The first thing 9 out of 10 people who walk into my studio say to me is: “I am not photogenic”.
Over the past 20 years I have learned to listen and nod in agreement. Young or old, thin or full figure, bold or a full head of curls – it doesn’t matter. Pretty much all of us think we are not photogenic.
When I was 16 I had the great fortune of getting cast on the Israeli version of Glee/Saved by the bell television show. I loved acting and was so excited to be on the show. My character on the show had all kinds of issues she was dealing with, and so in most episodes I would deliver these heartbreaking speeches with a serious face while tearing up. I still remember the day all that changed. It was when the writer of the show came to visit the set while we were filming. He was very cute, but cuteness aside – he knew TV, and I valued his opinion. So after capturing on film yet another heartbreaking tale by my character which I delivered flawlessly, tears and serious face and all, I walked up to him and asked: “what do you think?” The writer’s reply was: “Great as always, Rinat!”. But as I turned to walk away he added, almost as a side note: “You look much prettier when you smile”. That shocked me. I just never thought of that before. I went back on set for another take of that scene, and I’m going to give you one guess as to what you think changed from the previous takes…yes, you got it – I delivered the complete heart-wrenching speech – with a big smile on my face! To this day, if I ever come across this scene (they still show it on re-runs in Israel) I laugh to myself. The things we do to look good in front of the camera.
Yes, we all want to look our best in front of the camera. But don’t we anyway?
The dictionary definition of Photogenic is:”Looking attractive in photographs or on film“. It’s not “a person with a nose too big for his face” or “a young lady with braces”. So why, oh why have we decided we are not photogenic? Are we not attractive? In who’s opinion? Let me go ahead and answer these questions collectively: Of course we are ALL attractive. Because attractiveness is not about missing or having a specific feature.
It’s about how we feel. Research shows that men and women rate confidence as a very attractive trait (Buunk, Dijkstra, Fetchenhauer, & Kenrick, 2002). Are you hearing this? I said confidence. Not blue eyes. Not slender arms. Confidence. When we are happy in our own skin – it shows – In life and on camera, because, and this old saying is correct – the camera doesn’t lie.
So please remember that next time you come into my photography studio for your close up. When my clients walk in, after they tell me they are not photogenic, and I quietly nod, I ask them: “Have you ever had a photo taken of you that you liked?” They usually look surprised when I ask that, raise their eyebrows and say “sure”. When I ask for more details about that shot, I usually find out they were feeling particularly good about themselves the day that photo was taken. Confidence it is then.
My clients come to me because they know I have the knowledge and experience to help them feel and look good during the portrait session in front of the camera – which will translate into great portraits.
The problem starts when you are in front of a non-professional photographer holding a camera – the smartphone wanna be button clicker. Since it’s never about the camera, and all about the lighting and the posing (yes, even a natural looking pose is still created by a professional photographer’s guidance), most of these snapshots come out painfully awkward.
Here are the top 5 reasons that, in my opinion, we think we are not photogenic:
Reason #1. The “photographer”, AKA Smartphone camera button pusher, has no idea how to help you look your best – they place you in bad lighting and never mention your shirt has a big stain on it. Good luck with that!
Reason #2. This one goes deep. After years of reveal sessions with my clients sharing the proofs of their portrait session, I realized that many times – it’s not about the photo. It’s about the fact that we don’t accept ourselves. It has nothing to do with how you look and all to do with how you feel about yourself. For that I suggest that you do some deep soul searching before your portrait session. I am a huge believer in life coaching as it has fundamentally changed my life and made my life oh so much better in so many ways I could not have ever imagined was possible. After years of being life coached I learned to be a life coach myself and now offering the unique perspective of life coaching using photographs – you can read more about it in my life coaching website:
Reason #3. The last time you had your portrait taken you had zits – now you have wrinkles. Back to the fact that the camera does not lie, it sure does shows the changes time brings. I suggest you learn to embrace aging for two reasons: 1, if we are lucky, it happens to all of us – so there is no escaping it, may as well embrace it 2. Some of the most attractive people I photographed were NOT 15 with perfect skin. We are beautiful at any age, as long as we allow ourselves to be.
Reason #4. You are not comfortable in front of the camera. Well, really, why should you be? I mean, common, if you are in front of a camera you are about to get shot. Yes, this type of “shoot” is not going to kill you, but it sure sometimes sure feels like you are standing there naked with your soul at hand. It goes back to feeling confident and letting go of control, which is two of the hardest things for us to do as humans who live in such a critical society.
Reason#5. You have no idea how to pose. And the button pusher has no idea how to guide you. Or let you know that the way you stand makes you look really funny. Oy. Now that is painful to see.
In effort to break the photogenic myth, and in consideration of the fact that pretty much every 4 years old is a Smartphone photographer, I created this short video with 5 tips to help you get some great snapshots that you will LOVE – no matter who is capturing it! click here to watch, and please help me break the photogenic myth – share this blog post and video with anyone you ever heard saying “I am not photogenic”.
Want more posing tips? For the month of September 2018, I am offering the “I AM NOT PHOTOGENIC” studio portrait special. Come into the studio and let’s capture the best studio portrait you ever had! If you are the one always behind the camera (yes I am talking to you, mom) because you hate how you look in photos – remember that the holidays are around the corner – come into the studio for a family session this September and let me help you look your amazing self in your family portraits. As a “Thank you!” for booking the session you will receive an 11×14 mounted and framed portrait ready to go on your wall – because I KNOW you ARE photogenic! Use the CONTACT page on my website to request more info about “I AM
NOT PHOTOGENIC” studio session – I look forward to showing you how photogenic you are.