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The 3 lies we tell ourselves about being photographed

I am a photographer. I make a point to chat with each client before I begin photographing them. I want to know more about them so I can help them be themselves and look and feel confident and comfortable in their photographs. You would be surprised how many people want to love photographs of themselves but can count on one hand how many photographs of them they love - from their whole life.

I purposely ask every client what they love and don't love about themselves in photographs. I have been asking this question of every client for almost 8 years. The answers are so interesting!

What I learned is that EVERYONE has SOMETHING they don't love! I didn't even know that hating your gums was a thing - but everyone has something they check out in their photograph. (For me, it's my double chin!)

Why ask the question if everyone dislikes something? As your photographer, I believe it is my job to understand what you are looking for and how I can best photograph you. Sure, you could show up, I could tell you to smile and I could take your high-quality photograph. BUT THAT WOULD MAKE ME TAKE THE SAME PHOTOGRAPH OF YOU THAT ANYONE COULD TAKE (AND HAS BEEN TAKING!) - and you would hate it.

I want to take the BEST photographs you have ever had taken of you. I want to SEE YOU and show your viewer you at your BEST.

Did you know a smile has an arc? It's the biggest at the beginning and begins to immediately fade.... if your eyes tend to get small with a really large smile, then I will pause for just a moment before taking your photograph so that I still get a beautiful smile AND your eyes wide open! The sarcastic woman in me wants to interject sarcasm here, SHOCKER! Imagine telling your photographer what you don't like about your other photos and they actually help you avoid it! That's why you hire a pro :)

Back to my title, "The 3 lies we tell ourselves about being photographed." If someone believes something about themselves, how is that a lie? Good point. It is their TRUTH, until they believe otherwise.

The 3 things I hear most often are (1) I am not photogenic, (2) I don't know how to smile for the camera and (3) I don't need photos of myself.

#1 - I am not photogenic! I promise everyone is photogenic - no one has broken my camera even though I hear that threat a lot too. If you knew how to sit/stand/pose hands, etc, then you wouldn't feel awkward or unsure. So, if you feel like you aren't photogenic, work with a photographer who will guide you (or learn about posing, look at other photographs and see what you are drawn to - you can even practice!)

#2 - I don't know how to smile for the camera! My answer is simple for this one - just be yourself! You know how to smile!! I am surprised at how many people are nervous to have their photo taken. The camera is just a tool, held by a person. If you feel comfortable with the photographer, smiling is easy :)

Need help with nerves? Don't worry, I help with that too. My simplest advice is to think of a person or place that you love and focus on feeling that love and gratitude. It will calm everything down - and put a twinkle in your eye :)

#3 I don't need photos of myself! Are you sure? Photos are the memories that don't fade. (And most printed photographs will outlast many generations. Digital files fade though or get lost, so print your images. Enough about that...)

Sure, you might want to be thinner, younger, etc. But (insert sarcasm and truth here...) YOU ARE THE YOUNGEST YOU WILL EVER BE AGAIN. So, if you are wanting to be younger, then have photographs taken of you now.... make sense? Also, so what you aren't perfect right now. But I really believe you are.... life is a journey not a destination... celebrate the journey and exist in photos. And if not for yourself, then for your loved ones.

Anyway, just my 2 cents. I hear reasons why NOT to have photos taken all the time. But I also hear, "These are the best photos I have ever had taken of myself" and "I AM photogenic!" and "I wish I had hired a pro sooner" as well as how being photographed (especially boudoir) has changed their life...their confidence... their opinion of themselves.

I know the struggle... because I struggled to love being in photos. It's why I started taking photos - to be behind the camera, but ultimately to learn how to make myself and others feel great about being photographed.

Michele Johns is an award winning, professional boudoir and headshot photographer located in Castle Rock, Colorado, serving clients from all over the world. Castle Rock is 25 minutes south of Denver, Colorado.

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