Here's a recent picture of myself, taken in a bathroom mirror. It's not something to write home about, and it won't win any photography awards, but it's pleasant and it doesn't make me look especially old or fat. "So what?" you say.
What makes it worth posting here is that lately I am old and fat....well, sort of. Anyway, you'd think I was if you only saw pictures other people take of me nowadays. What I want to know is, how come I DON'T look that way when I take my own picture, and I DO when somebody else does?
Maybe you've had the same experience. Do pictures of you come out better when you take them yourself? If so, why? I'll take a stab at an answer.
And here's that answer. What all the pictures in this post have in common is that they were all taken in front of my bathroom mirror. No wonder they look good. Like everybody else I've had years of experience mugging in front of bathroom mirrors, trying out angles and expressions that make me look good. When you take your own picture it's often in a mirror, so you're taking them in a medium you're already familiar with and know how to charm.
Not only that, but there's usually an artificial light nearby and filtered sunlight coming through the window. If the bathroom has white walls then you have something approaching a photo studio.
Now let's look at your friends. They're handicapped right from the start. They're probably taking your picture outside with no nearby light source and no mirror to allow you to fine tune your expression. Outside you're just a statistic. You're a generic human who exists just to give scale to your environment.
Even in a living room there's usually no nearby light and no interesting ambient light. Professionals have all sorts of equipment to get around this problem, but if your friend isn't a pro then forget it...he's not going to capture the real, philosophical you. He'd need a studio for that...or a bathroom mirror. Interesting, huh?
BTW, the bottom two pictures were taken late at night with only artificial light. They're grotesque but that's what I was aiming for. I like to imagine that I could pass for Long John Silver or Scrooge or Captain Hook or Uriah Heap (the Dickens character, not the musician). The raspy white crud on the bottom is the residue of post-it reminders. I wish I'd cleaned the mirror first.
Also BTW: How do you like the tiny hair near the tip of the nose? I better cut it off. I have to go to the dentist tomorrow and I'm afraid he'll become fixated on it.