How to “Fix” your Portraits with Face Cam iPhone App

When I first came across the Face Cam App for iPhone on iTunes it came highly recommended and as I love a good photography App I decided to pay the $0.99 and try it out. The features looked promising and I was excited by an app that seemed quick and simple to use. However I really wasn’t expecting how completely unrecognisable the photos could become with only just a few tweeks (their Photo Makeover App is even worse) so I thought I’d share with you the things I love (and disagree with) about Face Cam but before I start I want to show you how to use it.

You’re asked to either take a photo or choose from your photo album. I always recommend taking a photo with the original iPhone camera app then go and apply that photo into other applications so your original is always saved. I’ve chosen one taken yesterday in the car and it automatically detects my face and applies features points. These don’t always line up exactly but you can manually move the points with your finger and once that’s done just click “apply”.

Then it’s going to ask you to select a level of flash/brightness to be applied to your photo. Just like with a normal camera, the level of flash needed is going to be dependant on your photo’s surroundings and the distance away from the camera when the photo was taken. As I was in the car with uneven light falling across my forehead and chest I chose to add “normal” which in most cases is more than enough, too much and you risk “burning” the photo. A term coined from chemical processing days when additional light was exposed and all the little details (for example freckles) where overpowered and bleached out. In this case, bye bye bags under the eyes, hello porcelain skin!

Whilst playing with lighting and adjusting the level of exposure is fun, flattering and just a little bit cheeky, it was the Face Enhancement portion that threw me. You have the option of male or female presets and this is what comes up when you select female. The eyes are widened, the skin smoothed and brightened and the best part of all is that you can change the shape of your face… are you kidding me?

Notice how it automatically sets it to skinny… as a default! Even an app knows that women harbour issues about their weight and it indulges us in providing a tool to ALTER OUR FACES. It mocks us with “Hey, see how good you look without that other chin? Let’s share this with your friends and make them jealous over your skinny hotness, they’ll all think you’ve lost weight for sure.” … Think I’m wrong?

This is a fake, a completely over edited photo using Face Cam and posted on Instagram as a social experiment. This is my most liked, most commented portrait I’ve ever published on Instagram and whilst that should make me pleased and excited… it kind of made me feel sad. This airbrushed, squished, brightened and eye popping photo was done on all the extreme settings… and you loved it. This is how you thought I looked at my best, my most unreal, fabricated best. When did this kind of beauty become more valuable and publicly applaudable than the original?

There is a button on the app that lets you revert to the original image during editing and switching between the two blew me away. I often wonder if my original image would have been received with as much enthusiasm. When glancing at the photos side by side it’s easy to assume that the edits are small but notice the lines in my neck removed, even the shape of it is altered. The stretch marks on my cleavage are gone, the pimples on my forehead removed, my cheekbones more defined and even the shadows under my eyes and around my nose are gone. My eyelids have been raised to stretch my eye and both the eyes and teeth have been brightened… all with an app that takes mere seconds to use, no special skills required.

As a Vanity Blogger I’m keenly aware that apps like Face Cam are appreciated and have their place in the market. I use this app almost everyday and not just for “selfies” but also for still life shots and photos of Aidan as I like the brightening and smoothing options as well as the app’s Camera Filters. I like my Instagram photos to be bright and engaging and Face Cam’s Vivid filter allows me to enhance the colours without needing to add a filter on Instagram which usually has a frame around it, something I’m not particularly keen on. You could say it was like Lightroom for my iPhone.

I think Face Cam is a great app and a useful tool for a blogger using Instagram or other sharing platforms. What I think we need to be mindful of as users, is that the impression we put out to the world always reflects back. If blogging communities and those using social media (even right up to fashion labels, magazines and marketing companies) remove the “realness” from our online world and continue to warp the views of the public, we are setting our children up for failure.

They will grow to see that no matter who they are, how they look or the personality they exude will be enough to be considered “perfect” or worthy. Let’s not kid ourselves, their world will be drenched in online activities, they will be more connected than we can even fathom. My fear is that perception will rank higher than personality and truth, that the dream will outweigh the reality.

When it comes to fashion, especially high fashion I’m lenient. They sell an illusion, a fantasy that rips us out of our current reality and places our minds (and wallets) into the realms of possibility, no matter how far fetched but when it comes down to it we know it’s not real. I do agree that glossy overly photoshopped images in magazines are unnecessary but I understand “selling a dream” is a part of life, no matter which industry you choose to apply it to. What bloggers, tweeters, facebookers and the everyday internet users have is the power to keep things real. We don’t need to sell a dream, all we need to do is share our reality, allow ourselves to be vulnerable and engaging.

I want my son to grow up seeing real beauty in all it’s forms, to be free to chase his own ideals of what beauty is to him without fear of social prosecution or to be blinded by societies superficial morals of what is “good” and “bad”. The way we use the internet today will reflect how our children use it in the future so please be mindful, even when just taking a simple self portrait. Remind yourself that your own personal truth is beautiful, soulful and much more engaging.

I want to know you as you are, not just the person

you think you’re meant to appear to be.

Please note: This was not a sponsored post, I didn’t get the App for free and to be honest I’m not even sure if Face Cam would like this post. As I stated I do use the app and I like it, I recommend it as it’s easy to use and the results can be great. I just don’t want people to go crazy and contemplate the idea of removing every wrinkle or double chin, they are a part of you and YOU are AWESOME just as you are!


  1. 1

    Jaimie earl says

    I just purchased that app after reading your post. Wow what a difference it makes!
    That’s for the recommendation.

  2. 2


    I like ‘brighter’ photos, and in many ways, just upping the brightness on any photos can make the image look so much better. It can be frustrating when you go to blogs or see pictures and you can just tell they are way over photoshopped, maybe it’s just a pet peeve on mine. I think a little photoshop can be fine, I know I play with the curves on most of my blog pictures, but some actions/apps go crazy to the unrecognisable point. I don’t have this app, but it seems rather interesting, I think it does a pretty good job, though the eyes are what annoys me, you can tell that they’ve been changed.
    Oh, and I think you look amazing without any of the edits!

  3. 5


    I understand what you’re saying about feeling that everyone liked the over produced photo… but it is Instagram and I think people expect the photos on there not to be very realistic.
    Someone said to me recently that they’d recognize me at DPCON12 because they followed me on Instagram – I laughed and said I don’t carry filters around with me so that might be harder than you think! I have pigmentation problems, freckles, wrinkles etc and only a few of them show up on Instagram :)

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  4. 9


    Great post. I did go and buy the app after reading this.. just coz I like to play with pictures! So maybe Face Cam might like the post?? :P

    I agree with your points though. We need to keep it real..

  5. 10


    Oooh I spot my name in your Instagram likes! :P
    I knew you were going to write a post something like this, and I love it. We definitely need to keep it real because hey, if I want to see highly airbrushed models, I could see them in mags. Bloggers, we keep it real ;)
    I’m going to get the app for a bit of a play (I wanna remove my eyebags virtually :P).

  6. 11


    I rarely use a filter for my instagram photos, mainly cause I am lazy.

    But I do like the option of lightening a photo, especially if I have a pimple or something.

    Both the pictures are beautiful. Just like you are beautiful with or without makeup. It is like digital makeup, right?

  7. 13


    I was one of the many that liked the pics you posted, and the after is powerful – but not as powerful as the original, which is where all the awesome for the new shot comes from. I agree that we should be proud of who we really are, and just because apps like this are out there, doesn’t mean we all have to jump on the chin removing bandwagon ;-)
    Awesome post!

  8. 14


    Great post :)
    The frames on instagram filters bother me too, but did you know you can turn them off? In the top left on the filters step there is a little frame button which you can tap to toggle on/off. Then you can use the sweet filters minus the annoying frames :)

  9. 15


    I loved this post. I don’t have an iphone. I’m not a blogger who posts beautiful pictures of myself or anything else. But I do have a body image issue. A serious one and this is enlightening and a little infuriating to read about actually. I think you made wonderful points. I do not have any children of my own, but this does worry me very much about raising a daughter when anyone can edit themselves to an unrecognizable/unrealistic image. I was just explaining how damaging the lack of reality in media is for young girls the other day. This post made me a little more aware that it’s not just celebrities and models anymore. Thanks for writing! Great job!

  10. 16


    Great opinion piece Dani. As someone who has learnt to love the skin I’m in, despite it being so different from the norm, airbrushing really irritates me.
    It is becoming too easy to alter appearances, and not doing any favors for accepting diversity and being happy with our appearances.

  11. 17


    Oops published too soon.
    I also share photos of myself online and when doing so, choose the most flattering. But I’d never change the way I look – though some people have suggested I do, or questioned whether I’m comfortable with my appearance or being in photos. Yes, yes I am comfortable with both.
    I’ve shared this with The Centre for Appearance Research who I have been doing some work for.

  12. 18


    You’re one gorgeous girl. Before and after filter.

    It does bother me, the whole editing thing. Sure, I choose the best pics of me to go online {just as I would a photo on the wall in my house}. Sure a filter or quick edit such as the light makes a difference and IS editing, but I think narrowing your face, opening your eyes and smudging out wrinkles is too far. For some though, my filters and stuff would be too much. So that’s where it gets muddy.

    I think if I can still meet people in real life and have them recognise me, then I did ok. Even if they do leave thinking I’m not as filtered or thin or p[polished as I look in my Instagram feed.

    • 19

      Emmaonafarm says

      I’m with you altering eye position etc it is way too much and I think it is obvious when bloggers post over edited photos … When I look at them I just think that it is over posed and certainly not real … I guess it depends on the blog and the market they are after but I’m think most readers would like to see the person as they are not digitally altered to look fabulous and not themselves! There is a reason people love blogs and are moving away from photo shopped magazines to blogs!

  13. 20


    Great post!

    To be fair to you and your followers, I wouldn’t feel too disheartened about the response to the edited photo. I can only speak for myself but I loved this photo for the composition and think the original is just as gorgeous as the edited version. I love that beautiful backdrop, the way the pink cardi complements that and lets face it you are a naturally good looking girl. Put that all together and that’s a winning combination edits aside.

    I think it is a very fine line. Everyone wants to project their best ‘self’ and therefore only tend to publish the best looking pictures of themselves. I guess in the same way you take care in choosing your outfit and applying make up before you go out, editing helps to bring out your best. In saying that, editing to the point where the picture is no longer a realistic representation of yourself is not the right thing to do in my opinion.

    Besides, people are bound to run into you and end up meeting you at functions. Do you really want their first impression to be ‘wow, she doesn’t look like THAT online’? It’s blogging people, not a dating site. The whole point of most blogs is a personal and realistic insight into your life…so why are you trying to obscure that?

  14. 22


    I like the before photos just as much. You have a pretty face, nice eyes, happy smile, clear skin, great hair! To me, the difference seemed only to be in the brightness until you pointed out the widening of the eyes and thinning of the face shape. But it’s not a huge difference. I think plastic surgery does a more dramatic job, costs more, and it’s for keeps! And a lot of the time it looks really wrong!

    I would encourage the app. People would brighten a dark picture of a fruit bowl, and cover up the brown spots on the banana, if they could, so why not for a person? It’s only tweeking a photo, not a real face. No harm done. xx

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    Wow, what a crazy app. I fully agree with you about the impossible standards our society is putting on women especially to achieve perfection, and I applaud you for not being afraid to explore the issue. Definitely something to keep in mind as we raise the next generation

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