Category Archives for "Photography"


The Science of Being Unphotogenic (part 1)

This is for people who refer to themselves as being 'unphotogenic' - I'm going to write a couple of posts on this, as it became a really long topic once I'd started.

I've said before I don't believe there's any such thing as being unphotogenic - everybody can have images of themselves they'll love, and a lot of how you look in a photo is down to who's holding the camera. 

However, not liking yourself in photos is very real, and not being comfortable in front of a camera will translate to a photo easily, and create a less than perfect portrait of you.  It's not necessarily a real portrait though, and I'll talk more about that in the next post.

This time, I'm going to talk about your expectation when you look at an image of yourself versus the reality. If you're camera shy, whatever the cause, you probably don't:
1. have a lot of photos of yourself
2. look at photos of yourself very often.
Why would you, when you don't like yourself in photos?

So, the only version of 'you' that you're familiar with is your mirror image.

The fewer photos of yourself you see, the more your mirror image becomes your only picture of you.

And the more that's the case, the less likely you are to like photos of yourself - and it's nothing to do with being unphotogenic at all.

The problem is - we're not symmetrical. Your mirror image looks different to how everyone else sees you, whilst it's the image of you that's the most imprinted on your brain. So, you see a photo and everyone else looks fine, but you look somehow 'wrong'. Never mind that you may not have been comfortable being photographed - you're seeing a version of you that just doesn't look familiar. It's not necessarily better or worse, it's just doesn't tie up with the 'you' in your mind. That in itself can make you uncomfortable with a photo of yourself.

This can be amplified if you, for example, have an asymmetrical haircut, or a particular feature (anything from a tattoo to a mole) that's going to appear on the 'wrong' side to where you're used to seeing it in the mirror. However, for most people who hate having their photo taken, even if everyone else is telling them they look amazing in a photo, they're often more distracted by the fact the image isn't the familiar version of them.

being unphotogenic

This is called the 'mere-exposure hypothesis' and if you really want to get into the science of it, click here for the findings of a study done in 1977 at the University of Wisconsin.

This talks about how people prefer photos of them that are 'flipped' to show a mirror image, whereas their friends/partners will prefer the photo in its original version - each person prefers the image that is most familiar to themselves.

The answer of course is simple, and also anathema to the camera shy - it's to start getting used to the you in photos, so that you become more familiar to yourself, and thus eliminate that feeling of thinking you look weirdly different in photos.

(By the way - when you're taking a selfie, and I know that's probably rare in the first place, often your phone will show you a mirror image on the screen, but the photo when saved will be flipped back - so if you've ever been confused as to why you thought you looked better on the screen than in the photo, this could be why!).

Maybe try taking some photos of yourself (or get someone else to) and flipping them to a reverse image - see which you prefer and let me know.

Much love,

PS - want to read more about how we make ourselves appear unphotogenic? Click here!

Portraits for professional use?

Need portraits? For your website, for LinkedIn? For work? Or just because you don't actually have any of yourself (because you pressed delete, delete, delete).

Does the thought of having them taken fill you with horror? And then they have to be cropped to the right size - sometimes square, sometimes landscape and sometimes they're meant to fit into some weird circle thing - who even knows how to make that happen?

Best just take  a quick snap on the Iphone and be done, right?

Not really. If you're going to have to provide a photo, why not make it a great one? If it's got to be done, make sure it fits the format it's needed for, perfectly. And, just a thought, why not have some fun whilst your about it?

I know what you're thinking - photos and fun go together like gin and not-tonic. And mostly, you've probably been right.

A photo is needed/wanted - someone whips out a camera and suddenly you're meant to perform like a Hollywood star on a red carpet, only without the stylist or knowing how to pose. Cue terrible photo that confirms what you always knew - you don't look good in photos. Hence, you won't look good in the photos you need. So why bother trying?

Well, say you need a photo for work. It could be anything from an ID card to the company website. You're going to see it, lots of other people are going to see it - it is not going to make you feel great about yourself every time you do, if it's a terrible picture.

LinkedIn or your own website? Well, that's all about you at your professional best. So you need to plan who you're trying to appeal to, how best to get that across, and how to crop the image to perfection. I can assure you this is not best achieved whilst shuffling around your living room trying to find a tidy spot whilst your other half waits to take a quick snap before watching telly. (Seriously - take a look at LinkedIn, the professional photos really stand out, few and far between though they are).

And then there's the cropping - this size for one website, that size for another. The image doesn't 'quite' work for everything, but you'll make do, because that's preferable to trying to get another one.

So, what about trying a different way?

Let's imagine, and just go with me here, that actually, anyone and everyone could have photos they're proud to put on the website/ID card/mantelpiece. Some people can do it themselves - they always look great on camera, they can crop it all in Photoshop - no problem.

Other people need some help. Like you might need help if your car broke down, or if you had tooth ache. Rather than reading a quick webpage on car maintenance or dentistry, you just go to a pro and get it sorted.

It's not a failing to need professional help with stuff - you may even be a professional yourself, so you should know this!

Why is a pro going to be better?

First, we're going to find out your requirements. Do you need a quick headshot, or something more? Is there a particular image you need to project?
Are your images just for web use, or do they need to be printable too? What size and shape do they need to be? Would you like some personal portraits at the same time? (You know, like your mum keeps asking for? And actually, wouldn't it be quite nice to have a couple of pictures of yourself you feel proud of?)

We're going to make all of your photo worries go away - giving you exactly what you need, how you need it and you'll have a good time whilst you're at it -  because all the stuff that's usually hard about having your photo taken (which usually boils down to how to pose) is taken care of. 
The things you are conscious of about yourself will be taken into account. And if you don't like your images, then you either don't pay, or they're reshot for you. Meaning you can only love the end result.

Does that sound better?

Well, of course it does. Which then leads to the big drawback - you don't have to pay for a quick snap on a smartphone, but you do have to pay for a professional.

Yes, sorry, that is the big minus point here - but paying to get exactly what you need, and liking the result is going to be worth it.
And the price is tailored to what you want - you may want a full blown shoot with hair and make up included, or you may want something very simple. So the cost could be as little as £195, or it could be more, if you decide to combine it all with a personal portrait session too.

If you don't ask, you'll never know

Finding out is free! Just fill in the form below and we'll be in touch to give you a firm idea of what it costs to have exactly what you want.

Displaying boudoir portraits

So, you’re having this amazing, confidence boosting experience. You’re going to feel a million dollars and more –  time to think about displaying your boudoir portraits.

We’ll start to think about this together at your pre session chat – what you actually want from your session overall, and how you want to display your portraits.
You may already know exactly what you want.  You’ve got a space above your bed measured, and you want one major piece of wall art to fill it.

displaying your boudoir portraits

On the other hand, you might be thinking more about the experience, and you might also be thinking “I never like photos of myself anyway, so I’m not going to like these”.  We really look forward to proving you wrong on that – in the meantime, I can only suggest that you open your mind to the possibility that you might just look entirely fabulous, love your portraits and really, really want them.

Just prepare yourself for the possibility. If you don’t, well, you’re going to get really stuck for what to do when you see yourself, looking beautiful, and haven’t thought about what you want.

Start to think about how you would like to use your images. If they’re a gift for someone else would you like to give them in an album? As a digital slideshow? As prints? Would you prefer to have your images digitally, as high res files to do whatever you want with?

I’m quite a tactile person, so I like to have physical things (prints, wall art) – you may be much more digitally minded, making an mp4 video of your images perfect for you.

If you start to get a feel for how you might use your images, then you’re half way to knowing exactly how you want to go about displaying your boudoir portraits, and being able to budget accordingly.

I know your big question is “How much is my boudoir portrait session going to cost me?” and it’s not something I can answer for you easily, until you’ve thought about what you may actually want from your session.

I can tell you about our ‘Fall in Love With You’ guarantee though – you worry you’re not going to look fabulous in your portraits. We know you are. You don’t want to spend out and end up not having portraits you adore. We totally get that.
Accordingly, our portrait sessions can be booked with a £49 deposit. If you do not love your portraits (not just like, like is ‘adequate’ and we’re doing ‘amazing’) then your £49 deposit will be refunded to you in full.  We know you’re going to love them though! So the deposit you have paid will be deducted from your total order.

How much will it cost? Anything from £129 to £1249, depending on what you would like.

Starting to feel ready to fall in love with you? Fill out the form below and I’ll give you a call to chat it all through with you. (That’s all it is right now, a chat).

Much love,

1 Getting to our Long Hanborough studio

Our studio is located in West Oxfordshire, near Witney, in Long Hanborough. We’ve been based here for over 10 years. It’s possible we’re Long Hanborough’s best kept secret, as, tucked away on Hanborough Business Park, no one knows about us until they hear about us. Luckily for us they then tell their friends!

I know many photographers prefer a high street location, but I don’t think anyone pops in for boudoir portraits on a whim, walking past, so we’re happy to trade location for what we really need – space and parking!

Long Hanborough is conveniently located between Witney and Woodstock and very easy to get to by car. It’s not bad for trains either. We’re 10 minutes from Oxford by train and the train station (station code HND if you need it) is a 5 minute walk away from the studio. There is a tiny little quirk with Long Hanborough station – you have to be in the right carriages to get off the train. If you get on at Oxford and the train is longer than 3 carriages, there is announcement telling you to get into the first 3 carriages. The station here has a short platform, so you may miss being able to get off the train if you’re not in those first 3.

We hear though that the taxi drivers at Charlbury do a special rate for people who get off there and need to get back to Long Hanborough as it’s such good, regular business for them. And yes, we have had a few clients getting caught out in this way.

We’re not fabulously well served by buses (I think they are hourly on weekdays, but not at all on Sundays). Get a friend to give you a lift instead (I’ll bet you know at least one other person who would love to know more about boudoir portraits…).

As mentioned, we have parking right outside our building. If you’re coming to us on a weekend, there is more parking than we’ll ever conceivably need, as everyone else is closed. Weekdays are different, so feel free to block in cars at the side of the building, as they’re usually Robin, me or our stylists, so it’s ok to trap us here.

When you book your chat or portrait session with us we’ll send you a confirmation email with directions, plus the postcode for satnav (OX29 8LH if you’re interested). If you need to book appointments that fit in with train times, please let us know (and get ready with the train times). Your first time coming to us will always be your pre session chat, not your portrait session itself, so you’ll always know exactly where you’re coming to us on the day itself.

If you’d like to have lunch whilst you’re in the area, we recommend the George & Dragon – if you’re coming along on a Sunday, make sure you’ve booked as they get very busy. We’re 10 minutes from Witney and more like 5 from Woodstock, so there are plenty of places to check out locally (especially handy if you’re getting a lift to your boudoir portrait session itself, as you will be with us for around 3 hours, so your lift giver may like to pop out and about – Blenheim Palace is also really close by).

If you happen to be travelling a long way to come to us and need somewhere to stay, there is a hotel right on the business park – The Churchill Court Hotel. Other clients have stayed there and given good reports, although you will have to go out to dinner (as per above, we recommend the George & Dragon, a 5 minute walk away).

Need more info on how to find us? I’ll pop our full address and directions at the bottom of the post.

Much love
roche testimonial


Studio address :
Smart Photography Ltd
9, Hanborough Business Park
Long Hanborough
OX29 8LH

If approaching Long Hanborough from Witney direction :
Leave Witney on the A4095 (towards Bicester/North Leigh /Bladon/ Woodstock). Follow this road until you get to Long Hanborough.
Drive straight through the village. You will pass North Oxford Garage and Hewden Hire on the right. Lodge Road is the next right turn, after the white village ‘gates’ – signposted Hanborough Business Park (The Churchill Court is on the corner).

If approaching Long Hanborough from Bladon direction :
As you approach Long Hanborough, Lodge Road (where the business park is situated) is on your left, immediately before white village ‘gates’ and village sign, signposted Hanborough Business Park (The Churchill Court Hotel is on the corner).

Once in Lodge Road, follow the road round to the left. Go past the first right turn. In front of you is Unit 8 (George Henry). As road turns to right, drive straight into the parking area to the right of George Henry. The studio is on the left at the end of this parking area. Parking is available to the right of the studio, or directly in front of the building.


Yes – it’s a male photographer!

Male photographer? What the…?
Well, you may call him a man – I call him my husband.

I understand your fears – here’s what a boudoir portrait session sounds like when you’ve never done it:
“Standing in a room in your lingerie, being looked at by a man with a camera”
Sounds enticing, no? Here’s the number – 01993 883645, call and book this amazing experience now 😉

Here’s another way of looking at it:
“Having beautiful portraits created by a photographer who really understands how to pose and light me to perfection”.

There’s very little ‘standing being looked at’ involved in a portrait session. It’s much more involved than you may think, and on entering the studio you’re not being assessed – you’re immediately being posed to create flattering shapes and body lines. You’re being lit to highlight your best features (yes, yes, you think you haven’t got any, I know), and really, you and Robin (your photographer) are both working together to create a set of images you will adore.

You are also welcome to have someone with you – if you feel you’ll be more comfortable with a friend or partner coming along – bring them. Your stylist will also be on hand throughout much of your session for hair and make up adjustments as needed.

Say you decide to have some implied topless images taken. Are you going to be wandering about semi naked, getting gawped at? No. Robin will tell you how you need to pose, and then turn around, or leave the room until you are comfortable and in position. And then do the same, after the shot has been taken.
You’ll also be provided with a robe to wear in between shots, and going to and from the changing room.
(A small note on the robes – as you first enter the studio you will most likely cling on to it for dear life. Maybe you can forget the whole lingerie thing, and just be photographed in this shapeless gown? Yes, actually that would be much better, you’re thinking. 30 minutes later you’ve forgotten the robe, now discarded on a chaise longue, and feel perfectly comfortable wandering around in a bra and knicker set. True story).

Pretty much everything you worry about before a boudoir portrait session is just not a problem:
– I won’t look that great in my photos
– I don’t know how to pose
– I can’t undress in front of a man
– I can’t undress in front of anyone, now I think of it

It’s all nonsense, and the great news is that actually, you’re going to feel liberated, empowered and generally like a million dollars just from the session, before you even see your images.

Much love,
confident client
If you would like to have a chat about having your perfect boudoir portraits created, get in touch by filling in the form below xx