I’m not ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille
August 14, 2018 6:54 PM   Subscribe

How do I get through a photoshoot when I don’t like having my photo taken?

I have a photographer friend who really wants to bring me in to his studio for a photoshoot. I’ve turned everyone down who’s wanted to take my photo on a professional level away, as I’m super camera shy. People tell me I’m photogenic, but most of those people have never seen a photo of me, as I tend to jump or run away from the camera. I’m doing this as a favor to said friend, as he’s great, I have the time free, and want to face my camera phobia. He’s taking shots of musicians the day after and I only agreed to this to help him set up and figure out angles and test shots for that. Because it’s so last minute (tomorrow), I have no idea what to wear, how to stand, what to do with my face- you get the idea. So, help a lady out... if you’re a photographer or have done a photoshoot before, any tips for face/body shots or general helpful things I should think about?
posted by Champagne Supernova to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think theses are great questions for the photographer, frankly! I am also camera phobic but my husband wanted wedding photos and I... well, I sucked it up. Our photographer was really great about talking to me before and during about posing, setting me at ease, and giving me a lot of encouragement. No amount of tips helped as much as specific direction from a professional.
posted by sm1tten at 7:04 PM on August 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

One reason you don't like t osee pictures of yourself is that you see yourself in the mirror, - a reversed image - and the camera will take a picture of your actual image it looks subtly wrong Hold your picture up to a mirror and it will look more normal to you.

When getting your picture taken, consciously relax your shoulders; most people hunch them up when they're nervous. You may end up with some nice photos, and it's nice to have them years from now.
posted by theora55 at 7:20 PM on August 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you are a make-up wearer who never learned 'professional' techniques, perhaps you could go to a department store and get your make-up done before the shoot by someone whose make-up you admire? And tell them the make-up needs to look good on camera, as (presumably) that would necessitate a different approach.
posted by Halo in reverse at 8:07 PM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

The difference between someone taking pictures of you with a phone (or even with a nicer camera) just don't square with photos taken professionally. If your friend is a good photographer you will look exactly like you, but not in some bad way; he'll catch you at your best. I wouldn't be surprised if you find that you really like the images, and decide to get nice photos taken every few years.

I say this because a family member has had photos taken professionally recently. I've seen a lot of pics of her, and they look exactly like her, but this professional image also looks exactly like her, but catches her in a great light, a great pose, totally natural. A huge difference.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:50 PM on August 14, 2018

Best answer: My husband is a photographer and he has used me as a model (taking pics of me) and a test model (settings angles and lights for a later shoot). In the latter, you don’t have to do anything except be a human with a face and a patient attitude. Bring some blotting paper or a bandanna to wipe off with, you will sweat and may need your face to be not shiny for pictures. Bring ice water. Wear whatever you want, don’t bring/wear makeup unless you wear it everyday usually. You’ll be sitting/standing/kneeling under hot lights and the photographer will position you or tell you what to do, precisely. This is super easy but boring.

If you are the subject it will be different. Usually they have asked you because 1. They just need to take pictures of real people (avoiding blinking is hard; lighting noses so they don’t look crazy is hard) and you seem nice enough to spend some time with 2. They have a vision for what you could be photographed as 3. They like the stuff you do naturally with your face and body. If it is #1, they just need you to sit there and exist. It it 100% fine to tell them you feel shy and they should work with you to suggest poses and facial expressions that make you look “good”- whether you want to look professional, cute, smart, etc. this is good practice for them, or a normal part of practice, to give people direction in looking good. if it is #2, show up and they will tell you what to do (or you can ask for explicit directions for clothes and hair and makeup). if it is #3 you just be you.

Basically if they like you enough to take pics of you, in 3/4 of scenarios all you gotta do is show up and be willing to look at the camera and make different expressions, and ask if they have ideas; in the final 1/4 scenario, they will tell you exactly what to do. You literally cannot screw this up. Wear clothes you feel comfy in, bring a few extra shirts in different solid colors and necklines if you are concerned, bring some hair care products (brush, smoothing spray, etc) that help you feel normal, makeup if you wear it normally, and HAVE FUN!
posted by holyrood at 9:28 PM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Hello! I also dislike having my photo taken. I’m often photographed and taped for work and I’ve gotten to the point where I brush the photos off as “of course they look bad - I was caught mid sentence/doing something/not posing.”

When I have to actually pose for photos, it’s much, much worse - I get hyper self conscious, my smile goes all frozen and my eyes get a desperate crazed look in them because I would rather be anywhere other than in front of the camera. The way I deal with this particular issue is to regularly look away from the camera and then back again. Don’t move your face (especially if the photographer gives you specific instruction as to angles, how to tilt your head, adjust your chin, etc.), but you can just shift your eyes away for a second, blink, then back to the camera. I find this makes my face look more natural. As a bonus benefit: this process rapidly becomes ludicrous to me and it makes me genuinely smile. Hope this helps... best of luck tomorrow!
posted by jenquat at 10:41 PM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Part of the photographer's job is to make you feel at ease so that they can get nice, natural-looking poses and expressions. It may take a few minutes to get there, but that's fine—they can take essentially unlimited shots, so if it takes five or ten minutes of shooting before you relax and get used to it, no big deal. If they're any good at what they do, they'll have a whole suite of techniques for helping uncomfortable subjects get comfortable. They'll try to get you to laugh, they'll try to make it fun for you.

Also, it would be OK to have a drink beforehand. Maybe even suggest having a glass of wine (or whatever you like) with the photographer befoe the shooting starts, to help you loosen up and get on the same wavelength. Don't get drunk or anything, but one drink might be just what you need.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:26 AM on August 15, 2018

I pretend the camera is an enthusiastic if somewhat naive robot, with whom I am building a friendly relationship.

Forget the meat in the room. It’s all about your shared joke with the glass-faced robot.
posted by Construction Concern at 4:44 PM on August 15, 2018

Response by poster: Update: the photoshoot went very well, in no small part due to your words of encouragement. If any other camera-shy people are reading this, rest assured that it’s really not that bad and can even be fun! Thanks everyone!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 7:45 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, a big thanks to holyrood for the pro tips of blotting papers and a hairbrush. Both highly needed after running around in the dog days of summer!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 7:48 PM on August 15, 2018

Here for anyone who looks at this question in future:

I am not a professional photographer, but a hobbyist who also takes photos as a small part of my job (think colleagues needing a professional headshot, project team got an award and needs a photo for the newsletter, etc) and so I often have to photograph nervous people who are not comfortable on camera.

My approach is to take the first batch while joking and talking to the subject and just keep shooting while we chat, as they relax and engage with me. The best photos are often captured when they are just starting to or finishing laughing at something in the conversation.

The best photos are also often 3-5 shots that I select from dozens - I get rid of the ones where they look funny because they were in the middle of blinking, or whatever.

So basically: unless they are doing some kind of avant-garde art project ("Blinks of Instagram" or whatever), the photographer will choose the shots that make you look good!

As a subject, one of the best things I've done to help myself be more comfortable on camera is to take lots of selfies so I'm used to how I look in photos. You can also practice making faces for the camera, learn your angles - things that will help the process seem less fraught.
posted by oblique red at 7:12 AM on August 16, 2018

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