“I hate the way I look in pictures.”
“I run when I see a camera.”
Chances are you’ve heard a lot of people say that. I have a few of those in my own family!
Yet have you ever stopped and asked them why? Chances are they’ve never really thought about it. You may get the standards response of, “I don’t like the way I look”, yet what is it that they don’t like?
If you asked them to find one photograph taken in the last few years that they love, I’m sure they could find one. There was one that captured their true essence. In their minds, this is who they are. And all the others make them “hate” the way they photograph.
Typically its because they don’t like a certain “thing” that shows up on film. It may be the way their hair is parted. It may be the angle at which an image is taken. Or the way they show too much teeth. Or differences in their eyes. Your job is to find out what it is, and use that to create a portrait that will truly WOW them.
Focus in on the pictures
If they can think of one photograph they love, have them pull it out and concentrate on it. What makes it different from the rest? Very quickly they should be able to pinpoint the difference, and find the reason they truly love it. Once they understand that “difference”, its easier to incorporate that into their upcoming portrait session.
Posing for the mirror
Once a person is armed with their new knowledge, it isn’t enough to know what the “problem” is. Instead, find a way to eliminate the problem from future images. If they don’t like the large smile that is in most of their images, its time for a little practice. Have them look into the mirror several times before the portrait session and practice smiling. When they like what they see, stop and assess how that feels. That’s the smile they are going for; use that same feeling throughout the session.
Overposing isn’t natural
Now that your client is more comfortable with their “problem” area, its easy to fall into the next trap: overposing to compensate for the “problem”. For example, if they focus on making their smile perfect, they risk showing stress around the eyes due to the concentration. There has to be balance. Watch for signs of stress. When you see it, talk about something else. Get their minds off of concentrating and into what they should be doing – having fun at their portrait.
In many cases we simply don’t like a photograph because it doesn’t bring back great memories. It someone takes a quick snapshot and you don’t have your makeup on or your hair is a mess, you automatically go into the “shot” with a negative attitude. Yet if you planned it, have the perfect outfit, are excited about the outcome AND have a great time in the process, you’ll automatically look at the images differently.
Focus in on creating experiences. That’s what sets professional photographers apart from big box photographers. Big box “photographers” have you stand on an X and smile. They don’t care what you look like or if you smile – they just want the revenue on the other side. Yet as a professional, its more about making your clients happy. If you can build your experience into something memorable, and showcase that in your marketing, you’ll have a winner every time.