As a professional photographer a good portion of my clients arrive on set, saying “I’m just warning you I hate having my photo taken!”. I’m never really sure if they actually mean hate the process or simply hate the way they look? Ok firstly let’s not use the word hate it’s really not a nice word and has a definite sense of malice about it. Let’s use ‘dislike’ if we need to express some element of displeasure. This is really a conundrum, the client has booked the shoot, paid good money, set aside valuable time and most probably paid to have their hair done and spent even more money a new outfit. All this effort, time and expense to do something they seemingly dislike with a passion, strange!
I too have been a perpetrator this phenomenon. There was a time that I thought my smile wasn’t bright enough, maybe my teeth weren’t prefect enough or simply white enough. So, my answer to that was, don’t smile. Over the years I developed a technique of smiling that only showed a glimpse of my teeth but achieved the obligatory positive facial movements. I became very good at it and was successful in my career which involved face to face contact and public speaking. When I was having media and event engagements as part of my role, I would bring this ‘face’ to show the world that I was a competent, professional and trustworthy person. The defining moment for change, was the day after I had just come back from holiday and I got told I look tired and overly serious! At the time I felt amazing after an amazing holiday, something had to change.
You see, smiling is as much a feeling as it is a facial expression. You can smile with your eyes as much as you can with your mouth, so my teeth or the quality of my smile really had nothing to do with it. It needed to come from within! Your face by most accounts, is your most well-known feature (keeping it clean), it represents you and in this digital age it’s your calling card. You look at yourself, all of about 5 minutes a day, everyone else looks at you for the rest of it. This notion supports the argument that your opinion of your face is less important than those who have to look at you all day. In actual fact a good way to lose friends is to start a conversation with what you dislike about yourself, least of all your face. You see beauty does truly start from within, it’s a blend of your visual appearance, the way you feel about yourself and how you treat others. We should be embracing photos of ourselves, they are memories, moments in time that define us. I am by no means condoning the hyper culture of selfie making but seriously a bit of self-love goes a long way.
Every morning, when you are in front of the bathroom mirror, take the time to appreciate your face, the thing that everyone knows you by. People rarely forget faces but the same can’t be said for names. Make some faces, happy, sad, absent maybe and look at how they appear to you. You can even practice smiling simply by thinking of something happy or funny, sounds ridiculous but you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s not like you are going to call yourself idiot for pulling faces, if you do I’ve got the number of a great therapist. All those lines, shadows and marks tell a story of life, your life. They are worth capturing because they are you. Making photos with you in them, should be celebrated because it’s a moment in your life and the people or things that are important to you.
I have a good friend that is a reconstructive surgeon who once told me, what we think is normal is not even close. Supermodels are abnormalities! Stereotypically pretty, fit, cut, tanned people are rarities. These people make up less than .001% of the world’s population. There are more people affected by cleft palette than are in the ‘perfect’ group. I would say that the latter is more common and closer to normal and the proverbial, dare I say it, freaks are the ones we supposedly admire.
My point is, make the most of what you were given, take care of yourself and be good to your soul. The effort you put in will come through in the photos you make, whether its with your family or a professional photographer. I encourage you to be in more photos that someone else is taking and practice feeling wonderful, it will improve your spirit and your connection with other human beings. Then when you show up for your new headshots, we’ll get what we need, the real you in the best possible light.
PS: For the record boys, it's not ok to skip the moisturiser. Your adoring fans will love you for it 😊.