After shooting literally thousands of headshots over the past ten years, I’m pretty sure the number one comment I get from a majority of my clients is, “I’m not at all photogenic!” Or, “I’ve never had a photo taken of me that I like.” If this sounds like something you would say, I have a few photo shoot tips for you, including the real reason you’re not photogenic.
I’m also sharing how the right photographer can make all the difference in your next photo shoot, and a few tips for how to get comfortable in front of the camera, because — trust me — I’m right there with you when it comes to not liking how we look in photos.
If you are that person who says you’ve never had a good photo of yourself, one you really like and are happy to share, I’m here to tell you — it’s not your fault!
The truth is, cell phones have made everyone into a photographer. But most people don’t know the first thing about taking a photo that flatters someone else.
And on top of that, those of us who didn’t grow up in the cell phone generation aren’t used to having cameras pointed at us in every social situation.
Back before digital photography, someone might snap a photo or two on film, but weeks and months would pass before the film was developed, so we pretty much forgot about it. And chances are, when the photo came back, it was never shared publicly — just slipped quietly into a family photo album to pull out and laugh about later.
The truth is, not many of us ever learned how to light a subject so they look amazing, or how to pose people to accentuate their best features. Even if you grew up taking selfies, you might know what angles and lighting you like on yourself, but that doesn’t account for the different face shapes and angles that are flattering to others. That’s the reason group photos can be so hard — one person looks great, but everyone else is asking for a re-take.
So, my photo shoot advice to you is this: It’s not your fault that you’ve never had a photo of yourself you like. It has more to do with the photographer than the subject.
I believe that everyone is beautiful, and it’s only a matter of finding the right lens, the right lighting, the right pose — and of course the right photographer who will work with you to create a photo that flatters.
Which leads me to my second photo shoot tip: Be sure to choose a photographer who cares about creating flattering photos.
Trust me when I say that not every photographer is concerned about this.
In my headshot and personal brand photography business, I take multiple photos of every client, from slightly different angles, to make sure we get not the one I like best, but the one my client likes best. I go up and down on a stool to capture different angles. I also pose my clients sitting as well as a standing.
And I spend time listening to my clients to find out if they have any insecurities about having their photo taken — that way I can pose and light them in the way that is the most flattering, by highlighting their best features and playing down the ones they may not like so much.
I also send multiple proofs to my clients, so they are the ones who choose the image they like best. (Many photographers choose for the client — they get one retouched image and never had a chance to see if there were any other poses they liked better.)
In case you think I’m exaggerating about photographers who don’t prioritize creating flattering images, let me tell you a story:
I have several clients who have, for various reasons, wanted to hire another photographer. It could have been because the other photographer was more affordable, or because I wasn’t available for their date or location.
Well, what has happened almost every time is that a month or a year later, I get a call from that client telling me they want to work with me again. And at their photo shoot, I often hear how their previous photographer didn’t pose them in the most flattering way, didn’t take time to listen to their concerns, didn’t let them choose their favorite image, or over-photoshopped them because the photos themselves weren’t shot in the most flattering way.
They come back to me because they know they’ll get a photo that flatters them, one they’re happy to share on their website and in their social media. And that, my friend, is the proof that you can have a photo you like of yourself — all you need is the right photographer.
If you’ve never had a photo you like of yourself, chances are you’re not ever comfortable getting in front of the camera. After all, what makes you think it will be any different this time around?
I’m here to tell you that you can be comfortable, even confident, in front of the camera — it all comes with a little practice.
My favorite photo shoot tips for getting comfortable in front of the camera are to relax, have fun, and remember it’s only a photo — you can always retake it if you don’t like it.
Laugh with your photographer. A genuine smile will always beat that fake one you learned as a kid.
A good photographer will get to know you, have a conversation, and put you at ease about having your photo taken.
Finally, my number one photo shoot tip for getting comfortable in front of the camera is to shoot often! Seriously, just do it! I’ve forced myself to have headshots taken multiple times each year, and every time I do, it gets easier.
If you think you’re not photogenic, it’s not your fault — you just that you haven’t found the right photographer!
Want to know more photo shoot tips for taking photos that flatter? Download my free guide here, 10 Ways to Instantly Look Better in Photos.
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