How Many Selfies Are Too Many Selfies?

I’d love your thoughts on selfies (or self portraits if that sounds more agreeable). The other day, I wondered if I was taking enough of them. Then immediately was embarrassed for thinking such a thought. I’ve been instagramming since 2013 — the year the selfie was recorded as a global phenomenon. As I write this, I’ve shared 2424 posts, and if I scroll my feed, my face doesn’t show up very often. Interestingly, I end up showing my face on Instagram Stories quite a bit more — not as selfies, but in footage of me talking about the Tall House.

It’s got me thinking: am I not showing up enough in the record my own life? Will my kids have pictures of me with them? Pictures of me participating? Or am I spending too much time behind the camera? Does it matter?

Then my thoughts travel here: Why are some people so comfortable with selfies while others avoid them? Do people who think they are beautiful share more selfies? Do people who feel unattractive share less selfies? To me, it feels more complicated than that, because I’m confident, and I like the way I look, but I rarely think to take a selfie, and I hesitate hitting publish every time I’m about to share an image of myself. I think I worry that it will seem like I’m vain or begging for compliments. Then again, it feels great when you share a picture of yourself and people comment saying nice things — which seems like a reason not to hesitate, right?

What’s the story? It makes me wonder if there are patterns we’ll see as people look back and research the selfie phenomenon. Are there certain months or seasons where people are more likely to take selfies? Are there personality traits that determine how many selfies someone takes? Do certain Enneagram Numbers or Zodiac Signs take more selfies than others? Are there patterns regarding access to types of cameras or equipment or education? Is it an introvert/extrovert thing?

Related: how many selfies is too many? If you took and shared a selfie daily for a year, would you find that to be an interesting record? Or would it feel narcissistic? Would it be more palatable if it was done as an art project? (We don’t seem to have any issues with artists making self-portraits.) And what if you take selfies regularly but don’t share them? What’s the motivation there? Simply a record for your personal use?

I also think about people who were hesitant about selfies a decade ago, but have learned to embrace them. It’s a whole skill! There are dozens of tutorials on how to take take a “good” selfie with advice on camera angles, lighting, filters, etc.. Have you ever tried to improve your selfie skills?

What’s your take on selfies? Do you take them often? Do you take them at all? Do you share them or keep them to yourself? Have you gotten more comfortable taking selfies after a decade or so of Instagram and camera phones? Or less comfortable? If you like taking selfies, do you use filters or do you like to keep them as is? If you don’t like taking selfies, what keeps you from doing so? Like me, are you aware of how often you’re taking (or not taking) them? Would love your thoughts.

112 thoughts on “How Many Selfies Are Too Many Selfies?”

  1. I was just thinking about this yesterday as a perused family photos on our computer. Of the thousands of family photos we’ve taken over the past 13 or so years, I am in very, very few of them, and even less have both me and my husband together. I often wonder how our kids will interpret this as they get older and look back through our albums.

  2. I know for me I’m always afraid that somehow taking pictures of myself may come across as narcissistic. Who wants to be guilty of that? Its a fine line I guess. My mom always hated getting her picture taken and so I have very few pictures of her and the ones I do have she is usually putting her hand in front of the camera or frowning. However sometimes for me its as simple as loving being behind the camera thinking my subjects are way more interesting that me.

    1. The fear of being narcissistic makes me put the brakes on selfies, too. I find that people assume a certain level of narcissism from bloggers in general, and I feel so awful about that and have an instinct to combat it.

      1. I agree with the narcissism angle. That said, I think ensuring you appear in family photos and your **family’s** photographic record of your life does not require a public representation of “selfies” on social media sites/blogs, etc. I love seeing pictures of my parents when young, and I know having those for my own children will be a gift to them some day. Our whole culture has changed, though, with what is private or what is for public consumption. Everything seems to be public, and I don’t know that serves us best in the long run. Every time I post pictures of myself online it seems unnecessary, so I don’t do it much either. (But I love the courage Nie Nie Dialogue shows in posting her face/life. It speaks deeply to ideas of beauty and teaches us with each photo she posts.)

  3. I am a photographer. That being said, I am always on the backside of the camera. I take nearly daily photos of those I love, as most of us do nowadays. I have thousands of daily photos of THEM. Yet, there are barely any photos of ME! And the reason is because of practicality, obviously. I am the one with the camera and the skills, so therefore I use it. When someone takes a photo of me I get all out of sorts. I do not feel comfortable out from behind the lens. When I’m put in front of it, I feel anxious and put on the spot. It’s not only insecurity, but also lack of control. So, hence the wonder that is a selfie! When I am in control of the images of ME I am capture how I want to be captured. I make sure to capture myself in the way I “see” myself and hope others see me in photos…just as I do when I am taking photos of others. So, I do not think taking photos of yourself is bad or weird. I think it’s sort of required if you want to be documented in the life you devote so much of your time and energy capturing already! My favorite photos of me with my children are selfies! Learning to preserve YOU in the memory keeping of your life is critical…if not for you, then for those in your family who will not want all those photos of themselves in 20 years, but be desperate for just a handful of YOU!!! Make it a priority for others benefit, as well as your own. : )

  4. I love that you wrote this post! I’ve been thinking about it so much lately… I rarely ever take pictures of myself, ever. And the ones I do take and consider instagramming or posting usually never get posted… the narcissistic bathroom mirror shots that I see on my feed on a daily basis have scared me from taking any pictures of myself! I think it’s time to get over this and be bold – thank you for sharing the lovely pictures of yourself – your face (and not just your writing voice) are beautiful!

  5. I hear you on this! I have very few shots of myself and there are two main reasons: I’m usually the one with the camera and I hate pretty much every shot of myself so I avoid them. I don’t mind myself in video, and I’m a very confident person, but stick me behind a still camera lens and I’m suddenly awkward. I guess that’s the reason photos rarely turn out being a good likeness, and it’s not just my imagination — a friend of mine is a professional photographer and even *she* has said I’m one of her hardest subject to photograph well. Sigh. Maybe I just need to make more videos? Not sure, but I do wish I had more and better shots of myself, and I definitely want more of me with my daughters.

  6. I am just as torn on this one as you. Part of me does want to show up more, if not for myself then for my little girls to see later – my six year old currently has taped up in her bedroom a polaroid of me when I was a toddler, she absolutely loves it. But part of me just can’t get serious when I point a camera at myself. And can’t get confident about asking someone else to. I see so many awesome selfies on Instagram and I really admire those shooters for just going for it. Maybe I’ll put it on my mid-year resolutions list.

  7. I have always been so very awkward around the camera -so very self conscious that most of the time I would duck out of pictures or mess them up on purpose. recently I have come to realize that it is important for my boys to have pictures of me from the here and now. While they are young. And though I still don’t take the best pictures, I am a little more loose about them letting the people take my photo etc, especially with the boys. I also started a blog recently and still struggle a bit with my profile pic. so much so, I put it down at the end of the blog and was just considering taking it out all together. What do you all think, are self portraits on blogs distracting or inviting? xxoo

      1. you are lovely. I of course think its distracting when it comes to my blog, but most of the time, not other blogs! I do so love having an image of the writer in my head. xo

  8. I was thinking about this the other day when it comes to pictures of my kids and I. So many pictures are just of the kids, and I want more of all of us together, largely for their memories. However, I want these for our own personal collection. Whether or not this is right, I do think negatively when people post way too many selfies on facebook or on other social media. I tend to think people do it for a couple of reasons. Either they are a bit conceited, or on the flip side, they are looking for praise and validation to feel better about themselves. I know this may not be true in everyone’s case, but they unfortunately are the first thoughts in my mind when people overexpose themselves through selfies. I tend to purposefully underexpose myself in photos online though, so I”m probably on the extreme opposite end. Nothing to do with self confidence. I just don’t see a need for it.

  9. Totally something I’ve been thinking about and trying to make amends about. I have about 5 photos of me & my little family that I actually like. That’s awful. We need to take a lot more photos together. I need to make more appearances in the photos of my family and I need to not dislike myself in the photos we have. It’s neither cute nor likable to be so uptight about photos. I am getting in them now and trying to enjoy it. Great, great topic Gabby!

    1. I completely agree – I’m guilty of deleting loads of pics I appear in which make me cringe because I don’t look the way I’d like to – I need to tell myself firmly that I’d rather have less-than-perfect shots that my family adore than to appear to have been absent from the archives for the whole of their childhood!

  10. My good friend who is a single mom says more than 75% of the shots she has of herself and her daughter are selfies. And it makes sense b/c there’s no other adult there to take a photo of them both. Timers work to an extent but there’s something more “in the moment’ about holding a camera in your hand for that type of shot.

  11. I often ask my husband to take pictures of ME when we go places, just so I can prove that I was there, too. :) I love that two of my kids own cameras now and they do take pictures of me. It’s fun to see what I look like from their perspective.

  12. I’m trying to get into the picture more. I love seeing my parents young with us. I hope my kids will feel the same. Regarding instagram. Its a photo sharing app, I think it is fair game to post lots of pictures!

  13. Such a great topic! There are very few pictures from my childhood that include my mom and I am always wishing for more memories of her. It makes me want to be conscious that we are capturing family memories as they really are- with all involved parties :)
    That being said, I’m super awkward in front of the camera and that is just something I have to work through.

  14. I take 99.9% of my own pictures. I started largely so that my daughter can see what I looked like when she was young. Maybe a couple per month might show up on my blog. I feel like I should do more but I feel weird about it for some reason. Although the blogs that do feature a lot of selfies, like Nie’s blog and Nat the Fat Rat, I love it, I do feel a strong connection to those kind of blogs b/c they’re so free in showing themselves and it makes me feel like I ‘know’ them, you know what I mean? (also, these shots of you are lovely!)

  15. I followed your link to Ben Blair’s instagrams and I noticed that there are far more of you on his than there are on yours (and your kiddos too). I thought that was interesting. It is difficult to take photos of oneself and as long as there are some good ones at each stage/trip/event then I think that is all that matters. I’m the photographer in our family too and I’m in fewer photos than the rest (but enough).

  16. Ya know, I’ve been thinking about this lately a lot. I need a headshot for a new project I’m working on, and I could find about half a dozen photos of just me over the past five years. And half of them are of my feet. I’m thinking that is too few, but I’ve never been comfortable with selfies…….But surely there’s a middle ground in there for me!

  17. Sandra Gonzales

    There’s nothing wrong with selfies in my book. It’s just a way to document your life, which goes way back to the cavemen drawings.

  18. I don’t have much anxiety being in front of the camera, but I always overthink it after the fact. Pictures at my sister’s graduation from uni? Great. But looking back all I could see was, “how fat am I? Look at how much baby weight I was *still* carrying.” I suppose, even though I don’t take many (except for strategic blogging purposes), that’s why I’ve been a fan of selfies: I can always get a flattering angle of myself. It’s the volume of pictures I get uncomfortable with…I always hate to seem too self-obsessed if I have to be in every picture I post.

  19. Yes, definitely you should be in the portrait. Your kids are going to want it, and need it someday. I always wish I had more photos of my mother and grandmother. I’d love to see what they looked like at my age, and if I look like them. Also, I’d love to have had more photos of me with them. I have to do a better job at having ME in the photo w/ my son!

  20. Yes, we should have more pictures of ourselves, but let’s share them with those close to us and not with the whole world.

  21. Most of my instagram photos are of the house, vintage finds..and then a mix of the kids and husband too. When I post a picture of myself I instantly get self conscious. So in a way its easier not to. I’m in the picture 1 or 2 times a month and I’m okay with that!

  22. Thank you for this very interesting question, Gabrielle! I think it is completely and totally up to you how much you choose to show your face via social media. You write a very interesting, beautiful, and thought provoking blog. I personally respect that you choose to keep your family life somewhat private (although I completely LOVED that recent video of your little June). I think that the world likes to see your face, but it is completely up to your own discretion how often you choose to share it with us. If it feels forced, don’t do it. You’ve built your readership by being who you are!

  23. I tend to avoid being in pictures, too. Being the wife of a photographer doesn’t help. There’s always a camera pointing in my direction, whether it’s a candid shot he’s trying to get (usually unsuccessfully) or because he’s shooting the kids and I happen to be next to them. If I’m not aware that someone is taking a photo of me, then I don’t really care but I find it very hard to take photos of myself. I dislike Instagrammers who fill their feed with selfies, too. It just feels too vain. However, I like seeing the face of the blogger I’m reading the words of every now and then and the same goes for Instagram. Just a little, not too much.

  24. What I think about is am I taking too many? Because I don’t want to turn into “that lady”. The one that ONLY takes photos of herself and nothing else. But I don’t think it’s all or nothing. I’m glad I take them later one, but catch myself deleting many of them afterwards and thinking, “man you are vein”.

    Let me know what you finally decide : )

  25. there is that fine line isnt there? I actually take lots of selfies because noone else is going to take photos of me, and I can take lots and lots and choose those few ones that turn out good :) I like to have the control.
    A few years ago I thought about the blogs I like most and want to emulate. I found that those blogs heavily feature the writer in photos. Its like you can connect to them. So I started to change my blog. I sometimes do wonder if people think I love myself or naricissitic.. (I hope not) cause most of the day I’m not really preoccupied with myself at all. I stopped reading some blogs cause as much as peoples kids are cute, if thats all it features it gets boring to me (I have my own cute kids!) But if you are totally self absorbed and put up a TONNE of self pics than that would turn me off too I suppose…. so back to the fine line?

    I think given the nature of your blog you actually walk that fine line well. We see pics of your family and you. You could probably give us a few more of you but I think youre doing ok :)

    1. I was just coming to post that link! My friends and I now tag our occasional selfies (w the kids) w #themomgetsinthepicture.

  26. Wow! It’s like you took a tiny peek into my brain and thoughts. Looking through my Instagram feed you’ll only find a few at most of me. It’s mostly food or everyday randomness. I’ve always felt a little strange posting pictures of myself like I’m saying “hey, look at me” and picture everyone gagging. Not because I look hideous but because it feels like self promotion. Is it excepted more than I realize? Am I making it harder to get to know me through my feed by not showing my face? If so will it be accepted or turn people off? Great post. I’ve been wondering this. Now, to read through all these comments and see what your readers’ consensus is. Thanks Gabby! Hope you’re well. :)

  27. I HATE selfies. But I do them because no one will take pictures of me. The only other person who will is my sister who is about 250 miles away. My husband is NO photographer. My children are too young. I do get discouraged when I do not come out in a good light in my pictures, but if 1 in 2o photos make me think I look decent, it’s a keeper and I’m proud of it. The others I am quick to hit delete on. And I don’t do this often, maybe once or twice a year.

  28. I try and make sure I am in a picture here and there when we are out as a family. I used to not because I gained a lot of weight during my career as a mom, but I felt sad that I was the one who spent the most time with my kids and was hardly in a picture. So if I want to remember I am there I hand the camera to a child or my husband and ask them to get a picture of me, usually with someone. I am so not comfy in front of the camera. But it is nice to realize that if I give the picture some time (like a year or two) I don’t look as awful as I thought I did when I first saw the picture. But then I am usually comparing how I look in a pic with how much better I thought I looked in the mirror on that day…. if I forget that part, the rest is okay. I am not a poser though. I wish I knew how to position myself to not hate that first glance! :)

  29. I don’t have enough selfies FOR SURE! It’s pure laziness – or inattention. I don’t ask people to take pix of me and my kids or hubby enough. Usually it’s me behind the camera. I love this post. I agree that it can be too many but I’m also always impressed with people I know who show up frequently in their own photos!!! I’m going to make the once a week goal. I’m sure it’ll end up with at least once a month – that would be 12/year which couldn’t possibly be too much!

  30. Amy @ LittleONE

    I think we are all guilty of this – usually because we (as mothers) are the ones behind the camera! I would love to see more of you though, Gabby…I especially love the posts you do when the kids go back to school – it is lovely to see how ‘French-styled yet still childlike’ they all are. A version of you in ‘what mama wears around the house/in to town/out and about’ would be most welcome!

  31. there is a big difference (to me) between a “selfie” and “being in the picture”. selfies, posted on instagrams and blogs, i believe are mostly to draw compliments from followers. not that there’s anything wrong with that! we all do it! if we didn’t want to hear the praise, would we publish it? methinks no. i agree with louise… of course we should have pictures of ourselves, and more of them… but they do not all need to be public.

  32. Really interesting conversation! It seems like we’re talking about two different things, though: selfies that will just be for your family vs. selfies that are part of a more public forum, like a blog.

    I think we moms definitely need to get ourselves in more family photos, no matter how forced it feels! It’s for a good cause. :)

    As far as public photos go, I think most of us respond well to authenticity. It’s tricky to explain what I mean, but if you’re posting photos of yourself and they truly feel like part of the story you’re telling, then it’s going to be a good thing.

  33. I love this post, Gabrielle. I don’t take many (I think my Instagram hosts only a handful w/ my face in them) but I actually want to take more because I think by doing so, I would be kicking my shyness and “my post-baby body isn’t perfect” scaredy-cat-ness in the butt. If I was there, in that place, and had the time of my life, why would I just take a picture of the place and cut my person out of that experience? It’s cheating my future self, really.

    On the flip side, there can be too many selfies! Ditto Robin who said they don’t all have to be public.

    1. “If I was there, in that place, and had the time of my life, why would I just take a picture of the place and cut my person out of that experience?”

      I love this!

  34. I absolutely understand this. There are very few pictures of me in our albums. I am not good at taking them of myself, and I hate forcing someone to do it. I want spontaneous pictures! But I think I’m going to have to start nagging the husband to take control of the camera once in a while.

  35. I am so rarely in photos – and that has been my story always. I’m a photographer. Am a child of two professional photographers – and still there are so very few. I so often have my camera in my hand, the idea of purposely being on the other side (of my own doing) rarely crosses my mind. For the first time since the novelty of having a mobile with a camera wore off years ago, two days ago I photographed myself for a blog post (where I’m chronicling my hair) and I had an a-ha moment. I should photograph myself (whether I like it or not) … or I should hand the camera to someone else now and then. I think once-a-week is reasonable. I may join you.

  36. I LOVE to see your lovely face as often as possible! And the faces of the little ones and not so little ones and Ben. I wish we had more pictures of my mother and my grandmothers. One of my problems is that I look so different in the mirror than I do in photos and that can be very discouraging! Must have something to do with my eyes, or my mirrors. Your opening photo is stunning to say the least!

  37. Lovely post Gabrielle, I love reading all the comments too. The link to Allison Tate’s article was great. I will make an effort to take more pictures of me and more with me and my kids :)

    I read somewhere it is a good idea to keep a folder in your computer with favorite pictures of yourself… I love the idea! Anytime you need a nice picture of you (alone or with the kiddos) you can go there (instead of searching everywhere in your computer)…

    For fun pictures and family portraits we like to use an “Extendable telescopic handheld Self Portrait Monopod”… You extend it and take a family picture with one hand. It works like a charm for us, especially if there is nobody around to ask for pictures…



  38. I am the main photographer in our family as well. I love photos, of all kinds and I don’t just take them of our family but of where we live and where we travel and anything really that catches my eye and I want to capture. A couple years ago I noticed that I had no pictures of myself. I had a handful from my various pregnancies but nothing recent. I was just having this thought when I started reading a blog post by Vivienne McMaster. She was writing about a favorite self portrait artist of hers. Vivienne was also introducing her new e-course. It was all about putting yourself in the picture and using your own image as a muse. Appropriately called “You are Your Own Muse” it was a several week long e-course about photography tricks, lighting, styles and community building, using your own image as the inspiration. As a newly postpartum mama for the third time I wasn’t super excited by the idea of taking a bunch of photos of myself in my sweats and driving carpool but I signed up anyway.
    The class changed my life. The way I see myself, the way I photograph myself and my world. I don’t share all the images I take now, but I have a lot of fun trying out new techniques and remembering the tricks Vivienne taught.
    If anyone is interested in learning more about self portraiture and how to create great images of yourself I *highly* recommend Vivienne’s courses. The other students in the course were so supportive of each other’s images and gave the best feedback. The tricks I learned I still use today and share with my other photography nerd friends. Her class didn’t require a bunch of fancy equipment, many people just used their cell phones, and the layout was super easy to follow and have fun with. If you’re interested, here’s her website.

    PS. I love the image of you and Ben driving! Such a regular moment but when captured it became something really special.

  39. I am utterly awkward and self-conscious in front of the camera, and as a result I tend to dislike photos taken of me. At the same time, there are probably ten or so photos of me from the past five years, which makes me sad. Last Christmas, my dad put together a photo slideshow set to music of the first five years of my parents’ marriage, from 1973-1978 and it was so, so beautiful. It made me think about how important it is to document our lives and to be part of that documentation ourselves. I know I will treasure the photos of my parents for the rest of my life, even the photos that were taken well before I was born. Even if selfies may seem narcissistic to some, what a gift for your children to have that extra little way to know and remember you.

  40. I love the road trip photo of you and Ben – so fun! Your children will adore it in the future (if not already)!

  41. My husband lost his mother when he was quite young (six). We have less than five pictures of him and his mother together. We wish there were a few more. It really is a very special thing to have candid “life” shots of you and your children.

  42. Hi,

    My mom has passed away and I really regret the fact that there are some periods of her life that we have almost no pictures of her ! My husband and I try to take one picture of us together per month, since our families live far away. We send them a monthly virtual album, so they can check out what we’ve seen that was beautiful or funny.

    On the other hand, unless your blog is about photography or “yourself” or “you and your family”, I don’t really see the point of taking so much pictures of yourself for public exposure. If it’s doesn’t mean anything in specific, it seems a little like ” self adoration”. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel good about yourself, but what does the public have to do with it? Even if we love you? Do I really have to see the face of the blogger 4 times a week? I am not sure it’s necessary.

    I liked your outfits for Alt Summit, but it also made me think about all the people going there who were already nervous and excited, some to present, somme to attend and then they also had this new pressure of being well dressed, maybe not too much well dressed, but cool enough, fashionable enough, etc. I felt sort of uncomfortable, because I thought it sort of shifted from what really matters at the Alt Summit. So, in my humble opinion, it wasn’t you in the pictures or your lovely clothes, but what the message said, even if it wasn’t your intention…

  43. My mother died when I was eighteen. I would love, _love_ to have more photographs of her, and of her and me and the rest of our family together, in the relatively brief time we had together. It is definitely worth making sure you are part of the story.

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