facial distortion caused by close up use of a wide angle phone camera lensI have a fat face. In selfies, though, it’s much thinner. What a result! And the closer my face is to the camera, the thinner it becomes! Huzzah!

There is a trade-off, however. Firstly, my nose gets considerably bigger with nostrils large enough to double as the twin bores of the Dartford Tunnel – not so good. Also, my ears seem to disappear, my chin is huge and my receding hairline appears to have been affected by the full moon combined with a spring tide, with my forehead looking like Chesil Beach. (that’s Britain’s longest at 18 miles, BTW) It’s the lens in my phone’s camera that causes the dreadful distortion of faces. It’s a lens that is really for parties, landscapes and general scenes, rather than close ups of your head and shoulders. For all of the new software in the phones to make your ‘portrait’ better, it still has not sort out the twisted features of a selfie. All those special effects on Snapchat and Instagram are there to mask this distortion – to distract you from the fact you look strange; alien-like. Unflattering because they’re as far from portraits as you can get. Face it: Selfies wreck your online credibility.

Portraits shouldn’t make you look like an extraterrestrial: They should make you look awesome, handsome, glamorous, gorgeous. They should make you feel special. Does your selfie make you feel that?

Don’t get me wrong: Your smart phone is an amazing piece of tech. A computer in your pocket with two awesome cameras that take photos in pretty much any situation and have them ready to post online as fast as your carrier will transport them over the Interweb. If you’d have told me in the 1990s that’s what we will get in 25 years, I’d have looked for the men in white coats coming for you.

If you MUST use a selfie, do this.
If you’d rather not have selfies wreck your online credibility, you can reduce the distorted appearance of a selfie by simply standing further back from the phone’s lens. The extra distance reduces some of the perspective problem, making your facial features appear in perspective. As the phone lens is wide angle, there will be lots of area around you (so choose your location well) but with a crop edit, which you can carry out with the phone’s software, you’ll remove most of the unwanted elements in the picture. Cropping makes the image smaller overall, but most phone camera images are large enough for a serviceable final photo as a profile picture on social media.

In conclusion, you post images online to boost your appeal and add to your credibility so poor photos of you prevent that; so why would you you publish a picture that does the opposite? There’s no real secret to getting a decent social media profile photo from your phone’s camera, but it’s not going to be a selfie. Don’t take a shot from arms-length: Get a friend to take the phone photo from further away. At a push, you could get a selfie stick – but you might feel your coolness rank plummet if you do.