A survey conducted by Dove found that “77% of women feel self-conscious or uncomfortable having their photo taken because they aren’t feeling beautiful.” As a result, women avoid stepping in front to the camera lens and miss out on some of life’s most precious snapshots. Dove also found that 63% of women have destroyed a photo of themselves because they did not like they way that they looked. As a woman and mom, I found the Dove survey pretty alarming. As a professional Washington DC photographer, I can at least play a small part in changing that statistic amongst the women who step in from of my camera.
Women are my clients, my subjects, my friends, and my sisters in arms; I hate to think that camera-consciousness is keeping them from documenting their lives and creating beautiful memories. As women, we worry about everything: if our teeth are jutting out, if our shirt is riding up, if our panty lines are visible, if the colors will combine, if the makeup will last, if the wind will destroy our hairdos. It’s a constant mental litany that keeps us striving for photographic perfection. But, in case you’ve not listened to the news in the last decade, photographic perfection is a lie – a big one.
As a photographer, my job is to capture you in a single image. And without ever meeting you, I already know that you are a complex and beautiful woman, who has lived a full life, brought children into this world, kissed handsome men, and cried under blankets at night. You are multi-faceted, you have depth, highs, lows, shadows, curves, and warmth. My job as a photographer is to tell that story – not contort your body into impossible poses and retouch your skin until it shimmers like porcelain.
When you step in front of a camera, you carry all your whole self with you – even the bobbly bits that you don’t find all that attractive. And rather than losing sleep over how we can best hide your flaws, I prefer to empower women to highlight their favorite features. It’s always possible to edit out the occasional blemish or wayward curl, but it’s impossible to add in that special little glow we get when we’re feeling confident. A client recently said to me, “I really don’t want [the photos] to look in any way airbrushed; I like all my freckles and wrinkles.” I was thrilled to hear her desire for authenticity and to be recognizable as her true, beautiful self. And I want all the moms I photograph to embody that same attitude. That’s why today’s tips for the camera-conscious ladies are not based around how to contort your neck to prevent double chins, or what brand of suction-shorts will smooth out all your lumps & bumps. It’s about practical things you can do to help you love the woman staring back at you from the photograph. Then watch the video at the end of this post and it will make you see yourself (in photos and in life) a little bit differently, with more beauty and confidence.
Cure for the Camera-Conscious Ladies
Do Some Gentle Grooming
Getting comfortable with the way you look is a life-long practice, especially for women. It’s so easy to be self-critical when we stand in front of the mirror inspecting our imperfections. However, a little bit of personal grooming can help us feel more at ease in our own skin. Treat yourself to a professional eyebrow wax, manicure, or face mask. Take time to primp in the days leading up to your photoshoot. Not only will you look more polished, but you’re confidence will be lifted from the moment you strike the first pose.
Go Easy on the Makeup…
…but not too easy. With an impending photoshoot on the horizon, now is not the time to test out new beauty products or spring for that wacky hairstyle you have been too nervous to attempt. If you’re uncomfortable wearing makeup, now is the time to scale down, settle into your own body, and let your natural feminine beauty come to the surface. If you do wear makeup once in a while, do take the time to apply it. As someone who falls into this category of only occasionally wearing makeup, I can tell you that a photoshoot is one of those occasions when it’s worth going through the trouble. Even better, consider getting it professionally done for your session. Working with a professional makeup artist not only makes you feel pampered, but also takes the stress out of your hands and puts it into the hands of someone skilled at enhancing your natural beauty. (I can even help set up an appointment with a wonderful makeup artist.)
Smile Like You Mean It
Unless you’re a professional model, smiling on command probably feels about as natural as walking down the street with a monkey on your face. That’s why I tell my clients to forget about whether or not their teeth are showing or how their jaw line catches the light – let that go. Simply let yourself be in the moment, interact with your family, let your child tell a joke, remember a funny moment, and let the smile surface naturally. Let me worry about angles and lighting, after all I’ll be able to see your good side far more clearly from my end of the camera.
When you look back on your portraits, you’re going to do two things: evaluate how you look and pull up all the emotions that you were feeling the moment that shutter button snapped. That’s why I recommend my clients take care of themselves before the shoot and put themselves in the best possible frame of mind. Drink plenty of water, get ample sleep each night, avoid foods high in salt, and treat yourself to a little recreation and relaxation.
At the end of the day, no amount of makeup, aerodynamic poses, or girdles can ever fabricate self-portraits that you will love. I am a professional Washington DC photographer, but I am not a wizard. I cannot capture something that isn’t there, but I can highlight the stunning, beautiful, real woman that you are (and use some clever photo tricks in the process).
If you’re still fretting over how to pose, click the link for my tips on how to get started. And then go check out this video or any of the other ones from Dove’s recent campaign. Pretty much every single one of them made me tear up. After watching these, I looked at all my images of all the ladies I’ve photographed a little differently and loved them even more.
What do you do to help feel comfortable in front of the camera? Share your tips in the comments section below!
About the Author:
Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!