Sunday 13 January 2019

2018: A Year in Bad Portraits (Welcome to a year's worth of awkward photo-fails).

Hello you. 

If you've ever dropped by to visit me here in any given January over the last 5 years you'll be familiar with the concept of my bad portraits. But, if not ... let me explain:
  • they're my visual equivalent of a New Year detox; 
  • they're a means for me to balance out a year of sharing the best, most flattering photos of myself - (these days that happens over on Instagram - @withjuliekirk - where like clockwork, every 4th photo I share is one of me) -  with the ones that didn't quite make the cut. For reasons which will become obvious.
  • they're a flushing-out, a fresh start, an enema for the ego!
  • and they're a chance for me to laugh at myself ... and offer you the same opportunity.
They're my BAD portraits ...

As I say each year, you are free to laugh at the following content. In fact, please do, because otherwise what am I even doing sharing them?! 
  • This project is never about body-shaming or self-critique. At worst it's self-deprecating ... at best, it's a healthy self-assessment, and I share mine in the hope that it'll make you feel better about yours! 
  • And I never share photos that make me feel bad, or ones that  don’t make me laugh, so you're absolutely safe to laugh along.
  • So, let the guilt-free voyeurism commence ...

My Year in Bad Portraits: 
The 2018 Edition.

I'm going to start with a photo in which I look like an oil painting.

It's just a pity that the oil painting in question is one of Rembrandt's self portraits.

Granted, dude could paint ... but he was no looker was he?

Below I've put together my Top Modelling Tips so we can all learn from my mistakes. Because these kinds of selfies - where you accidentally take a photo while clutching your phone in a clammy hand, and then you end up looking like an old Baroque artist - are just the worst.  Right?

Modelling Tip No.1: Find your Angles. 

Please note:  this one is never your angle:

Unless you have an especially interesting under-the-chin tattoo, there's never a good reason for you to be taking a selfie from below.

Ever. (As these shots prove.)

From above my loves. Always from above.

Modelling Tip No.2: Always be aware of what your hands are doing.

Left: despite how it appears, I'm not actually trying to keep paparazzi at bay with a modest "No photos please" gesture. I'm just trying to get my phone's camera to take a selfie (where you hold up a hand to set the self-timer going). And then. ... I guess I got distracted. Which happens.

Right: At first this seems like a half-decent outfit shot (of a vintage jumper I found in a charity shop), the kind any fashion-oriented Instagrammer might share. But, then - as I did while deciding which shot to share - you might just notice where my it looks like my right hand is resting. Oh. Dear.

And you might think I'm an entirely different kind of Instagrammer ...

Modelling Tip No.3: Cultivate your 'Signature Pose'

And while yo're practicing it in front of your bedroom mirror,  just be glad that 'startled Scooby Doo' is the one that comes naturally to me, and not you:

Modelling Tip No.4: Be like an actor and think yourself into the character you're trying to project.  

Case in point: 
  • here on the left I'm channeling that look your mother gave you when you arrived home later than your curfew when you were 8 and where she claims she was just about to call the police to find you.

  • Meanwhile, on the right I'm bringing to mind all those times in life when you're in public, and you don't want to make a big fuss but your stomach has just sank because you've suddenly thought "Oh God, where did I leave my keys? I thought they were in my pocket, but they're not in my pocket."
(Honestly ... posing for outfit photos is a sure fire way to foster a greater respect for models!)

Modelling Tip No.5: Be a blank canvas so you can easily adopt other personas.

Here, I've managed to appear so blank ... I've accidentally allowed myself to be possessed by Neo from The Matrix:

(Seriously, all I was trying to get was a selfie with the sky while I was out walking! Why does this happen to me?)

Additionally ...

  • On the left my mother and I clearly tapping into our inner thugs with our 'We're out to hot-wire cars' looks:
  • While on the right I'm tapping into the 'Forthright nun' pose so, at least whenever I move on from modelling I'll have a future in Call the Midwife: 

Modelling Tip No.6: Leave behind your self-consciousness and really feel the moment.

Genuinely, neither of these photos were staged to look funny. But as to what I was really doing in them?

Buggered if I know.

Modelling Tip No.7: At the very least ... try not to look like the walking dead:

And, finally ...

 Modelling Tip No.8: Play with the camera by embracing your inner child. 

  • On the left I've somehow managed to access the look of a sly and crafty five year old drugged-up on too many sweets.
  • And on the right ... well ... I guess this is the face I make when eating crisps in a library whether I am aged 2 or 42!


Now, while not strictly part of my modelling tips ... no Bad Portraits round-up would be complete without a shot of me crying and eating!  (Generally in life, if I'm not doing one I'm doing the other!)

  • Left: don't worry, I'm crying for nice reasons, I was watching the  movie God's Own Country on Netflix for what must have been the 2nd or 3rd time. And yes. I still cry. Every time. 
  • And Right: If you've followed my Bad  Portraits in past years you'll already be aware that James often takes advantage of a moment where I'm standing still with my mouth full (no comment) to capture a shot of me where I can't complain at how long he takes to take a bloody photo! 


And so ... we've reached the end of another year of my bad portraits. If you'd like to share my selfie-struggles with a friend, or on social media, please do. In a photo-manipulated world, the more people embracing the fun to be had from photo-fails, the better! 

Now, if you don't mind, seeing as how I've carried out my penance ... I'm diving back into another 12 months of sharing only the well-lit, poised photos, shot from above (always from above).   

Right that's it ... you can leave now, before I give you that look. You know 'the look'. This one (OK, maybe it's more of a glare):

(Jeez. I was relaxed, happy, on holiday, reading when this was taken. I wasn't even trying to look annoyed in this photo. But I do. Clearly it's an innate skill.)

Julie x

Psssssst, before you go: if you've ever missed any of my awful faces - fear not - you can catch up with them all here:


  1. I did smile, quite a few times :). But mostly admiringly, because I don't think I'd have the nerve to go public with my own out-takes - I've usually clicked on 'Move to Trash' within a second. So hats off to you for your lovely, amusing writing and sheer gutsy honesty :).

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  2. I love this annual post of yours! I'm definitely one of those people who immediately deletes the (many) bad photos that I take. My selfie taking technique leaves much to be desired! Thanks for bringing a smile to a dreary January morning.

  3. I was only thinking last night that we were due a bad portraits blog from you. This always brightens my day. Thank you so much

  4. Hahaha ... loved this post (and all the others)! I laughed out loud and actually squealed when I saw you were reading The Kiss Quotient in the last photo (which was my joint favourite book read in 2018 - Eleanor Oliphant was the other favourite).

  5. So funny. 99% of photos of me are deleted. Occasionally one gets through where I look normal! Usually I look dangerous or confused. My usual comment is " this is not what I look like".

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