How to feel comfortable in front of the camera – for women who hate being photographed

CameraHow do you feel about being photographed? Do you love or loath being in front of the camera?

Having been a portrait photographer for 18 years, I’ve learned that most women’s reaction to the camera can be summed up in two phrases – “I hate having my picture taken” and “I never look good in photos.”

So what happens if you need a headshot or a profile picture for work or LinkedIn? First and foremost, don’t be tempted to compromise with a holiday snap or a selfie. Book a professional portrait photographer who really knows their stuff and whose style you like.

And if the very idea of being photographed makes you cringe, here are my tips for the camera-shy:
  1. Prepare. Don’t leave things till the last minute and just hope that the photographer will get a decent shot.
  2. Decide what outfits flatter you and ask your photographer’s advice too. For business portraits, I generally advise clients to avoid all black, pick one colourful item, and steer clear of busy prints and fussy necklines.
  3. Wear makeup – this one’s really important. I know not all women feel comfortable wearing it, which is fine. However, for a professional portrait makeup really makes a difference. Digital images can look flat straight out of camera, and if your photographer uses lights, these will wash out colours too.
  4. Angle your body at 45 degrees to the camera, rather than facing it square on – it’s much more flattering and the result will look far less like a passport photo!
  5. Lift and extend your body through your neck and torso – it’s wonderful for counteracting any bad postural habits.
  6. Smile. Practise smiling with your eyes rather than worrying about showing your teeth; it creates a much more genuine expression. No matter what you think, people love to see a smiling face!
  7. If your expression starts to get too fixed, just breathe, blink and reset. Try blowing out your cheeks beforehand to get rid of tension.
  8. Look at the camera with intention and good thoughts in your mind – not as if you’re about to undergo root canal treatment!
  9. Don’t forget that portrait photographers have seen it all – we know exactly how you feel about being photographed, so look to your photographer for guidance and reassurance.

Anna Saverimuttu is a professional portrait photographer who specialises in photographing women. Her portraits can be commissioned for special occasions, such as to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, for work, or simply for a self-esteem boost.

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