If you take a lot of photos and you use your house mirror very often, you’ve probably noticed a strange phenomenon. Your mirror “tells” you that you look pretty. After that, you grab your phone, snap a selfie for your Instagram account and then BOOM – you’re completely different! Why does this happen? Is it true that our mirrors lie to us? Hell, even your smartphone could be lying too. Well, drop a ball for a second. What if we told you that your eyes, your smartphone, and your mirror are all lying?
That’s why you look different when taking a selfie in the mirror versus taking an ordinary selfie. Mirror and the camera lens are quite different and in this article, we’ll talk about this strange phenomenon that happens to all of us.
3 Reasons Why You Look Better In The Mirror Than In Pictures
1. We Expect Mirror-Like Image
During my childhood, smartphones didn’t exist. And those phones that we had, they had an ordinary VGA camera which wasn’t even good at the direct sunlight, and the selfie was something that we didn’t know of. When we wanted to take a look at ourselves, we would always use a mirror, which isn’t always the case today. We see that many girls who do their makeup, usually use their front camera on the smartphone and do the necessary job. You need to understand that people got used to mirrors and they expect the selfie to be of the same quality, which is a damn fine way to disappoint yourself.
Let’s just count how many times a day you use a mirror. In the morning, when you take a shower is one time. Then, if you go out, you probably look yourself in the mirror. When going to a toilet, you also take a glimpse of yourself, and we can go on like this until tomorrow. The main trick with the (smartphone) camera is that it shows us the reverse of the mirror. Seeing your face the reverse can be a strange experience, mainly because our faces aren’t symmetrical. Photos will show you a completely different perspective on your face then a mirror would.
That being said, a smartphone camera shows your face as OTHERS see it. Yup. This can be pretty compromising as smartphone selfie is almost always worse than your reflection in the mirror. Just take a look at yourself in your smartphone camera. If you like what you see, that’s how others see you. The conclusion is that we all expect to see the same image as in the mirror, whereas the smartphone shows an image reverse of that in the mirror.
Related: Do Phone Cameras Distort Your Face?
2. It’s About the Camera and the Lens
Have you heard about the famous anecdote that says that camera adds ten pounds? If so, we can tell you that it’s partially true. This anecdote came from the time where we had the old televisions which displays were curved to a certain degree. Due to this curvature, there are various distorting effects which result in a slightly different perspective on your look, thus we see the actors with 10+ pounds of the body weight. Unfortunately, this trend can be applied to both photo and video.
The camera sensors might look that they’re absorbing the image the same way as the human eye. You lift up your smartphone, you see that the sensor sees the image as you do, and then you snap a photo. But, the camera has one important component that drastically changes its perspective – the lens. Since there are different types of lenses, every lens sees the image differently. Everything from simply P&S, mirrorless or behemoth-like DSLR cameras use some tricks to alter the perspective of the image. Since we can use ultra-wide lenses, zoom or telephoto lenses, you can look vastly different for every given case.
Let’s use the wide-angle lens as our example. As its name implies, this lens is used for capturing an image in a wide-angle. Since the field of view is wide, it’s drastically wider than your eyes, and this lens is great for capturing some landscape. But, to get the effect right, a wide lens takes advantage of the fisheye effect, which tends to stretch the subjects. In this case, it’s not too noticeable but can make you look slightly different. The same applies to the ultra-wide lenses with the addition that makes subjects near the lens very big, while those that are slightly further are very small.
What about the telephoto lens then? This lens is great for capturing some beautiful wildlife and moving subjects but it has a flattening effect on the subject. If you have a big nose, it may appear flattened, which is good. But, if you have big breasts and you want to show them a bit, that might be some bad news! The mirror doesn’t have any of these features and that’s why it shows a different perspective. Sure, there are zoom mirrors but we don’t suggest getting them. By zooming in, you can see more details which you might not like.
The camera flash also makes a huge difference. Sometimes, flash can be of huge help but sometimes, it can make you look even worse. Some say that the camera flash adds 7 years to your face, making you look shiny. That’s why natural lighting is always better than the flash.
If you’re asking yourself why we’re mentioning these lenses and not smartphone cameras, it’s because smartphone cameras nowadays come with multiple lenses.
3. It’s About YOU!
The chances that you hate your face on the selfie shots are very high. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that you also hate your voice on the telephone. When it comes to the mirror, you’re pretty limited and you can’t pose properly. To see yourself in the mirror, you have to face it and as soon as you turn around, you don’t see yourself. On top of that, you always look at your body from above, which gives the illusion of broad and round shoulders, as well as slimmer figure. That’s why you seem so beautiful in the mirror, compared to your smartphone selfie.
You might not notice it, but we automatically pose in a way that we look better when standing in front of the mirror. Our heads unconsciously turn at the right angle to see all the best facial features, which isn’t a case in your smartphone camera. With a slight tilt of the head, you can hide that annoying zit on your face or eyebags that are bothering you. But, as we mentioned, your photographer or camera lens don’t see this version of you. The version that your photographer sees is vastly different and hiding those “weak” spots isn’t as easy as twisting your head a bit when looking in the mirror.
That’s not always a negative effect. If your photographer knows how to position himself, a lens of the camera could also have a positive effect. It can make you prettier and slimmer than you really are, which is a flattering thing to behold.
Beauty Is in the Eyes of the Beholder
Now that you know why your look in the mirror is drastically different from your smartphone selfie, you shouldn’t stress about it. As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This also applies to your mirror and your camera lens, as they see you in a different way. While the mirror allows you to see yourself in a prettier way, the camera lens shows you an image that other people see.
If we add a couple of types of lenses that display the photo in a different way, we can see why your mirror and smartphone cameras are quite different. On the brighter side, you can be even prettier with a smartphone camera, especially if the photo is taken by someone who knows how to properly shoot a photo. It all depends on the camera angles and your posing skills.