what it means if you hate having your picture taken
For those of us who prefer not to be the focus of attention, it used to be so much easier to hide.
This article originally appeared on TONIC
Some people are naturals in front of the camera—I’m not one of them. Whether it’s my parents urging me to get into the middle of a group shot at a birthday party, or my friend roping me into her Snapchat story, I’ve always felt a momentary panic when I’m thrust in front of a camera lens. I cancel FaceTime requests when they pop up on my phone, and I wave off my selfie-obsessed friends when we’re at a show. Often, I can’t stand the way I look and sound when videos are played back to me: I pick out flaws in my posture, the way my clothes fit, how my voice sounds. But I’m also feeling increasingly left out, and I’m afraid I’ll one day regret not being a more visible part of these memories and experiences. What can I do to get over my camera-phobia?
For those of us who prefer not to be the focus of attention, it used to be so much easier to hide. Pre-iPhones and Instagram, whenever someone annoying came along with a camera, sure it triggered feelings of self-consciousness and spoiled the care-free spontaneity of the occasion, but you could at least re-locate quickly to a shadowy corner of the room, or make a strategic bathroom visit. These days, of course, all your friends, all of the time, are potential paparazzi—and before you know it, your face is splashed all over social media.
You describe yourself as being very self-critical of your appearance, and so, given this ever-present chance of exposure and scrutiny in today’s world, your discomfort is understandable. But there are good reasons why you don’t need to be quite so worried as you are.
For instance, if you are concerned about being captured making an embarrassing face or in an awkward pose, take comfort from the fact that research suggests other people will probably judge you far less harshly than you are judging yourself—especially if they have been in a similar situation themselves—which, let’s face it, most of us have.
Also, bear in mind that disliking your appearance in photos is a common experience. There are various psychological explanations for this, including that we’re so used to seeing our mirror image that seeing ourselves non-mirror-reversed in photos can seem really odd. Similarly, our own voice sounds strange to us when recorded because we’re used to hearing it in part through the vibrations in our skull.