Two of my cameras, the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PL6 have flip screens.  You can turn them 180 degrees and aim them at yourself. Advertised as “selfie-friendly,” I felt obliged to personally test the function for myself.

My results were traumatic and be forever engraved in my memory. All else may fade, but I will still shudder when I think about those hideous pictures.


From this test, I reached a few conclusions that I will share with you.


A few guidelines, as it were, about who should take selfies. Who should not. Ever. Take. Selfies.

  • If you’re over 65, it’s a bad idea. On principle.
  • If you don’t own a real camera and have no idea what I’m talking about when I say “flattering angle,” “portrait lens,” or “good lighting,” selfies are a very bad idea.
  • Just because your camera (or phone) is “selfie-friendly” does not mean your face is. Have a friend take your picture. Preferably a friend who knows how to use a camera.
  • Wrinkles and selfies go together like oil and water. Actually, oil and water go together much better than wrinkles, wattles, liver spots — and selfies.
  • 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.
  • Nothing will compensate for the bags under your eyes, the deep folds of your throat. The furrows where your chin droops. It isn’t about fat or thin. You can be young and fat and look pretty good in a selfie. You can be slender, fit, and 75 … and look like a zombie who hasn’t eaten a good brain lately.
  • Touch up tools are not enough. If the picture is awful, there’s only so far Adobe’s Healing Tools … or even the Glamour Glow filter … can take you. If the picture is horrible, touching it up will make it a touched up yet somehow, still horrible, picture.

If youth is a faded memory, don’t take selfies. If you cannot resist the temptation, filter the hell out of them. Whatever you’ve got in your photographer’s arsenal of touch-up tools? Use them. Liberally.

What? You don’t have photo touch-up tools? You are a senior citizen taking selfies using your mobile phone? Are you deranged?  If you are not outright traumatized, you will be at least saddened by the experience. It will make you doubt yourself.

Don’t do it. You will look bad, even if you are really attractive. The camera is cruel and it lies, no matter what anyone says. It emphasizes wrinkles, spots, flaws, fat, bags, and bald spots. It doesn’t see you with an overlay of love.

I see selfies posted on Facebook. Most are awful. I cringe when I see them. What are the people who post them thinking? I don’t need to know the individual to recognize an unflattering picture. These shots aren’t merely unflattering, they are cruel. Why would someone post a picture which makes him or her look terrible?

Selfies are usually extreme closeups — which by itself is a reason to shy away from them. Anyone who has ever worked in front of a camera will tell you: extreme closeups are for the very young. With makeup. And excellent lighting.

Everyone else? It will look like a prison intake photo in which even youth may not be enough to save the picture.

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 folks in these godawful photographs tell them that their beautiful soul is shining through, another way of saying “Omigod you look horrible, but I can’t say that because it would hurt your feelings.”

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. If you have an unfortunate neck, wear a scarf. Jewelry can help. Earrings can work wonders.

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 a self-portrait.

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


I delete ugly pictures of me, Garry, family and friends who look grotesque in pictures. 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. Just nice. Because we all deserve it.

Putting your best foot forward is legal. It’s good. Try it. It will make you smile. Oh, and that’s another thing. Smile. A smile makes everybody look better.

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

Categories: Cameras, Humor, Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. I’ve never had the urge to take a selfie because I am at that ‘mature’ age and after reading this I know I’ll never do it, ever. 🙂


    • It can be a pretty horrible experience … even when you know you can manipulate the picture into something else. Realizing that the camera sees you like that is … well … none of us need that. Getting old is tough enough without making it worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. Yesterday I went out with my Social Snappers group. As I was dressed up in my Art Deco gear they decided that I was the model for the day. But… I absolutely hate having my photo taken, and the photo posted on Facebook was horrible – this person has no idea how to chose a good photo for a start, and then no idea how to glamourise the portrait. I just cringed when I saw it.
    I take selfies on my phone with an app that enhances your selfie – ie smoother skin, jowls disappear and eyes can get larger. Now that is fun. But only for me to see. No-one else – unless I want to update my gravatar.


    • Most people take awful portraits … even photographer who know how to shoot other things. It doesn’t mean, because you can shoot landscapes, that you can take a flattering portrait. Oddly, that’s one of the things I do well — if I have someone willing to cooperate a little bit. I take selfies to have something on which I can experiment with a new filter or technique. Sometimes, they are fun. Mostly, they wind up in the trash. Which is where they belong.


  3. You’re right those selfies are mostly disastrous. I’m too busy taking pictures of other people or things to do a selfie. It’s when you catch the animation of the person, a moment between a couple, that is when the beauty really shines.


  4. I. Do. Not. Do. Photos. Of. Me.
    At my wedding, 48 years ago, my mother gripped my elbow and said, ‘you WILL allow yourself to have pictures. Won’t you.” Yes, ma’am. I didnt like those, either.

    Only once, in all the years I have been avoiding photos, has a professional news photographer actually taken my photo and made me look good. I don’t know what he did, but if I could find him again I’d marry him.

    And you’re right, the camera exaggerates (and encases it in cement) all your flaws. The pout, the blink, the sneer, the silly look, the messy hair, the slouch, the slump, the extra weight…

    The photos you have here are really really nice. spontaeous, well taken. I love the one with you and the camera and those cool earrings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You should have seen the original selfies. Most of them were tragic. Frightening. Unforgettable, but not in a good way.

      Garry has taken some good pictures of me and I of him. Passing strangers, handed a camera and asked to press the shutter, have done surprisingly well over the years and ONE press photographer took a portrait of us that lives on as the single best shot of the two of us ever taken by anyone, ever.

      Mostly, though, Garry is difficult to photograph and fussy about the results because he knows how he wants to look and if he doesn’t look that way, it doesn’t matter what I think, he isn’t going to like it. Ditto moi. I mess around with selfies with the foreknowledge that I can delete them before anyone else sees them and gets nightmares from them.

      I’m not sure why, but those of us who take pictures, usually hate pictures taken of us. At least when I “do” myself, I can mess around with filters until the liver spots, jowls, wrinkles that have turned to deep chasms are in- or less- visible. It gets harder with each passing year and I don’t buy into the “beautiful soul shining through” crap. That’s not my soul. Those are my dry skin patches. If it weren’t for the occasional event, I’d never have any new pictures. I now have a filter that offers the option of “smooth.” Like a pancake. I like it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Okay. I am vain. I want to look like I did during my prime years on television. I’m at ease when a video camera is pointed at me but am stilted with still photographs. Always have been. Weird given all my years as a TV news guy. I need a good photographer to take pics of me. Marilyn knows how to make me look good. Selfies are verboten!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Garry, one thing to consider–you trust marilyn, you’re relaxed around her. you KNOW she won’t take the bad shot, the one with one eye open and the other darting around somewhere–she knows your good side and your REALLY good side. And she is taking the photos with an aim to pleasing you, not a newspaper.
        Frankly, all of us want to look the way we want to look, and the hard part is realizing that if we ever did, it was 40 years ago. sigh.

        What I have yet to understand (and it may just be a power play kinda thing), is why people insist on taking the photo you just said no to, and then sending /showing it to you anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

        • People don’t listen to each other. They are too busy talking or hearing what they want to hear. Like politicians.


        • Judy, I believe Marilyn just answered your query. Sometimes, people are sending or posting unflattering photos because they have no real sense of their self image. It’s hard for me to comprehend. Cue Carole King/Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”.


  5. This was hilarious! Especially the soul shining through revelation. I never like it when other people take pictures of me, so why would I take one of myself? Seflies are popular because cellphones and Instagram made them ridiculously accessible. Take away either one, and people would quickly stop the insane practice of taking pictures of themselves just to show them off…


    • I understand the URGE to shoot. What I fail to grasp is why people POST them on places like Facebook. Some of these posted shots are so dreadful, they look like rejects from “Night of the Living Dead.” Unless they are favoring the dead-but-walking look, take pictures of your pets. They always look okay, even out of focus. Maybe especially out of focus.


  6. Now and again I do a selfie if the purpose fits. It is usually at the umpteenth try that I get a more or less result that can be seen, but they are definitely not flattering. More a little game I play. If I need a quick shot for something I do it with my iPhone. The quality of the photos is not bad. The mirror is OK, but mine is full length and as I usually drift around at home in home clothes, I have to dress up a bit if I want to show the photo.


    • I try, but I know I have the power of the “delete” function to back me up. For every picture that doesn’t make me sick looking at it, a dozen hit the virtual trash bin immediately after being viewed, I take a lot of quick shots to illustrate posts and you are the only person I know who does the same thing. I have cameras all over the house, just in case I need to grab one in a hurry. The ones of me are the most painful. I look at them and wonder: “Do I really LOOK that bad? How can anyone stand being around me?” I look like either I should be dead and buried, or am dead and was buried, but somehow clawed my way to the surface just to take a selfie.


  7. I really like these photos Marilyn!


  8. I don’t do “selfles” as I have a hard enough time with mirrors these days….


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