I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone say ‘I am not ‘photogenic’. To be honest, I hate that statement. I mean who isn’t ‘photogenic’? To me everyone, I don’t care who you are, is or at least can be ‘photogenic.’ I love the saying, ‘photogenic’ doesn’t have to do with the way people look, but instead how they feel and behave in front of the camera. Lindsay Adler said this, “a lot of the time people who don’t feel photogenic are already afraid of having their photograph taken, which then shows in their expression. Our job is to break down those barriers, help our subjects feel confident, and then find the angles, poses, and lighting to highlight that individual’s strengths.” she then explains, “Nothing is more rewarding than creating a stunning image for someone who otherwise believed they were not photogenic.”
Connect with your subject
The best way for you to help someone become ‘photogenic’ is by connecting with them. By making that distinct effort to connect with your client you put them at ease about the whole thing. I tell people all the time to find out everything they can about their clients prior to their shoot. Their interests, favorite food, family situation, literally everything! Stalk them! Trust me, people love it, especially the younger generation and they generally won’t be freaked out by the fact you already know their life story. You want to become familiar with their passions so that you can bring them up as a conversation starter. Breaking the ice by sharing something you have in common with them helps them realize, “hey she’s not a photographer shes my friend, I can connect with her.” Matthew Jordan Smith sent Aretha Franklin her favorite flowers prior to their first shoot together and he’s been her photographer ever since. How did he know her favorite flower you ask….he stalked her online.
Study your subject before the shoot
When doing online research pay attention to the other pictures they have posted of themselves. Are their images all of the same side of their face? Are they wearing glasses or a hat? These little details, help you better understand your client. If I have a new model coming on a shoot and I haven’t worked with her, I will go back to her portfolio and see how other photographers shoot her. If everyone’s showing images of her left side 9 times out of 10, she doesn’t look good from the right side. I will look and see if there is an angle, a pose or something that they like best and try to incorporate that into my posing flow as they are probably most comfortable with that. I mean if they posted it in their portfolio or on some type of social media they must have liked it for some reason, right?
What’s the photo’s purpose
Standing in front of someone, holding a camera about to take your picture is nerve racking! Insecurities start to come to mind and people get all awkward. They start to overthink things and they can’t relax. Being able to step away from your camera and connect with them about things they are comfortable and familiar with will help them relax. It will help them loosen up and trust you when they feel that you care about them, just as much as you care about them looking good for their images. And once that happens they instantly become ‘photogenic’.
The more you study your clients and share with them the more ‘photogenic’ they become and the easier your job is. Allow them to see you care about who they are and that your not as intimidating as your camera makes you seem. I promise they will ask you to keep stalking them after that. :)
Photography in this post is ©2018 Erin Holmstead