SENIOR SELFIES FOR THE PHOTO-CHALLENGED

My new camera, the Olympus PEN E-PL5 has a flip screen that you can turn 180 degrees. It is, as they say, “selfie-friendly.” Unable to resist, I took a few, just to see how it worked.

selfie in mirror January 2015
I used the a portrait lens (Olympus 45mm f1.8) and a mirror. I put on a little makeup, and brushed my hair. Put on a pair of earrings. I smoothed out some wrinkles, deleted a few spots. Put a little glow over the whole picture. Did some cropping … oh and I lowered the overall brightness.

The results were just this side of traumatic. I still shudder thinking about it. From this test, I reached some conclusions. Created a few guidelines, as it were, for selfies. Who should take them. Who should not. Ever. Take Selfies.

1. Just because your camera (or phone) is “selfie-friendly” does not mean your face is.

2. Wrinkles and selfies go together like oil and water. Actually, oil and water go together far better than wrinkles, wattles, liver spots and selfies.

3. Your arms are too short. I don’t care who you are. Your arms are still too short. If you are over 50, you would need to be ElastiGirl (or Guy). Otherwise, your arms are too short.

4. Nothing will compensate for the bags under your eyes, the deep baggy folds of your throat. Or the furrows where your chin droops. It isn’t about fat or thin. You can be young and fat and look fine in a selfie. You can be slender, fit, and 75 … and look like a zombie who hasn’t eaten a good brain lately.

5. Touch up tools are not enough. If the picture is awful, there’s only so far Adobe’s Healing Tools … or even the NIK Glamor Glow filter … can take you. If the picture is a horrible closeup, touching it up will make it a touched up yet horrible closeup.

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHICALLY CHALLENGED

If youth is but a faded memory, don’t take selfies. If you are not outright horrified, you will be at the very least, saddened. Don’t take them on your phone, or your camera. Unless you are one of those Hollywood people, you will look bad, even if you are actually attractive. The camera is cruel. Unforgiving. It doesn’t see you with an overlay of love.

I see the selfies posted on Facebook. Some are so awful, I cringe. What were they thinking?

I don’t even know the individual, but I do recognize an unflattering picture when I see it. It isn’t merely unflattering. It’s an extreme closeup. Anyone who has ever worked in front of a camera will tell you: extreme closeups are for the young. Everyone else? It looks like a prison intake photo. (Sometimes, even the young look pretty bad.)

Some parameters as the first picture, but I tilted my head and remembered to add the hint of a smile.

Meanwhile, the friends of the people in these godawful photographs tell them that their beautiful soul is shining through. I have a hot flash for you. Your beautiful soul is not shining through,  but your wart with the bristly hairs is. Photographs do not capture your soul, just your image.

If you need a picture of yourself and there is no one on earth you can ask to hold the camera a decent distance away, have you heard of a mirror? Step back, get some perspective. Maybe turn your head so you get rid of that “America’s Most Wanted” look. Do not use a flash.

How about some makeup? Do you own a hairbrush? Would you consider using it?

Don’t wear white in a photograph. If you have an unfortunate neck, wear a scarf. Jewelry can help. A nice pair of earrings can work wonders.

And you guys? Shave. Trim the beard. Remove  the nose hairs. How about putting on something attractive? That wife-beater shirt might not be your best choice for that portrait.

Why do people think it’s cheating to look good for portraits? Is there a law (a secret to me) which requires full, naked disclosure in photographs?

I delete ugly pictures of me, Garry, family and friends who look particularly grotesque in pictures. And I use all the tools at my disposal — filters, healing brushes, soft focus — to make the subjects of my portraits look attractive. Not necessarily young. But no one has some inherent right to get the full details of Jenny’s wrinkly neck or mottled complexion, then have it posted on social media sites so everyone can snicker at poor Jen. And trust me, they snicker. Or worse.

Putting your best foot forward is never bad. And all was right in the world.

Now, put down that cell phone. Step away. Don’t make me hurt you.


(Your Thing) for Dummies – Take a complicated subject you know more about than most people, and explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.

And just in case they fix the link to today’s prompt:  Easy Fix

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

75 thoughts on “SENIOR SELFIES FOR THE PHOTO-CHALLENGED”

  1. First of all you look great in those photos, everything is good, not perfect, but perfect is not good. I am jealous. All my selfies show what a wonderful individual nose size I have, at least it is unique. My next selfie I will pay attention to your tips.

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    1. Selfies make us look like convicted felons with bad complexions. I work with a real portrait lens, a mirror, and Photoshop. I don’t expect to look 25. Not a chance of that, but I don’t have to look hideous, either. Best? Have someone else take your pictures. Selfies are not for golden oldies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, I take photos of everyone, but no-one takes a photo of me.I have photoshop 3 (one of the older versions)on and older computer, but have not used it for some time.

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    1. Garry was trying to peer at my screen while I was doing my post processing stuff. I told him to get lost, come back when I’m done. That’s like staring over my shoulder while I write. Some things are PRIVATE. I didn’t do that much. I removed some liver spots and deep furrows, but mostly, I put on a bit of makeup. Not a lot. Just some tinted moisturizer, a bit of cheek and lip color (not lipstick, just tint so I could lose the pink rabbit look). No mascara. I brushed my hair. Wore earrings. Shot with a proper portrait lens. I gave myself a fighting chance to not look like I had one foot in the grave. And I did what Garry is always nagging me to do. I smiled. Smiling lifts your chin, did you know that?I didn’t try for “young” because I am NOT young, but pleasant and healthy didn’t seem out of reach 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. About #3, haven’t you heard of “selfie-sticks”? They seem to be quite popular these days. You put your cell phone at the end of an extendable stick that can be 3′ to 4′ long and use that for selfies. Prices seem to range from around $20 to $200.

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    1. That would probably help. So would a tripod and a timer, but that would probably mean using a real camera. All that post processing I do … It makes a HUGE difference. That’s why movie cinematographers sometimes use a little vasoline on a lens when they are shooting an older star. Because the camera is not gentle and kind. it’s just a camera.

      For what they are charging for that “extendable stick,” you could buy a real camera and a tabletop tripod. Just saying.

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    2. I saw someone using one of those once while I was standing in line somewhere and I thought, “What in the world is that???” Then I saw them posing underneath it and thought “What a great idea.”

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        1. A self timer and tripod works for when you’re standing in front of something and posing, but these guys were standing in line with me, so they were gonna be moving at any second. That’s when an extendable arm is comes in handy.

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            1. At which point maybe you should be questioning whether or not you should be spending the money on something that will, in the end, be used to create snapshots on a cell phone. If you are that involved in the photography, maybe a camera is a reasonable investment? It’s like buying a keyboard, speaker, monitor and dock for your cell phone and winding up spending more than it would have cost to get a pretty good laptop … but really, all you have is a cell phone and a lot of accessories. Wait, it is a cell phone and a lot of accessories. Oops.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I like these pictures of you. (I see you’re wearing earrings, a nice touch of color.) My sister is always trying to take selfies of us. She usually looks better in them than I do. But then, she’s four years younger and she wears makeup.

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    1. I still say taking a real picture from a reasonable distance works out better, no matter what your age. But a little color helps, too. A bit of makeup, a pair of earrings. Why look your worst in pictures? It doesn’t take a lot to look better and it’s legal and everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You look absolutely beautiful! I personally refuse to take selfies or let anyone take any other kind of photo of me – no one needs my face in their thoughts (well, except maybe my husband and kids, and they love me anyway).

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        1. And then again … it might. You know, I sort of specialize in taking flatting pictures of people who are totally convinced they can’t be photographed and look good. That’s what photography is about. Not just pointing and shooting, but finding a good angle, the right light. Anybody can look good in a photograph. Maybe not glamorous, but attractive. It is not the impossible dream.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. You made me laugh, and yes, literally it was out loud. Good, nay excellent, tips, too. I’d use them if it weren’t for this very real phobia I have about having my picture taken (blogged about a while back).

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    1. I often think, when looking at some of the horrible pictures people post on social media sites, that they have good reason for their photo phobias. It’s like my phobia about hairdressers. There are only so many times you can get mutilated before you don’t want to ever risk it again!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I thought your selfies were very nice. Maybe they don’t do you justice but there is a sweet gentle nature about you. Nice hair length too. So we don’t look 20 any more, not sure I would want to 20 anyway.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are totally right. I would NOT want to BE 20, but I wouldn’t mind having that young, flexible body. The hair is a bit funny since I haven’t had anything done to it in … two years now? Not a trim, a shaping. Not anything. That’s just … hair.

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      1. Well your hair looks just fine. I cut my own now. It’s a little shorter than yours is. I got fed up when I spent a small fortune only to have to come home and cut it again myself.
        Leslie

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    1. Honest, I am not exaggerating or lying. You just need to have some pictures taken by someone who knows how to take a decent portrait. Not a bad snapshot in poor light with no makeup in your most unflattering clothing. You have to make a little effort!

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  7. I love these selfies- you look beautiful. I think we are always too critical of ourselves, the lines, wrinkles, whatever. When the photo showed up my first reaction was , wow how pretty Marilyn looks “

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I was surprised how well they came out. On first look, I hated them. After I did a little fixing up, I started to like them and Garry REALLY likes them 🙂 I mean … really LIKES them!

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  8. Whenever I take a selfie (usually after I color my hair), it’s on my cell phone. I take about twenty of them with different angles and different backlight. I’m lucky if I get one that looks good. All the rest get deleted.

    BTW, I love your earrings.

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    1. Actually, that’s a pretty normal ratio for pictures in general, not just selfies or portraits. That’s why we try to take a lot of pictures because we hope at least one of them will come out well. I still think a mirror is better than a selfie because you can back off. But I am not a telephone photographer. I don’t even have a mobile phone these days. Dumped it. I do, however, have many cameras.

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      1. I have a little flexible phone tripod (it even wraps around poles things) but there’s no timer on my phone. I have to reach out and touch the button with my finger to get a selfie. hahaha, But at least the tripod extends my reach.

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  9. All the early portrait artists never painted an accurate portrait at all. So all the ancient portraits we see today are not correct. The artists would never be able to work again if he painted a sitter with warts and all. And that included the men. That aside you look great. For phones the latest trend is a selfie stick to hold the phone further away. Not for me. My camera faces outwards, not towards me. 😀

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    1. I actually think self-portrait is a valid art form. Every artist has used it. In the case of selfies, though, I have issues with the equipment. You really can’t take a good picture of yourself that way. If you are a kid and you’re just doing fun snaps, anything goes and who cares anyhow? But if you are a grown up and you want an attractive picture to use with a profile or whatever, there are far better ways than selfies on a mobile phone. Personally, I prefer an actual camera. I know that makes me terribly old-fashioned, but I can’t get my head behind a phone as camera. Maybe to catch a picture on the fly, but not to do anything even remotely artistic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree that self portraits are a valid form of art. The thing with phones is the format and the angle that the phone is held for the camera. I have seen some interesting (in my view) and great selfies from phones with the younger generation. But they are definitely not flattering for most of us. I use my phone a lot as the camera is great on it. I always have it with me which is a great advantage.

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        1. I got rid of the phone and carry a compact camera. Kind of the same idea. I just have trouble taking pictures without any real control. I’m not a very point and shoot kind of photographer. I know others are just fine with it … but not me.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for such a wonderful post. I have not done many selfies. Since I am participating in Patreon I am having to pay for more attention to pictures of me and I am not used to being in front of the camera at all. I needed a good smile and laugh today and you gave it to me. Thanks! I love your sense of humor.

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      1. http://Patreon.com is a site for people to support their favorite struggling artists. It is like an on-going kickstarter. I am doing it because my computer died and I don’t have enough money to get a new one, so I am asking for donations. You can go to Patreon and support your favorite artists, writers, etc.

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  11. No selfies for me! I know when to say no…

    This reminds me of when I used an image of a very unflattering selfie Geraldo took of himself in one of my posts, and nearly lost all of my followers in the process….

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  12. Interesting Marilyn, and your photos look terrific! Not everyone has your starting point. Having never taken a selfie because I’ve been aware of the pitfalls. Even photos taken by someone else, give me the shudders!

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    1. I lot of processing goes into making me look that good. I have excellent software — and I’ve practiced improving portraits for seniors like me. I bet I could do a good portrait of you. I’ve done portraits of a lot of people who were sure they could never look good in a picture, but really, ANYONE (even me!) can look good with the right tools, angle, and lighting. I wish I could pop over and prove it to you! We all have beauty that can be captured.

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    1. Even young people can look really awful in selfies, but for the senior set? It’s cruel and unusual punishment. So why would we do that to ourselves? I don’t get why anyone would want to look awful in a photograph.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well after a certain point we have no choice but to look awful in our pictures…or maybe we think we look awful because everyone tells us that we do.

        For instance, when I look at a portrait of Gertrude Stein I don’t see an old lady, I see a powerful mind…And Most photos of Einstein depict a kindly looking old man whose eyes show flashes of genius…

        Maybe other people would see what we are inside if we lived in a society that didn’t blind itself to the full range of human existence and expression…It is a bit odd to live in a culture that thinks that the only time of life worth living is between 16 and 30.

        Just 14 years out of a possible 84.

        Sorry if I went off on a ramble…

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        1. Actually, you don’t have to look horrible in pictures. You just need to have someone who knows how to take a portrait take the picture. Looking older doesn’t mean you have to look awful. A photograph shows your image, not your soul or your character. Properly done, you might look your age in a photograph, but you don’t have to look unattractive. That’s the difference between a photographer and someone who has a mobile phone and thinks it’s the same as being a photographer. There IS a difference. Honest!

          Liked by 1 person

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