Being Photogenic – Anyone Can Do It!

Being Photogenic – Anyone Can Do It!

Here is a very common scenario that I encounter so often in my studio.

Someone comes in ready for a photoshoot, and the first thing they tell me is that they are not photogenic, or that they always look terrible in pictures. We then go through the photoshoot, and at the end of the session the client will look through the images and be amazed at how I managed to make them look so good. Now before you think I am just being self indulgent and celebrating myself as a fantastic photographer, let me tell you how this comes to happen.

Of course there are key things that I as the photographer have to fulfill, such as proper lighting and crisp imagery, but in all honesty, the bulk of the work is down to you, the subject. The truth is, that in order be ‘photogenic’ or to ‘look good’ in photographs, all you need is to feel confident and relaxed for at least 1/100th of a second while someone activates a shutter, and the job is done.  Of course not so easy when there is a camera shoved in your face, a great big light is shining down on you, and memories of school day photographers are contorting your face into an uncomfortable forced grin.


Here are four things to remember the next time you enter a photo studio, or even when your best friend pulls out their iPhone to take a picture of you. They’ll help both you and the photographer to make a great portrait.

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1. Be Natural

The first thing to do, is to do nothing… just remain as natural as you might be in any every day scenario. Feeling the need to pose instantly puts the pressure on you to do something, and you’ll immediately question yourself it is the right or wrong thing to do, and put yourself into a conundrum. If you have a posing idea in advance, then by all means go for it, but if you are not a natural ‘poser’ then just chill out, and act the same way if you were having tea with your best friend, or talking on the phone to someone. Don’t feel there is a need to act out something unnatural, because if you do that, then you’ll have a picture of you trying to do something unnatural, which is guaranteed to reassure your sense of being un photogenic.


2. Work Your Assets

Not such an easy one to realise, but we all have physical attributes that make us uniquely beautiful. Remind yourself of the things you like about yourself, and bring them to attention. What are your most attractive physical attributes? Do you have a defined chin? long eyelashes? shapely shoulders? It is very easy to forget about our best attributes by focusing on the parts you don’t like about yourself. Who cares if your great granny gave you a big nose, it’s beautiful! She also gave you gorgeous jet black hair too, so think about what you like about yourself and ‘give it some polish’.

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3. Show some Emotion

Trying to hide your emotions is literally like putting on a mask.  Unless you have practiced and mastered one that you feel is perfect and photogenic, then you’re face is going to tell a different story than your mood, and that conflict will make a bad picture. Being honest and straightforward with your emotions allows the photographer to connect with you, and that will make a great photo. The face has over 40 muscles in it, and letting your emotions run freely will guide them all to work harmoniously. If you are nervous, and have a furled brow, yet, put a smile on your mouth, you’ll only create a mixed and contorted display of emotion and the result will be a bad photo. If you are anxious, then just be anxious and tell the photographer. Most likely, you’ll be able to laugh about it, which will relax you for a brief moment, and then a good picture will be the result.


4. Just Enjoy It

Alot of people have a portrait done out of need for a profile image, or for family, which can make it feel like a duty.  How about doing it just for the sake of doing it, and not worrying about the consequence?  Most people that consider themselves un-photogenic, are that way for fear of having their photo taken, and avoid it. But what if you turned that idea around? Embrace the fear of being photographed and do it more often. In this digital age, we can always erase bad photos, and we can no longer ‘waste film’, so get out there and start taking more digital selfies, for no reason at all. Be playful with the camera, and do it just for the fun of it. Eventually you’ll lose the fear of the camera, you’ll start seeing good photos of yourself, and bingo, you’ll realise you are a photogenic person! You can even book a session with a photographer just for the enjoyment of it, not just ending up with great image of yourself, but also a tool to a great self image.

Studio323 Photography in Hove is now taking bookings for Photoshoots in June, get in touch with us for more information!



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Eyes Wide Shut

© Ted Davis 2013Eyes Wide Shut – A photographic study of people blinking on camera.

Normally when I am editing through a portrait shoot, I always edit out shots of the sitter with their eyes blinking closed. Of course I do, who wants to see someone with their eyes shut?

Actually, it’s kind of interesting to see.

Blinking is an automated response. Not that exciting on the surface. It happens so quickly and so often, that we tend to forget that we are doing it. But what happens in that split second? Where does our consciousness go during that moment?

When a flash is bright and startles the eye enough that it shuts for a moment is self defense, what is the message that is going to the brain? I would be interested to know more about it,  so I’ve put together this small selection of photos of people with their eyes closed. It places an interesting context onto the subject of blinking, and creates a story about where we go in our awareness during that instant moment that we are trying to protect our eyes.

A recent photo project I carried out in my studio allowed me several portraits in short succession, and from these I have made a small collection of people simply blinking.

Going into a place that is safe, peaceful, quiet, disarming, and silent.

Even if just for a split second.



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Portraits in the Age of Truth


Judy Dench by Martin Schoeller

This morning I watched a breakfast interview with Nicole Kidman, and couldn’t help myself from scrutinizing her face for evidence of surgery, touch ups, and any perceivable credence that she has made attempt to surgically sustain her youth. I was not judging her for choices to remain young on camera, I think all humans have that desire, but moreso, in the back of my mind I wondered about the human condition to remain youthful, and the level of honesty we seek and share with others, about how we age and why we choose to share or conceal our true age and stories.

Now more than ever we live in an age where truth is the flavour of the month. Wikileaks, banker bonuses, priestly secrets bubbling to the surface, MP’s making passes, the list goes on. But how about or personal truths? What age is she? What are his vulnerabilities? Things I personally like to see in a good portrait.

Looking at the portraits of Martin Schoeller, we see work that reveals stark truths about his subjects, with strong lighting and a frame that is all about face. His subjects are very close up and prints normally quite large. We see every detail in a person’s face, and if there is a mask, we see it very closely, and are brought to wonder about what is underneath it, if the subject is indeed not just the mask itself.  In the studio he sits about 4 or 5 feet away from the subject with a longer lense so the sitter has a sense of personal space, however the photo reveals an intimate distance, one we rarely find even with close friends.

Here is a small selection of my favorite works of Schoeller, most of which were taken for the New York Times. Prince




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Snowflake Photographer – Wilson Bentley

All this snow outside, and of course I have been inspired to run out and photograph my regular surroundings under a blanket of snow. Hmm, on second thought,  its bloody cold out, windy, and grey,, not a great time for photographs really.


So a little blog post about another of my favorite photographers named Wilson Bentley. Born in Jericho, Vermont,  Bentley is one of the first known photographers of snowflakes. He perfected a process of catching flakes on black velvet in such a way that their images could be captured before they either melted or evaporated from existence.

Bentley poetically described snowflakes as “tiny miracles of beauty” and snow crystals as “ice flowers.” Despite these poetic descriptions, Bentley brought a highly objective eye to his work, similar to the German photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932) who photographed seeds, seed pods, and foliage.

Bentley died of pneumonia at his farm on December 23, 1931, after walking home six miles in a blizzard, most likely doing what he loved,, photographing snowflakes!

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Turkish Mousetrap Salesman

Turkish Mousetrap Salesman 1924-30, printed 1990 by August Sander 1876-1964A portrait that I have always found intriguing is this photo of a Turkish mousetrap salesman, taken by August Sander during the 1920’s in a post WW1 Germany.

Seated in a formal posture with a direct stare into the camera, the sitter has a serene, yet puzzled expression on his face, and I find myself attempting to empathise and understand him. Knowing his profession and noting his physical condition in the photo, I can’t help also being repulsed, imagining his day to day activities and hygienic complications.

August Sander spent much of his life documenting the people of Germany, choosing subjects from all levels of society, and giving them equal representation in his portraits.

I try to remember this in my own work.

When I make a portrait, of course it is vital to recognise who the sitter is and what it is that they do, however more importantly, I try to connect with them on a human level to share a human experience so that future viewers of the portrait might connect with them, empathise, and try to relate.


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New Website Launched

After three years, it was time to launch a new Website. With the help from the folks at Creative Motion Design I managed to find a simple image based template, an easy CMS, and user friendly WP integration. Enough with the filler space on testing this new Blog and on with some shooting!

Visit my new site for a brief look through some of my work…

Oh, and I’ll need to upload a photo too,,, Here’s a collection of cameras.A pile of cameras

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