Have you ever heard the term ‘photoallergenic’? It means “A strong distaste of being photographed, often so strong that an Epipen or a trip to the hospital will be required.” If you came across this term in a dictionary you would find my picture next to it. But perhaps not anymore…
I am the typical stereotype of somebody who hates herself in photos. It was bad enough for me to develop a special ‘funny face’ whenever I caught sight of a camera, so at least I was ugly on purpose. I employed elaborate choreography to avoid photographers at weddings.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’m ugly. I don’t have problems with my self-confidence. It’s just that cameras really seem to find all of my facial flaws and highlight them in the weirdest way possible. No wonder all my pictures were years out of date.
99% of photoallergenic people can do just fine in life – until the day comes that they are looking for a job. Or, like me, they work in communications and publish blog posts and newsletters that require a recent picture of the author. Then it’s drama time!
Luckily for me, I work at Impact Hub Zürich, where I had the pleasure of meeting the team behind photography startup Pep Shot. It was a no-brainer to ask for their help when I needed head shots that won’t make me cringe every time I send out my newsletter.
So what can I say? I survived my photo shoot. Actually, I more than survived. I had genuine fun, and now I’m in love with my pictures. I would very much like to share this happiness with all of my photoallergenic friends (I know you exist!). Read on for some tips on how to overcome camera shyness.
Pick the right photographer
If you have a friend who’s a professional photographer, you’re very lucky. If not, pick someone relaxed and friendly, who loves meeting new people. If they boost your confidence and make you laugh that’s even better. For me, this person was Franziska.
Read the information they send you
She sent me some tips on how to prepare. When you get it, do read it – the sooner the better. Chances are you have not deliberately chosen to put yourself in front of a camera before, so take a little time to learn what it’s all about.
Location, location, location
The photographers at Pep Shot shoot in the real world. So you can choose your own favourite spot. Somewhere like a park, café or a square with cool architecture. Because there is no stuffy studio, you’ll be in a familiar place and without any strange lights pointing at you – phew!
Preparation is the key
Have you ever watched Germany’s Next Topmodel? Remember how they always say how much work a photo shoot is? Oh yes, they were right. Plan your outfit, hairstyle and, if relevant, your make-up. There’s a clear benefit to doing this. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. This positive outlook is obvious on camera and will make your photos even better.
Take more time than you think you need
How did I manage to turn a once-feared photo shoot into the highlight of my day? I made it fun. I made the day all about me. I took time off work and treated myself to the full package. I had an appointment to get my hair and make-up done, which was pretty awesome and totally got me in the right mood.
Have a glass of champagne – or two!
This is my last and most unusual tip. It is absolutely no problem to be a tiny bit tipsy at your photo shoot. Honestly, a little Dutch courage will take away the last of your nerves and make you 100% relaxed. It worked pretty well for me!
I hope this has given you the confidence you need to go and get some new business portraits. It’s time to replace those formal post-uni CV shots with something more relaxed and up to date. A photo shoot could turn out to be a lot more fun than you think and I promise you it will be worth it!
– Katherina Giese