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  • Stata Center, MA

Photo philosophy

Any person living in modern America can expect to be in hundreds of photos a year.  Our culture is camera crazy, and digital photography has made immortalizing (and mortifying) your friends and family cheap and simple.

So why is it that with so many photo opportunities to choose from, so many people hate photos of themselves?  I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and it boils down to three basic reasons.

1) You are not the real subject of the photos.  Most photos these days are of groups of people at an event, or of a person or group standing in front of a landmark.  We take photos to remember a specific event in our lives, and those photos are kept regardless of whether the person pictured in them looks good.  Even the most beautiful people in the world can end up looking odd when they are frozen for an instant in time (in fact these days its a common feature of films to have this happen for comic effect).  The problem is that while your sister loves this memory of you standing in front of the Eiffel tower, all you notice is that your face is flushed and your hair is sticking every which way.  

2) When you look at the photo, you are looking for something that isn’t there.  We all have a mental image of ourselves, but many times that mental images is years out of date.  You are remembering yourself 20 lbs lighter, and 3 years younger, the last time you had a nice picture of yourself you liked.  You may be looking for what you look like in your bathroom mirror, which is a different angle and lighting situation than the photo you are in. 

3) Modern formal photography puts you in silly poses, and captures you when your clothing, hair and/or makeup aren’t normal.  The poses that most photographers put families in hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.  When people were first painting portraits, they had people stand in a way that was easy to maintain for 30 minutes at a time.  People didn’t smile for this reason. Have you ever tried holding a smile for 30 minutes?  The same poses were used for early photography, when the film took a long time to get exposed to enough light to capture the image.  If people moved during that time, the image was blurry and out of focus.  The problem is that much of formal photography still uses these “classic” poses, despite the fact that they make people look uninteresting and stilted.

In order to get a set of images that you really like, you need to overcome all these problems.  You need the person taking the photo to be focusing on you, not what is standing behind you.  You need them to only keep and display photos that captured your likeness in a pleasing light, not one where you moved slightly during the shot and so have a weird expression on your face.  You need someone who has experience with taking pictures of people and knows some tricks of the trade that help make everyone look more appealing.  Finally, you need to have photos taken where you have the chance to be yourself.  If you can sit in a way that is relaxed, you will likely look relaxed.  Its very hard to look relaxed and vibrant when you are holding a strange pose (the only people who can do that are models, which is why they are paid to do it.)

When I work with a client who worries about how the photos will turn out, we discuss these issues and how to deal with them.  I won’t show you a single shot that I don’t think is appealing, and if the shoot really didn’t work for you, we will try again until we can come up with something you are happy with. I don’t believe in airbrushing or obscuring any facial features, the photos are supposed to be of you, not an idealized image that I can make on the computer.

For information about my availability and how to contact me, please click here .