“I hate how I look in pictures.”
Sound familiar? It sounds like just about every client that I work with. Most everyone believes that they do not and will not look good in photographs. I accept the challenge.
We all have photos of ourselves that we hate – snapshots taken in terrible lighting and from an unflattering angle. Not only that, but self-judgment and self-criticism are part of the human condition. Unfortunately, focusing on bad pictures in your past and things you hate about yourself only leads to worse photos in the future. When you’re nervous in front of the camera, you feel self conscious, and then are more likely to look awkward.
Feeling comfortable in front of the camera is the secret to great portrait photography. Here are my tricks to ensure great portrait photography, by helping clients feel comfortable, relaxed, and trusting.
First, I ask clients to list adjectives that describe their ideal photo. Do you want to look confident? Strong? Proud? Kind? Welcoming? Intellectual? These different looks may require different poses, lights, and backgrounds so I want to know your goal before I pick up the camera.
Second, I don’t always to work in a studio. If a traditional gray or white background doesn’t suit you, then we choose a location that describes you and your business. If you’re a therapist, we can find a location with natural light, big windows, and warm colors. If you’re a litigator, we can choose a location with cool tones and a corporate feel. Feeling comfortable in the setting will help you feel comfortable and relaxed overall.
Third, I make portrait photography a collaborative experience. I shoot connected to a computer so that you can preview your photos and make changes to your posture, expression, clothing, and appearance until we achieve the desired look. I want you to love your portrait, so we take time to review what we’re making and work together to make changes until you’re happy.
Fourth, I ask clients to be truthful about their photos and their self-criticism. I assure you, it doesn’t hurt my feelings if you don’t like your photo; it only means that we’re not finished. I ask questions like, “What don’t you like about it?” I may be able to solve the problem with posing and lighting (or perhaps a little retouching.) For example, if you think your nose looks too pointy, we’ll try a different angle. The more honest you can be with me, the better I can serve you.
Next time you see a snapshot of yourself and cringe, don’t write off all photos in the future. Instead, call me, and we’ll schedule a time to make a photo of you that is real, natural, relaxed, and comfortable. I love the challenge of photographing people who don’t think they photograph well – the joy and surprise in their beautiful final product is a terrific reward.