the myth of the photogenic
A quick note tonight about a thought that’s been bouncing around in my head during these past few months of training. My whole life, probably since my awkward teenage years, I’ve never considered myself photogenic. Actually, to this date, I still am not super comfortable IN FRONT of the lens. But the more I learn about light and how true photographic artists use it to shape the face, I’m realizing more and more that there really is no such thing as a “photogenic.” It’s true!
And here’s why:
1. The human face is beautiful - No matter your age, your sex, your skin tone, or your bone structure, your face is beautiful. It has gorgeous reflective eyes that catch light, with fantastic depth and color. It has curves and smooth lines, valley and ridges that make for interesting shadows and highlights. Face it, you’re beautiful! All of these characteristics are perfectly stunning from the perspective of art and light.
2. Your face has symmetry - Now, if you’re like me, maybe your mug has some things that make it unique. I have a pretty prominent scar under my left eye that makes my face a little less symmetrical than it might have been without it. But guess what? There is a way to pose my face that hides that asymmetry completely. It’s all about paying attention to the light and how it hits and falls on the ridges of the face. Something I really never thought about when taking snap shots all throughout my childhood, posing for school pictures, or while being blinded by the harsh flash of promo pictures!
3. Your face has a light soul mate - I’m learning more and more that there is no such thing as “bad lighting.” But there is definitely a thing called “bad posing.” That usually occurs when a photographer doesn't understand how to use light or they get too distracted by other scene elements. BUT, if you have a photographer that knows what they are doing when it comes to finding the light, the lens will love you for it!
Some simple tips:
If a face is a bit round, well, don’t broad light it and make it look wider.
If the face is longer and you want to lessen that characteristic, broad light might be a better choice.
Is one side of your subject more symmetrical than the other? Take the time to check and pose them appropriately (keeping the light at the forefront of your mind!)
Do you have a more mature subject that’s self conscious about fine lines and wrinkles? Then for Pete’s sake, use a beauty light and don’t highlight those elements with hard side lighting.
Is your bride standing directly under canister light, giving her horrible raccoon eyes? Have her look up!
All of these things seem pretty obvious when you take the time to think about them, but too often, we wedding photographers get distracted by the background and creating some preconceived look we’ve seen or want to create.
This year, I’m challenging myself to really stop and evaluate my subjects in relation to light. Some guru’s I’ve been following lately call it being “seduced by light.” And I’m all in!
Below you’ll see some of my favorite portraits of my brides. They are all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages, but they are all beautiful. And they fell in love with these photographs because I took the time to think about the light.