Adults in front of a photo camera can have great fun, or, on the contrary, it can be a traumatizing experience. I am writing this article to list some of the reasons why people freeze in front of the camera when they finally decide to have a photoshoot. From the beginning, I want to let you know this is normal and common, and it happens even to me. All ideas presented here are all my opinions based on my work as a Tokyo photographer.
Are photographers the exception to being camera shy? Well, it is not uncommon. Not long ago, I have been part of an evening event with creatives consisting of photographers, models, makeup artists, and more. Taking photos during the entire evening, I could observe that the only people that loved their time in front of the camera were mostly models (read more here about that great event). I am too one of those photographers who doesn’t like the time spend in front of a camera. Of course, I do love to see portraits of myself, after the fact. I always think I should have far more photos of my wife and myself. Sometimes, after ten days of vacation, we barely have ten portraits of each other.
My experiences as a photographer are that people have different reasons for freezing or feeling uncomfortable during a photography session. After all, we are all different.
List of the most common reasons people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera
When it comes to the most common reasons people are camera shy, there are quite a few explanations. By far, the number one reason is self-consciousness. Because of this, people, instead of relaxing and having fun during a photography session, focus their attention and mind on thinking how they would look in the final photos. More often than not, this leads to exhaustion, anxiety, and tense moments.
A while back, I did a photography session for a lovely couple in downtown Tokyo (Roppongi Area). I literally took photos of a young rocket scientist and his girlfriend- read here more about the love story between them. Soon after I took the first few photos, I realized that the young man in front of my camera was terrified. Had I pointed a shotgun at his face, he would probably have been a lot less terrified. As a photographer, I had to find ways to loosen up the tension my client was feeling. Thus, I started to explain the feelings I have while I am in front of the camera. In my case, it’s a matter related to my nose length. I dislike seeing profile photos of me (from one side of the face) because I think my nose is a tad too long. Keeping the conversation flowing helped my client to relax, and he finally forgot he was there for a photography session. I’m very proud to say he didn’t even realize when we finished the photoshoot, and he and his girlfriend could go on with their day.
The above leads to the second most common reason people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera- they think some parts of their body don’t look very pleasing. We are all very different and see and perceive things differently. I will not make a point in discussing points of view or paradigms, something better to be dealt with with the help of someone who has studied this phenomenon. From a photographer’s perspective, I can avoid some things that can very quickly look better by using different framing angles or lenses. Masking some little facial features could be achieved sometimes easily just by using a narrow aperture, a setting done in-camera for which you don’t have to worry. If you wonder what a professional photographer can hide this way, the answer covers a lot of minor things (in my humble opinion): chin, forehead, one eye smaller than the other, or cheeks. You can complete the list with anything bothering you.
A third common reason people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera consist of illnesses that leave marks on the people’s skin, like vitiligo, acne, and other similar diseases, which can affect anyone. Don’t worry, for most mild instances, if you inform your photographer, there might be ways to cover some of the issues either using the proper makeup applied by a makeup artist or, after the fact, in post-processing when digitally editing the photos. Every photographer has a different approach and may or may not be able to supply such services, which can and should come with an extra cost. Using Photoshop for advanced editing of skin to cover acne, applying a tattoo, or color the skin to cover vitiligo can be a very lengthy process and can last hours. The good news is, there is always a solution, and all you have to do is inform your photographer. I believe every photograph is a product that I can continuously improve; that’s why I learned how to do enhanced photo editing and manipulation. Down below, you can see a sped-up video of some advanced photo editing I have done for a client. Keep in mind this is only scratching the surface of what a photographer can accomplish using advanced photo editing.
A fourth common reason why people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera consists of clothing. Some people don’t know what to wear during a photoshoot to make them look better. After al, if you pay a professional photographer, why not ask for some advice too? I will not pretend I’m a mainstream Tokyo fashion photographer, but I do know a thing or two. General rules are that avoiding to wear clothes that distract will only grant for better-looking photos. Avoid big distracting logos, stripes, incorrect size, similar colors with the location of the shoot (if shooting in a park, wearing green should be avoided). Making sure to iron the clothes before the shoot sounds silly, but actually, this is something often overlooked.
A fifth and last reason which will end my list of most common reasons why people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, consists of people who have body imperfections. For obvious reasons, I will not expand on this more than necessary. All I can say is, I consider every and all people being perfect. As they say, “Beauty lies in eye of the beholder.” There is nothing to hide or feel uncomfortable about in this view. Show yourself off and be proud to be living a full life. I will be delighted to photograph you at any time of the day.
An important tip is, before scheduling any photography session, to always inform the photographer to avoid any things you may not like. I urge everyone to follow this advice anytime and tell to your professional photographer to make your portraits considering your personal preference. This way is the first step to follow to avoid never build a tension that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. If you’d like to know more about the author and read about Cristian Bucur, English speaking, and Tokyo based photographer, click here. If you have questions above the ideas presented in this article, or you would like to contribute to improving it further, please click the contact button down bellow. I would be delighted to hear from you.