It is true,we always take the best pictures of people we like and those who like us always take the best pictures of us.Go through your photo collection and prove me wrong if you can!
Why is that so?Because a picture is nothing but a moment frozen in time.A fraction of time,a frame captured in digital form and preserved into eternity.But which moment,which frame is going to be preserved is up to a great extend to the photographer and,to a lesser extent,to the subject,be it animate or inanimate.
When I am taking a photo of someone or something,I get to choose the exact moment that I 'll push the button and that corresponds to my idea of how my subject(s) look(s) like not just at that given moment but also in general as well!And my idea of what my object(s) look like is,in its turn,influenced by my very personal thoughts,ideas,prejudices,preferences or likes and dislikes about my subject(s).
In other words I simply capture in my camera a frozen version of what I believe my subjects look like!Even if I am an amateur photographer and I don't know the first thing about photography,even if I am an unsuspecting passer-by obliging to a stranger that asked me to get a picture of themselves in the street,I still,consciously or subconsciously,get to pick the exact moment in time that corresponds to how I see my particular subjects at that particular moment.
There is nothing objective about taking a picture,any picture.If I like you,admire you,think you are pretty and cute,I'll get to pick the right moment when your facial expressions,stature,pose,look in your eye or whatever confirms my idea of how attractive you look.If I believe you are too tall or too short,I'll get a picture of you that shows just that.If I am attracted to you,I will most likely get a sexy picture of you,even if you are in your sweatpants,have a bad hair day,or it is first thing in the morning when you are barely out of bed.
Likewise,if I don't like you,think you look boring,old,unattractive or plain,my portrait of you will depict those things that I see in you.If I dislike you but still think you look nice,almost in spite of myself in a way,all those feelings will be in the mix and will influence my digital version of you.
Of course,like a student of mine cleverly pointed out when I was explaining this theory to him,the subjects themselves influence the photographer with their ideas about themselves and with how they feel about the photographer.The most photogenic people are the most confident ones or the ones that somehow believe themselves to be pretty or at least pretty in pictures.And whether you feel fine or uncomfortable in my presence is gonna show in the picture I'll take of you.
How you project yourself to me is going to influence my way of seeing you and that is going to show in the picture as well.If you feel happy,radiant,relaxed,attractive,in a great mood,I subconsciously pick up those signals,even if you don't utter a word,and my picture of you comments on that.
I was a very self-conscious child because I was stick-thin and people kept telling me that,so I invariably ended up striking unnatural,self-conscious,unflattering poses in pictures.In hindsight,I clearly see that I wasn't a bad looking little girl,in fact my family tells me I almost looked angelic with those big pale blue eyes,soft golden hair and all.I was just convinced I looked horrible and I have quite a few pictures to prove that!
I began feeling attractive well into my late teens when male attention started boosting my self image.What made me feel really attractive,though,was meeting my future husband when I was a little older than 17.Before making a career for himself as a tour guide he used to work as a freelance photographer for certain newspapers in Athens in his early twenties.Photography was his passion.And I became his favourite 'model'.
Because he was sexually attracted to me he thought of me as sexy,attractive,fabulous,yummy and he kept telling me that.What he felt about me clearly showed in those early pictures he took of me! I,in turn,was flattered (of course) by how he saw me and internalised this flattering picture of myself.(A model can't help feeling attractive when the photographer's crotch bulges sensuously under their pants at any given photo shooting!) Then other people started seeing what he saw as well.
This experience of mine taught me a valuable lesson in both photography and life:we are constantly influencing each others' self image by how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us because of that.Taking a nice picture of someone goes well beyond giving them a nice keepsake.It can be a powerful tool in our hands to boost people's self confidence.A nice picture is a nice compliment.No one is too unattractive or too unworthy of that.
I love taking pictures of people,friends,relatives and family (kids and dogs alike).My older kids,in their teens now,are going through a Don't-invade-my-privacy-or-else phase so they won't let me get as many pictures of them as I'd like.They'll even delete pictures if I don't comply with their wish.I try to respect that.As for the rest of the world,my poor friends, teachers and students at my school are constantly subjected to a compulsory :) ) lesson in self acceptance through picture taking.
I am certainly not a professional photographer entitled to give advice on how to take great pictures. I can give you a few hints,though,on how to get people to bring forth their best self,which is a prerequisite for any great picture:
1.Don't attempt to take pictures of people when they are feeling low,cranky or just not in the mood
Believe me,it's gonna show!
2.Don't attempt to take pictures of people when you feel angry,hostile or critical towards them
Believe me,it's gonna show!
3.Identify by observing or simply by asking your subjects the image they want to project
The wish to look attractive in a picture is,of course,universal,but what other positive characteristics do they want to show off?What are the things they are proud of in their physical selves?Those are the ones you should focus on.And by focus I don't mean a conscious effort on your part,just simply keep them in mind when you are taking that picture.Ignore physical flaws,even blatant ones.Just focus on the positive,that should do the trick!
4.Add encouraging words when taking pictures of people or pets
This is going to make them feel great about themselves,put them in a good mood and bring forth their best selves.Also,it is going to reinforce in you the positive image you hold of them because spoken words are very powerful tools in evoking the right thoughts.Say things like "You look gorgeous today",'You are so beautiful'',''Think some happy thoughts for me''!
5.Always take as many snapshots as you can and let people choose the ones they like best
That's what digital cameras are for.Show your subjects the pictures,let them decide which version of themselves they like best and simply delete the rest before making them public property.Everyone will be happier this way.
All the above holds true for self-portraits as well.Want to gauge your self love?Take daily pictures of you.Whenever I look myself in the mirror and I'm like ''God,what do I look like?I'm so...(old,haggard,tired,you name it)'',I know it's time for me to grab my camera and start working on some happy thoughts.Being aware that my happy,self-loving thoughts are going to show in the picture is giving me a great incentive to root for some good old-fashioned self acceptance.I usually start by remembering a few of the best compliments people ever gave me or a passionate experience in bed and that gets me going.Then,when I get to take a nice pic of me,I feel better by looking at it and that in turn brings on more happy,self loving thoughts.Try it for yourself,it really works!
Go take some great pictures of yourself first,then of people and pets you love and like.See the Light and Beauty in everyone,let your camera catch that and give it back to them like a rare,packed-with-your-loving energy gift.And be sure to ask only passers by that you feel attracted to to take your picture in the street,because chances are,if you feel attracted to them,they'll be attracted to you as well.And that,my friend,is gonna show in the picture!
all photos from here
Love,peace and a great pose
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