This is purely speculation, but also common sense, really, to me.
I used to tell people, “I take a thousand photos, so hopefully one of them turns out alright.” With years of practice I’ve narrowed it down to maybe 10 or so at a time, and yes 1,000 was hyperbole.
There are some people that always look like themselves in photographs. It seems they simply cannot take a bad photo! If you hate those people, keep reading.
For many people, when they know a photo is coming they get abnormally self aware to the point that they end up making a face that they’d otherwise never make in their lives. When a camera isn’t around, we’re more or less living in the moment, not concerned with our facial expression. But suddenly, there it is! Camera in 1…2… panic! umm.. half smile, don’t squint your eyes, hands behind your back—AHHHH and I blinked. Result: awful photo. Moment ruined. Experience forgotten.
This is why many people can’t act. Sure you can behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances, but put a camera a foot away from your face and all of a sudden you forget how to be human and start thinking about your facial expression instead of viscerally experiencing the moment. You try and indicate what you’re feeling by changing your face accordingly to how you think it should look, and when you try and do that you look totally fake. Why? Because you’re faking it! Facial expressions happen naturally, without thinking about it, which is near impossible for some people to remember when there’s a camera about to snap.
As a former introvert and chronic head case, I’d get anxiety before taking a photo, just knowing it’s going to come out terribly because they always do! I’d always look unnatural because I was making a face, not living in the moment, but I could never understand why they came out so ugly when I’ve been told my whole life I’m “so handsome.” So I stooped to doing extreme smiles and goofy expressions that would mask my self-consciousness. “Yeah it’s a bad photo, but look at how much I don’t care by this moronic expression I chose!” Over the years I’ve gotten over it. And I think I know how you can to..
When posing for a photo, don’t think about how your face looks, think about how you’re feeling.
Think about an interesting emotion (excited, paranoid, skeptical) and FEEL that instead of trying to SHOW it. Maybe even think about particular events or people in your life when the camera gets ready that’ll result in the right expression, have a couple of those you can go to in a moment’s notice and forget the camera is there (despite looking right at it)—Bring out the actor in you just for a snapshot moment (of 15 as we are all so snap happy) and I guarantee your photos will take a turn for the mediocre, as opposed to the god awful. Happy Instagramming!
TL;DR— It’s more about how you feel, not how you look.
TL;DR— It’s all mental. Get out of your head, just for the moment!. If impossible, meditation can help with that.
Imagine a word of phrase that you’re about to say at the camera and just hold it for a moment.
Look at the camera and imagine you’re looking at insert someone you love.
Fantasize about being on vacation, or living your dream job, or driving your dream car, then hold that feeling.
Judge the camera—you like it, but you think it’s up to something.
You don’t always have to smile.
If you know yourself well enough, show your personality by feeling who you are. (wow that’s deep—yeah! If I had a dime..) hey! you’re still reading. that’s very sweet of you.