How to like yourself in photos

Dear Scott: I look horrible in pictures. I am not bad looking, and have been told so by many people, but I hate how I look in a photo. Everyone says that they like my hair, but it always looks like it’s a funny color in photographs, and I wonder if it’s my hair that I don’t like. I am getting married in a few months, and I don’t like any of the portraits. My hair color is okay but I still don’t like any of them. Any suggestions?


Answer: We are our own worst critic. Most people haven’t ever seen themselves as they actually look. The reverse image you see in a mirror is not really how you appear to the rest of the world. What sounds like an inane and obvious natural fact of physics, can become frustrating when trying to pick out something as important as your wedding portrait.

When you see yourself in a photo, instead of a three dimensional image from a mirror, everything is opposite of what you have been looking at in mirrors everywhere, for your entire life. Two dimensional features can seem to be exaggerated, balance and symmetry can appear odd and unnatural to you.

One way to see what you “really” look like is to take two mirrors, and place them together at right angles. The reflections bounce off each other to reveal the image the rest of the world sees.

Although it is a cool idea to be able to see what other people see when they look at you, when offered for retail sale, the design becomes expensive to remove the seam in the glass, and bulky for everyday use.

For the most part, people that don’t photograph well are the ones that start saying, “I don’t take a good photograph”, over and over again, the minute a camera comes out. Their face tightens up, stress becomes evident, weird smiles try to happen, eyebrows start twitching, and an overall uneasiness is written all over the face. How in the world, could anyone photograph well with all that going on? If this is the case, try to relax as much as possible, and sing a little song to yourself, “I’m so pretty, oh so pretty.”

If your hair is alright in the professional photos, then your hair color is fine. Lighting is a major factor when hair color is captured on film. Just as hair can appear different colors in different lighting, so shall it on film, in a non professional setting. I would not recommend any radical changes before the wedding for the sake of the photograph.

You could also ask the photographer to flip the photo horizontally, for the mirror image, to see if you like the results better.

Scott Terwilliger, an Aiken salon owner, can be reached at