Becoming photogenic

This past fall I received an email about a business owner spotlight article for a blog but they needed a photo of me to go with it. There I was a photographer with no photo to send to the editor. Sure we get family portraits every year and even as we changed our focus from family portraiture to working with other entrepreneurs, I didn’t have a single good photo to send in of me by myself.

My husband, Jake, and I had just started to work with small businesses and began photographing entrepreneurs behind the scenes and teaching them how to show their clients the people behind the business. But we weren’t doing this at all for our own business.

I joked that I belonged behind the camera but it was so much more than that. The truth was every time anyone took a photo of me, I saw the flaws. I saw everything I hate about the way I looked and I didn’t want my picture taken.

Jake took my picture the first night and it was freezing and as I scrolled through the photos on the drive home, I cried. We fought. I said things I didn’t mean. Repeat. It took 3 tries over 2 weeks before we finally got a photo that I didn’t hate. Trust me when I say I am the lucky one in this marriage – I found myself the most patient man in the universe.

It took me a few months before I got comfortable having my photo taken. One thing that helped the most was going back through all of the photos of myself over the years that I did like and I noticed most of them had me facing slightly to the right with a crooked no teeth smirk.

I just jumped in and kept trying. I took tons of selfies until I got a good one. I had Jake take more photos of me and I had my daughters take pictures of us together.

Somewhere along the line, it clicked that no one cared even 0.1% as much as I do about my front tooth that has been repaired one too many times. I realized I actually like the photos of me with my wild, curly hair more than when I straighten it because the neat hair just isn’t me. I like the funny photos where I make wild expressions because I have no poker face.

I started doing Facebook lives about photography and at first, I got really nervous but it only took a few videos before I realized no one was staring at my teeth or picking apart my appearance the way I do. They watch to learn what I have to share and I have learned too much about photography over the years to hide behind a camera anymore.

But how does one become photogenic?

If you want to become photogenic, then you have practice being photogenic like you would if you wanted to become good at anything else. You have to think about the purpose of the photo, focus on that, and let go of everything that isn’t perfect.

Look through all the photos you can find of yourself and figure out what your best angles and expressions are! If you aren’t sure, ask your friends and family to help you. Taking some time to do this research can allow you to quickly get a great shot in just a few minutes because you will already know how to stand and smile in a way that you know looks great.

Go on Youtube and watch videos about smizing, something that my 13-year-old does automatically so she can look like a model in every photo. There is a video on Youtube that can help you minimize any flaw, perceived or otherwise. If you want to look thinner, the camera needs to be up higher whereas if you want to look larger you might try a lower angle or turning your body almost straight towards the camera. There are tricks for angles, posing and lighting that can help you feel more confident when you have your photo taken. And if you’re working with a photographer, pay attention and ask questions during your session! Most photographers love to share their knowledge, especially with these little posing tricks and angles.

Becoming photogenic has paid off in ways I didn’t anticipate. When I’m meeting a new client at a park and I don’t know what they look like, they know me right away because they have seen me on social media. When I check out at a gas station or grocery store, people ask me if I’m that photographer they saw and tell me they follow my page, blog, or live videos.

We’re connecting with new clients in a completely different way now. We don’t just help business owners with their personal brand media strategy and images anymore, we are doing this for ourselves and can advise entrepreneurs on a whole new level.

When we need a photo for an article or something, we have tons on hand to fit any crop or purpose. Now you can see photos and videos of me during a session or teaching a class on social media. People are watching my live videos and giving me topics they want to see and it’s so cool to be able to teach people anywhere how to take better photos.

Marketing has changed so much since I first started my business in 2010. It was a piece of cake to find clients on Facebook or just from word of mouth. Moving into personal branding and content marketing strategies this year was quite the learning curve but if you truly want your business to stand out, people need to get to know the person behind the business.

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” – Mark Victor Hansen

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