“No, Don’t Take My Picture, I Always Look Bad in Photos”
I hear this alot.
I’ve shot literally thousands of people over the years. I love shooting people. Every so often though someone will tell me not to take their picture, because “they always look bad in photos.
Of course I almost always comply if someone really truly doesn’t want to be photographed, but usually not before first trying to clarify things with them a little more.
Most of the time actually people who don’t want to be photographed really don’t mind. They are just shy and after talking a bit more agree to be photographed. Sometimes people though really do feel strongly about not being photographed and if this is the case I won’t shoot them — well unless it’s some sort of an altercation with a cop or security guard or something and they drew First Blood.
Here’s the thing. The reason why some people “always look bad in photos,” is *exactly* because they object and complain about always looking bad in photos in the first place. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I shoot someone, I might take 5 photos, or 10 photos, or 500 photos. But I don’t publish all 500 of course. I only process and publish the ones that I think are the absolute best. I want whomever I’m shooting to look their best and I want my work to reflect positively on them.
When I have 500 photos to choose from, the chances of my getting a good picture are *much* greater than when I only get three.
So the more comfortable you are with the photographer, the more you relax and let them do their job and even encourage them instead of objecting, the more likely that they will get a good shot of you. If the photographer senses that you are resistent, or even worse if you stop them after only taking a few shots, you almost assure that the resulting photo won’t be good.
My advice to people that want to look good in photographs? The key to getting a great photo taken is to make the photographer as comfortable shooting you as possible. Never object to being photographed or say that you look bad in photos. Never stop them while they are shooting. Relax, engage with them while they are shooting. Pose a little, but also be natural. Ask them about their camera, make *them* feel relaxed and unrushed. Ask them if you are in the best light or if you should move somewhere else. Because the more time they spend shooting you, the more total frames they end up making, the more likely that they will get a good one.
So if you don’t like how photos of you turn out, consider the interaction with the photographer. If your goal is to get the best photo possible of you, your job should be to encourage them and have them make as many frames with you as possible. Give them 50 frames to work with and they’ll get a better final photo of you than if you only let them have 3.
Most of the time that I’ve taken photos of relaxed people they end up liking them. I’ve had several people use my photo of them for their avatar online or link to the photos or republish them. But I think the key to taking a good photograph is how well you communicate to the photographer that you are comfortable with them shooting you.