A few days ago, I attended a Better Headshot Tweetup. The idea behind it was simple. A bunch of people get together, network a little, drink some beer and get a few photos taken by a pair of professional photographers from Studio You Photography.
The Tweetup was at MindWorks Multimedia in Durham. It was a great choice because it’s a really cool rehab’d building downtown. Tera Simon did a great job bringing together her company, their awesome workspace and reaching out to Lonerider Beer for FREE BEER!
The photo on the left was taken that night in front of a green screen. I think it’s an awesome photo of Tera. Which is easy because Tera is beautiful. It almost captures her energy and happiness, but not quite.
The thing is, what does Tera think of it? If she’s like most people, she can point to a couple of things she doesn’t like about it.
We all have certain hang-ups about ourselves. Sometimes they are real. For example, I look fat in photos because… well, I’m not skinny. Other times I think I look old in photos, you know why? Right.
Here’s the thing, we usually look better than we give ourselves credit for. When was the last time you looked through a dozen photos of yourself and said, “I look good in every single one.”
How often does someone say, “that’s a great picture of you.” and we then assume they’re just being nice.
That’s the reason I usually tell people to let a friend choose their profile picture. The reason is that your friend/spouse/neighbor can see the real you in a photo instead of just the imperfectness that you zoom in on.
With the growth of social media profile pictures, it’s important that you feel like confident in yourself and the photos you use to present yourself with.
How many photos have you see of yourself where you thought you looked good? Here’s my scale:
- I’ve never seen a photo of myself I’ve liked
- I’ve only liked 1 0r 2 photos of myself
- I can usually find at least one photo from an event that I like how I look
- I usually like how I look in photos
- The camera loves me
I’m about a 3. How about you?
I try not to spend too much time in front of mirrors or cameras. If I feel good about how I look, I don’t necessarily want reality to come crashing down on me to tell me it’s not true. I could pick apart every single feature on my body (I do like my ears, though) but we definitely see our own flaws. In fact, it’s often difficult to just accept a compliment. It’s easier to say – oh I look awful in that – than it is to say simply thank you.
My problem? I always look back at photos and think: Wow, my hair looked really good like that. Why did I change? But at that time, I know I didn’t feel that good. Maybe we just need historical perspective. Or to just go easier on ourselves. With that said, I’m about a 3.5 on your scale above.
Phil Buckley says
@Fadra – that’s funny about looking back. Kristen still has my Marriott ID card from when I was a bouncer there in college.
Karl Sakas says
From your list, I’m probably a 3, too.
It’s harder when a photo has multiple people in it. When I’m shooting photos at a marketing panel to go with one of my event recaps, I try to take 5-10 shots — inevitably, someone’s frowning, drinking water, or making a random gesture. I don’t want to use a photo that makes someone look stupid.
Phil Buckley says
@Karl – that’s the hard part… we can all agree that a photo of someone with their eyes closed is no good, but there are many times I think a photo of my wife is fine, and she thinks it terrible.
Lisa Sullivan says
Well, I love myself! 🙂 Just kidding.
Seriously, when I was younger I absolutely loathed getting my picture taken. Now, though, I don’t mind. In fact, I even stop someone from taking a picture just so I can get into my “pose”. And it’s not me being vain or anything. It’s just as I’ve grown older, I’ve also grown to respect the person that God made me to be, I have more confidence, and I’m happier. I think the pictures taken of me reflect that. Sure, I see flaws too. BUT, I see the overall beauty behind the flaws.
So I guess you could say years ago I was a #2. Today, I’m a #4. I highly doubt I will ever get to “the camera loves me” and that’s perfectly OK. 🙂
Phil Buckley says
@Lisa – very true, one thing that always seems to come through in photographs of confident people is their confidence. Even if they aren’t “beautiful people”, their photos are still compelling.
Bob Gunter says
Since I am a professional photographer that tries to photograph people and hopefully capture their image that pleases them, I find it very challenging to please them because many people are too critical of their own image. One of the most interesting things I observed over the years of photographing people is that in general if the person is actually very attractive and the camera loves them, they are even more critical of their photos than so called “normal” looking people.
I would encourage everyone to allow other people select the best photo for a head shot, etc because we are too critical of how we look in a photograph and we often overlook the good stuff when viewing our images. Also ask the photographer their opinion of what they think the best image or images are from the session.
One last thing to remember is because of the media focusing so much on Hollywood celebrities and the so called beautiful people in our culture today, we often compare our image to theirs and that is a no win situation. Almost all celebrities have complete control on what images are published for publicity, promotion, etc and let me assure you the photos are “enhanced” with photoshop, etc and are usually created by very skilled photographers.
When someone tells me they don’t take a good picture of themselves, I tell them that I am taking the picture and hopefully it will be an image that captures them at their best!
Tera Simon says
Well since I’m the poster child for this post (and i’m stumbling over here way too late) I would like to go on the record saying I fall in the realm of #4. I typically do like how I look in pictures, and believe your profile shot says a lot about you. Would I use the picture referenced above for my new head shot, no, but that’s only because the look I have in it doesn’t scream professional. I’ve spent years trying to get major corporations to take me seriously and believe that although I am young (well not as young as I once was) I am qualified to oversee your multi million dollar account, and when you see my headshot I want you to believe that I am that savvy person who can handle anything. What’s the flaw I would point out in this picture, a little too much of the “assets” – oh those silly little wrap dresses.