Photography Archives | Page 4 of 5 | Smart Photography

Category Archives for "Photography"


The science of being unphotogenic (part 2)

Yesterday I talked about how we're more familiar with our mirror image than our true image, and this can make us less inclined to like photos of ourselves - you can read about that here.

Meanwhile, there's the whole issue of how we feel about having our picture taken, and how that affects the outcome.

Lots of people who describe themselves as not being photogenic will say that they prefer (and maybe even like) photos of themselves when they didn't know the camera was on them. The logical leap, therefore is to think "I will prefer images that don't look staged, or where I'm not looking at the camera".

 2 things here:
1. Obviously you're not unphotogenic if there are photos of you that you like
2. It's not about natural v staged - it's about how comfortable you feel about having your photo taken.

If you're not feeling comfortable about having your photo taken, you're not going to look comfortable in the photo.

Ever had that feeling where you were feeling ok about yourself and then you see a (pretty terrible) photo of yourself and you think "oh no, is that what I really look like?".
Maybe it isn't what you really look like.

Because if you're not comfortable having your photo taken, then how you look in photos is not really how you look in real life - and the degree of the difference can depend on the degree of discomfort you felt having your photo taken.

Photos do lie - no Photoshop required.

Picture the scene, you're sitting relaxing, having a chat with a friend. Meanwhile, someone takes a photo whilst you're completely unaware - you're too busy enjoying time with your friend to notice.

Now imagine it differently. You're sitting relaxing, having a chat with a friend. Someone walks over with a camera (or phone) and wants to take your picture. So you try to pose together for the camera.

If you hate having your photo taken, you are almost certainly going to prefer the photo from scenario one. In scenario two you're going to look very different.

Here's what happens to you, physically, when you don't like having your photo taken and someone pulls out a camera (or phone).

For all you may struggle to look relaxed, if you hate having your photo taken 'relaxed' and 'natural' has now gone out of the window. It's not just that your facial expression will change, your whole body has changed and you probably haven't noticed.

  • You go tense.

    From head to toe, things just got a little bit 'fixed'. This will be most noticeable through your shoulders in a head shot, they tend to raise up a little (some people will go as far as looking hunched).
  • You physically recoil from the camera.

    It's really really common for people to retract their head slightly, as if subconsciously you want to be as far away from the camera as possible.
    Ever wondered why you have 3 chins in a photo and just 1 in the mirror? This is why. And because you're tense, you may find that the veins in your neck are looking 'tight' too. Nicely enhancing any wrinkles you may have to bring them to prominence. 
  • You don't know what to do with your hands anymore.

    What's even going on here? Seconds ago you were sitting quite naturally, now you don't know whether to fold your arms, rest your hands on your legs, or something else entirely. You're really conscious of your hands all of a sudden, and your arms are stiff.
  • Your eyes go wide, or you blink a lot.

    You are great at nailing that 'rabbit caught in the headlights' look, and if it's not that, you're always blinking. Put this together with all the other things going on and you end up looking slightly mad or more than slightly tipsy in photos.

This does not create a photo that looks like 'you'.

...I can hear that sigh of relief from here. Thank me later 😉

Next time you're having your photo taken, try to become a bit more 'aware' of what you are doing - many of these things (shoulders raising, for example) happen completely subconsciously whilst you're thinking "Argh, camera, please get this over with as quickly as possible and no don't bother showing me the picture, in fact just delete it as soon as you've taken it and let us never speak of it again".

So, try asking the person to wait a few seconds whilst you attempt to get a handle on what your body is doing, lower your shoulders, reposition your head (if you're trying to retract it into a non existent shell, like a turtle, you need to bring your head forward, more like a chicken), take a deep breath, shake your arms to loosen them and then do what you want with them (this sounds like a lot of stuff, it takes seconds) and then declare yourself ready. Focus on you, not on your camera-panic.

This takes practice, no question. But the start of it is just being aware of what you're doing when you have your photo taken - once you're more aware, you're in a much better position to stop the physical changes happening.

So how can a professional take great photos of you when all that's going on, subconsciously?

You may not be aware of what's happening, but your photographer (at our studio, Robin) is very aware.
Women who have been to us for photos will be very familiar with the words "push your head forward" (because I asked "like a chicken?" at my session and got told yes).

Every physical change that happens when you get tense is noticeable more to someone else than to you. Concentrating on posing is a great distraction in itself, and you haven't got to think "I don't know what to do with my hands" or "I don't know how to stand" because you'll be directed all the way through your portrait session.

Meanwhile, if you're wishing you could at least take the odd selfie of yourself that you like, keep following the blog as there's a lot more to come on that - including how to take a better selfie.

Much love,

Got a question for me on how to be more photogenic? Or perhaps you'd like to know more about having beautiful portraits created for you?
Just fill in the form below and I'll get back to you xx


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 effect' and if you really want to get into the science of it, click here to read about it.

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!


What I did wrong…

It took me a long time to get around to having my own boudoir portrait session,
so I can't have got anything wrong...can I?

"You will love your boudoir portrait session...."
"Your images are going to look amazing...."
"You're going to feel so much more confident afterwards...."

Oh yes, I could wax lyrical to everyone else about how great their boudoir portraits were going to be. I knew I was right - I knew that everyone had a great time. But did I know it on a personal level? No.

In short, I was the exact kind of person who would most benefit from a boudoir portrait session - because I didn't truly believe that I could love photos of me. I was nervous. Scared.

Not of the session - the photographer is my husband, he has seen me in less than underwear and not run for the hills yet, so that bit was going to be fine. 
No, the doubt was all about me, and that deep rooted fear that yes, this could work for all of our fabulous clients, but me? Not convinced.

I am awkward in front of the camera. I cringe if someone pulls out their phone for a group selfie on a night out. I hide at the back in group wedding photos ("Hey, you with the hair, come forward" wedding photographers will yell).

Who needs photos of me, I thought? It's not like they'll be gorgeous like everyone else's.

So, essentially, the fear guided me. I ignored the advice I sat and gave to everyone else. I didn't plan well.

I already had some lingerie I'd bought when I first decided to have a session myself - but this was 18 months on and I'd never quite got round to it. I was so nervous, I just decided that what I'd got would 'do'. This was mainly out of a feeling of "I am not going to look good anyway, so why am I even trying".

Now, this may sound like a lack of faith in Robin, my husband, the photographer here. It really isn't - Robin is a lighting and posing genius - I knew this. It was just...ever heard the phrase you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? That was me.

I didn't think through what jewellery I might like to wear. In fact, I thought most about what shoes to bring, because I love shoes, and knew that they, at least, would look awesome.  

I didn't plan myself time during the day to prepare - I decided I wasn't worth anything more than being on standby when we had spare time in the diary to fit my session in.

I didn't try all that lingerie on again.

I didn't make sure I was happy with my hair colour, or get my nails done, even thought those things are important to me.

So, really, I didn't plan my session well at all.

I'd bought a basque, in a rush - that didn't fit as I wrestled into it on the day (my chest wouldn't squeeze in).
The bra and knicker sets I'd bought 18 months ago were now too big.
Luckily, a friend had given me 2 corsets and they worked well. I'd bought some cute, ruffly knickers from Ann Summers that were fab. I had one matching set to wear.

My hair and make up looked amazing - sod the nails, who cares? My eyes looked fantastic!
The session was hard work (for everyone who says they will be Robin's biggest challenge, let me assure you that me, standing there saying "Hmmm, I'm not sure that pose will work for me" was far more challenging to Robin than anything you will ever do or say). I made that session hard work by taking a while to just trust him. We got there in the end!

I had enough lingerie.
The stylist (fabulous Holly) worked her magic.
Robin worked his magic.

I loved my images. Was that even me? It takes a lot for someone who hates having their photo taken to be willing to share these images, but once I saw them, I knew I was going to be happy to do so.

So, I didn't quite manage to sabotage my own session - but I easily could have.

It has been a while now (2 years), so I'm going to have another session. And this time, I'm going to know I will have beautiful images, and will:
plan it all out much better
make sure I have lingerie that fits well
book the session into my diary, not try to squeeze it in wherever there's a gap
believe in myself more.

Much love,

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.

How to take a great prom photo (or any other event!)

Some moments truly are one off opportunities to really capture something you know you’ll want to keep, look back on and treasure forever. Events like proms, weddings and balls are the perfect chance to take a great picture that’s worthy of blowing up and having on your wall.
To help you achieve that, we’ve put together a guide to help you take a great prom photo (or any other event).

It’s not going to be complicated, hard work or beyond you – we’re going to help!
(If you would prefer to download the guide, you can do so here).
(aka a little planning goes a long way)

Now, you may have a home that’s ready to be photographed at the drop of a hat. Alternatively, you may have a household that starts at tidy at some point in the week, and from then on descends into chaos. If you’re firmly in the latter camp, then take a little bit of time (whilst the person to be photographed is getting ready – you’ll have hours 😉 ) to find, or create, the perfect place to take a photo.

Since we don’t have a prom (or any other aged) teenager at home, and it seemed a little odd to borrow one, bear with me as I’m illustrating this point with…me.

Try to find a good spot with natural light is possible – this will be much better than using the on camera flash. Ideally, light from a north facing window, or at least avoiding direct sunlight streaming through the window (net curtains/voiles are a good filter if this is unavoidable).

I’d like to say we created a lot of mess in our kitchen to illustrate this point – sadly, this would not be true. The image on the left is, well, normal. The image on the right is where our dining table and chairs are, and all we had to do was move the chairs. This spot is handily opposite patio doors for light.

great prom photo 1

We’d also got the perfect spot in the living room. Occupied by boxes. And, of course, it was hard to stop the dog wandering into shot too. The dog was tempted away by treats, and the boxes pushed aside, temporarily (we’re not suggesting any real tidying goes on for this).
Angle your body a little towards the light, and turn your head slightly towards the window.
Lots more on posing later, but this pose works well for showing off a dress. When standing to pose, try to have your weight on the foot furthest from the camera.

great prom photo 2


So, you’ve found/created the perfect spot, now how to pose (with thanks to our fab model, Andreya).

Use what you’ve got available.
Like, a kitchen chair.
Try sitting on it, with legs tucked underneath a little.  This means that the back of the chair becomes a handy arm rest. Arms are best lightly folded – keep the hand nearest to the camera underneath the other arm.

If wearing a knee length skirt, try to angle knees away from the camera.

The image on the right below works well for a more traditional head and shoulders portrait.

Posture is always important – aim for a straight back but with shoulders relaxed.
Lean slightly back into the chair.
Head can be straight, or tilting slightly towards the shoulder that’s furthest away from the camera.

great prom photo 3

You can also try a sofa.
Sofas can be great for leaning on one arm of. Lie on your side, looking up, or roll forward on your hips, bringing your top leg over onto the sofa.
If you have killer heels on, don’t forget to have those showing too!

great prom photo 4

For the perfect standing pose:

1. Stand facing the camera, bend one knee slightly, to have your weight mainly on one leg (doesn’t matter which – whatever feel more natural).
Rest your wrists on your hips, with your hands relaxed by your sides. Tuck your elbows in behind your waist.


2. Stand at 45 degrees to the camera, move the leg that is now nearest to the camera slightly forward and bend the knee a little.
Turn your head back towards the camera.
Arms can be dramatically on hips, model style, or holding a wrap or bag.

great prom photo 5
You may have hired a limo, or just want a ‘leaving for the prom’ shot. The best way to achieve this is to have the car at 45 degrees to the camera, with the wheels turned towards the camera.

Stand in front of the door mirror, and go with one of the standing poses from above.

great prom photo 6
Meanwhile, if you’re taking photos outside on a sunny day, remember that beautiful though a sunny day is, squinting into the sun is not a great look for photos.

great prom photo 7

Just like indoors, outside you need to take a look at what’s around (the hazards of summer – hanging baskets and shrubbery, just waiting to look like it’s growing out of your head).

great prom photo 8
We hope, with our tips, you’ll be able to create the perfect picture to grace your wall.

Meanwhile, as an extra bonus for you, here are some styling tips from our fab stylist Kate, of Ruby Rouge Make Up.

Wonder how the world’s young fashionistas consistently look perfect on the red carpet? They have a full styling team behind them, so why not you too?

Here are some top tips to ensure your look is every bit a success:

Plan ahead of time

Once you have your dress sorted, be sure to plan your hair and make-up styling in advance too. Collate some images of looks you like to show at your trial and, of course, book your appointment in plenty of time.

Love younger looking skin?


BB creams are your friend!
Great on younger skin for a lighter, breathable base providing a dewy finish.
Add some shimmer on the top of your cheekbones, nearest your hairline for extra glam.

Know when to simplify

If your dress is bright, or has lots of embellishment, keep your hair, nails and make-up simple using nude tones. Pink and peachy tones suit most skin colours.

Go bold and clash

A very modern red carpet look is not to match the make-up and dress. So if you have a simple or neutral dress, be daring with your make-up with a punchy lip colour or a bold smoky eye.

Rather get someone else for hair and make up? Contact Kate at Ruby Rouge to book your prom or event makeover.

If you’d like to download the guide for the upmost handiness, just click here for the pdf.

Much love,