On Being Photogenic

©2016, Miachelle D Photography, LLC MODEL: James M.

©2016, Miachelle D Photography, LLC MODEL: James M.

I saw an Instagram meme posted today that really struck a chord with me and my philosophy on photographing people. On @EmbraceYourFace.NYC, by Francesco Sapienza, a commercial photographer out of New York. it said “Being photogenic is not the subject’s duty, it’s the photographer’s.".  

I couldn’t agree more. 

Being a people photographer, I hear a lot of comments by individuals when I take their picture, especially in more candid situations such as events.

“Can you photoshop ten years/ten pounds off me?”
“Oh, no thank you, I’m not photogenic.” 
“Oh, photograph her. She’s much better looking.”

Eegads!

We each have a different mental image of ourselves, and often it’s much more critical than how others see us. Our mental image is created by life experiences, self-comparisons, and self-induced pressures to compete. 

I look around me, and I see photogenic people everywhere I go. I look beyond the conventional ideals that many use to evaluate and determine what “photogenic” is. I look at an individual, and I see the journey of a lifetime, and I see the character that has evolved out of the journey. You are already photogenic before I ever meet you, because of what life has made you and where it’s taken you. My role as a photographer is to capture that character I see and immortalize it. When I meet you, my first job isn’t to set up the lighting and the camera. 

My first job is to connect with you. 

Once I connect with you, the relationship between you and me, and therefore you and the camera, is established. The camera and the lighting is merely an extension of me. Then I focus (no pun intended) on setting up the lights, and the camera. I use my knowledge about lighting, camera settings, and posing to get the best representation of you.

Then WE create magic. 

One of the most rewarding things I hear is when someone says “I didn’t know I looked like that!” or “This is beyond my expectations!” That means I broke down a mental barrier about you had about yourself, and brought to light an aspect of you that you didn’t see before. I love showing you what I see about YOU. I love showing you that there is a YOU entirely different than the one you see when you look in the mirror. 

I love showing people just like YOU that you are, in fact, photogenic