Why are selfies back-to-front?

I’ve never really taken selfies and receive very few.

A few months back, my daughter sent a selfie of her and her boyfriend with their new balcony furniture. Only I asked them, where they were, when they took the photo, because the balcony was open to the wrong side (they were standing in front of the door to the lounge, with the door to the bedroom on the left… Only in their flat, the door to the bedroom is on the right, when you are standing in front of the door to the lounge!

Then I took a selfie of myself last week, I play St. Nick at the Advent evening at the local Kindergarten and I had grown a beard over the last 2 months, so that I didn’t have to wear a fake beard. The first thing I noticed was that all the notices on the noticeboard behind me were back-to-front.

So, why are selfies so screwed up?

Back to front? Explain, please. Pic example, perhaps

Taken with the selfie camera on my smartphone. Sorry for the hand in the way… Just a quick shot, but as you can see, all the letters are back-to-front.

Because this is what you’d expect to see, i.e. same as looking in a mirror. Imagine posing for your selfie and if you raised your right arm the left moved on your screen?

Usually a setting in the camera app if you want to turn it off.

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But for somebody else looking at the image afterwards, it is a bit of a “wtf?” moment. Especially if there are known landmarks or text in the image.

Agreed! On mine if I turn the selfie mirroring off the screen still shows mirrored when you take it.

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You see, now that makes sense - I was just about to edit my post to ask why it doesn’t do that automatically…

They’re only mirrored before I take them on my iPhone. They’re the right way round after they are taken.


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My pixel turns it round after the picture or video is taken but now that I think about it I have seen people posting mirror image pictures so maybe some phones / camera apps don’t do this.


My iPhone doesn’t do that. I don’t think it is something I would like to have.

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What an interesting and thought provoking phenomena. Three photos:
First is a screen shot of my iPhone 11 as I set up a selfie.
Second is the actual selfie from my Photos.
Third is the same shot taken with the normal front camera.

The only thing that comes to mind that is similar is when we used to use film in a camera. The actual result on the film was a negative, which looked like the screen shot of the selfie, backwards. It got “corrected” when you printed the photo.

The only reason the selfie camera image is reversed before you take it is to make it easier for you line things up - just imaging moving left and the image moving right. It’s just convenience. I still see images and videos on the web reversed though and it puzzles me why.

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Because they’re taking them in a mirror and using the camera on the back of the phone rather than the front facing selfie camera in selfie mode. In selfie mode the camera is acting like a mirror on the screen but doesn’t normally record the picture that way. If you shoot at a mirror there is no way for the camera to know, and it can’t undo the reversal. (Although, with the advancement of AI, who knows about the future. Attention AI developers, work on a mirror detector AI.)

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Some are not obviously in a mirror though. They’re just reversed. I guess they could have cropped out the tripod/camera that’s pointing at the mirror…

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I think the scenario is group shots. Imagine you and a bunch of mates take a selfie, you look at the phone, you’re on the left.

Then you see the pic posted, you’re on the right!? So selfie cameras flip the image to match what you all saw on the phone.

I have never taken a “selfie” so to speak. I took a picture of myself in a mirror with my first camera cellular phone, but it wasn’t called a “Selfie” back then. I also decided the quality was not there for me, even though it was a HTC Evo 3D. I loved that device but like everything else I love, it was short lived. They stopped making updates for it and I was unable to find a new battery for it.

Since, I have covered these camera lenses with black tape and wish I could physically remove them, as well as the microphones. I don’t like the fact that we’re under constant surveillance and that this is how our own technology is being used against us. I am not being paranoid. Snowden’s revelations were just the tip of the ice as to what’s going on with surveillance on us, under the guise of “protection from terrorism”.

I’ve also noticed from friends that have taken “selfie” videos that the picture is inverted. I first noticed it when a friend pictured himself in a car, then made a video. I asked him if he bought a car that was built for drivers in the U.K. because it appeared that the steering wheel was on the right (starboard) side. He told me his camera reversed the image which I could never figure out why. It doesn’t make any sense to me, so I stay with a traditional (digital) camera. I would give up a “Smart” Cellular telephone if I did not need navigation. I have a GPS that’s kind of difficult to use and requires me to have an internet connection and download stuff when I want to use it, and I have to connect it to a P.C. to do it. It really is a big hassle.

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Some videos are “stolen”, they are uploaded without permission and in order to get around the copyright filters, the uploader reversed the image in the hope that YouTube & Co. won’t take the video down.

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I have also seen “pirate” videos cropped funnily and/or with the audio modified by pitch bending or something like autotune. The YouTube videos of TV shows, like John Oliver’s, seem to be frequently modified this way if not from the official channels. In fact I just found one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVH8vmIUuCg

I was referring to content uploaded anywhere on the web by a friend. His own video of himself doing a V Log type video. It was him and his own video, his own content. No other media or sound was used. Not even a backing track. A camera should picture what is, not flip or invert pictures.

Here in France, lots of television is back to front, and I’ve never worked out why. Someone will be walking through a town, taking to the camera, and all the signs in the background are mirror images. It’s really disconcerting and I can’t understand a) why it happens here when I’ve never, ever seen that on UK tv, and b) why the producers think it’s okay! It happens on lots of programmes, so it’s definitely a ‘normal’ thing here.