? Will the sunshine be kind?? Is the scarf overkill??? Was this jacket too light?? WHY DID I NOT WEAR THERMAL LEGGINGS?!?! Ugh.

I find Autumn quite melancholic, although necessary. I used to really enjoy September with everything feeling quite “new school term!” and the fresher temperature, but that’s changed in the past few years because I love the Summer, and we don’t really get a proper one in the UK, so I feel like I’m mourning the death of a season that only half showed up, the fickle fucker. I’ve only had my Summer duvet on for about five fucking minutes, and it looks like I’ll be changing it back up to the chunky mutha sooner rather than later.

I’m an Autumn baby, too, so I feel I should LOVE this time of year. But while most posts you see or read on the subject of Autumn are all “LOOK AT MY GINGERBREAD MAN PYJAMAS/HOT CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!/OOOOOH IT’S NEARLY C-WORD (LOL LOL LOL I DIDN’T SAY IT BUT LOL CAN I PUT MY TREE UP YET LOL)”, I’m all “CAN I PUT THE FUCKING HEATING ON YET?!?!/YORKSHIRE GOLD OR GTFO/WHO LEFT THE GATE OPEN AT THE C-WORD FARM BECAUSE THEIR APPEAR TO BE FUCKING CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS IN THE SHOPS ALREADY”

This weekend was the start of the Autumn, and I’m trying to make sure that I spend as much of my weekend outside as possible.

We hit up Oldbury Park in Fishponds on Saturday, threw some pooh sticks, flew a kite (badly) and went for a long stroll. Unfortunately, we also saw a squirrel murdered by two Lurchers. We all froze to the spot with mouths agape, Noemi included, while these two dogs cornered the creature and ripped it to shreds. It all happened so quickly and it was squeaking while the owner tried to extricate it from his dogs’ mouths. Sooo, yeah. That happened.

But, y’know, otherwise a lovely day…

On Sunday, we ventured out of Bristol to Marlborough. A couple of years ago my family and I moved from Southampton to Bristol. I didn’t really gel with Southampton, but loved the friends we’d made there, so we like to try and meet up with them relatively regularly, especially when they do things like, y’know, create brand new humans together. Cute babies, pub lunch, ridiculously changeable weather, and a walk around Avebury stone circle before tea and cake. Because tea. And cake.

Despite the fact I’m a bit of a grumpy bitch about the whole “Autumn” shenanigans, this weekend suited me fine.