While your portrait photographer should be able to analyze your face and body and figure out the most flattering camera angles, posing, and lighting, s/he doesn’t know your story. We’re all the most self-critical of ourselves, and you’ll need to be open to helping your portrait photographer understand if there are specific things that you don’t like about how you look in photographs.
At our photography studio, we ask our families, couples, and high school seniors to bring photographs of themselves to their pre-session planning & design meeting, so that we can look at them together, and, as their portrait photographer, I can get a sense of their style and likes and dislikes. If there is something you’re self-critical about, don’t be shy – we’ve heard it all! This is your chance to share your concerns so that your portrait photographer can create family photography, senior portraits, couple's portraits, and engagement photography that you absolutely love!
Left: One of the most common things that people tend to be self-conscious about is roundness in the face. A round face can be turned oval when the portrait photographer instructs the person to turn his/her face to the side in conjunction with positioning the main light to the side.
Center: This high school senior wears white lace for her senior portraits. Girls can wear white because women’s clothing is often textured with lace or ruffles. Boys, however, should not wear white t-shirts or white button-down shirts because of the lack of texture – the shirt will look like a big white blob in the photo and will distract from the face. A white knit sweater with a patterned texture, however, is fine.
Right: In the engagement portrait above, the bride-to-be’s white floral dress, with its lack of texture, would have ended up as a bright white blob had it been a solid white color. It works because only part of the dress is white. To coordinate, the groom-to-be then picked a color for his shirt from one of the colors in his fiancée’s dress for their engagement photography session.
Clothing that is too tight shows unwanted bulges. Clothing that is too loose may make you look heavier than you are. Black is slimming; white is “plumping.” Skirts that are too short make it more difficult to photograph you sitting.
Is there a certain part of your body that you’re sensitive about? Cover it with clothing so that it doesn’t stand out!
Wear colors that you like for your portrait photography session. With the exception of white or cream, any color is fair game if you like it. (We advise against solid white/cream unless the fabric has lace, ruffles, or some other type of detail/texture.)
One of the most common things we hear from our portrait photography clients during the initial consultation is that their smile doesn’t look natural in photographs. The key is to find a portrait photographer who can make you feel comfortable and relaxed, so that your personality can shine through.
Still feeling nervous? Here’s another tip: use your imagination. We once had a client who was a master at this. In her previous career, she had been an art director, so had worked with many models and photographers. As I photographed her, she would tell us about the scene she was imagining that was making her smile or laugh. What makes you happy? What makes you smile? What makes you laugh? Think about those things, and your natural smile will shine.
Whether it's for business portraits, acting headshots or model headshots, family photography, online dating photos, senior portraits or engagement photography, you should treat your portrait photography session as a special occasion. Don’t you want to look your very best? Getting your hair professionally styled is a small price to pay if it means that you’ll love how you look more.
And as far as makeup is concerned, oily skin and the resulting shine is the enemy. Ask your professional makeup artist to do what s/he can to reduce shine, and bring some facial blotting paper with you to your portrait photography session. That said, if you’re someone who simply doesn’t like to wear makeup, even for special occasions, then that’s fine. We don’t need to change who you are to create beautiful portrait photography of you! (We do, however, feel that makeup for women really is necessary for boudoir photography.)
Need I say it? You could follow all our advice above to the tee, but not all portrait photographers are created equal, and without the right portrait photographer for you, everything else will be in vain. In addition to being able to make you feel comfortable and relaxed, the right portrait photographer will be a master at posing. Posing correctly can shave pounds off your portrait, and posing incorrectly can add pounds. With a skilled portrait photographer, you won’t have to pose yourself… which is a very difficult task when you don’t have a mirror in front of you. Not every portrait photographer pays attention to detail and can provide that guidance.
Lighting is another factor. The way a portrait photographer uses light can either remove weight or add it. In addition, are you dark-skinned? Have you struggled to get photographs where you can see both the detail in your face AND have a background that is not washed out? A professional portrait photographer who is an expert with light can retain the proper exposure in both light and dark tones. Furthermore, proper lighting gives depth and dimension to images and makes them feel more real. The most strikingly beautiful photographs are beautiful because of the light.
Invest time in reviewing portrait photographers’ portfolios. Which portrait photographers have portfolios in which their subjects look natural and relaxed and comfortable? The best portrait photographers are those who can make a posed portrait look like it was candid because everyone looks so natural. Also look at the lighting in their images. Look at the highlights and the shadows. Which portrait photographers are the best sculptors of light?
Want to learn more about professional headshots, acting headshots, model headshots, online dating photos, senior portraits, family photography, or engagement photography?