Who’s the most photogenic? You’d be surprised.

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Why is that?

If you’ve ever watched something like the “Top Model” shows you’ve probably seen some of the less ‘beautiful’ models do very well – and indeed some of the best models in the world are not stellar beauties.

So in the end – it is not “looks” that make you photogenic!

Read that again. It is not your looks that will make you photogenic. I’ve have had many very attractive people in front of my camera, and they are camera shy. My working hypothesis is that they’ve been told their whole life they are attractive – but they see all the flaws in their photos. “How,” they might ask themselves, “Could I be seen as attractive and yet ‘my left eye droops a bit’ or ‘my jaw is such a funny shape’ or ….” The list of flaws is seemingly endless.

And what is worse, because they are so self-conscious of these flaws, they sabotage the photo to be worse than they actually appear.

My Own Experience

Because I sell photography to people to use in their promotion such, I decided to put my own photo on my business cards  and at first I was horrified at the results. “My goodness” (or something to that effect) I thought, “Look how uneven my eyes are, and how little hair I have left and it’s all grey, and look at those lines – I look like Keith Richards.”

Then I sat back and said – “Okay, if I can’t be the handsome young man I ‘imagine’ I was – I’ll remember what I keep telling others. Relax, and remember that what I see in the photos is not necessarily the same thing others see. My friends and family will see their love for me.”

Nothing is more photogenic than “confidence!”

When I took on the attitude that I’d be a photogenic person despite my lack of looks, that if I can’t be handsome I’d be a ‘character’ full of life and experience – my photos started to reflect more of the person I actually am.

And thinking back to all the people I’ve photographed who were the easiest to get a great photo – they’ve all been very self confident and accepted that their looks are not ‘who they are,’ and they will still be the very best person they can be.

How to get there?

  1. Breathe – I always get my customers to take a couple of slow, deep breaths before we start doing the photos. I literally watch the stress start to melt away.
  2. Tell yourself “Screw it, I’ll be a happy person” some would say ‘fake it until you make it.’ Pretend you are uber confident – picture yourself as ‘that person’ you’d always want to be. Imagination can really work to put you into the right head space.
  3. Don’t look at the lines, blemishes, grey hair, uneven features, jawlines, etc. They don’t matter in the end. What matters is your eye contact with the camera and the naturalness of the smile. If you nail those two things – you’re photogenic.
  4. NEVER SAY CHEESE. It pushes the mouth in the wrong direction. The best thing I find to say is “Hah… hah… hah.” It works wonders.
  5. Relax your jaw, puff out your cheeks if you’re feeling tense in jawline.
  6. Remember to breathe. Yes, that means breath in and then breath out. Repeat until the session is finished.
  7. And the bonus tip – to take off those extra pounds we all have: stretch your spine a lot, lean slightly towards the camera, push your butt away from the camera, (and this will feel odd) push your forehead towards the camera about 3 centimeters (just enough to feel a pull in the neck while remembering to keep your spine stretched), then lift your jaw up a bit. Yes, you’ll feel like a turtle, but it looks great. Try this in the mirror to see what it does.

The most important part of my job as a head shot and commercial photographer is to help coach people to get the best photos. Yes, I know a ton about lighting, camera handling, posing, composition, retouching, etc. But helping people relax and be the best they can be is what makes my job so wonderful.