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The Photographer’s Dilemma

January 28th, 2010

The short dark days must be getting to me! With apologies to Shakespeare and Hamlet:-

To shoot or not to shoot - That is the question.

Whether tis better that my pride should suffer

Harsh comment and my peers derision,

Because I photograph in poor conditions

An image, that cries out to be recorded,

To live, to influence, to have existence:

Or that I leave my camera in its case

For fear I can’t achieve the right exposure

Or get the perfect composition.

That way my reputation photographic,

Stays intact, and not a word of criticism

Do I need to take. Except perhaps in quiet moments

Memories of opportunities I lost.

Kingston 4N Meeting

January 28th, 2010

Hart’s Boatyard is the picturesque setting for breakfast meetings of the newly formed Kingston group of 4Networking.

It’s a classic case where the people warranted photographing, so I took the photos anyway despite multiple light sources and constantly changing light levels. (Please read “The Photographer’s Dilemma” my next post)

A fun and productive time was had by all.

Trust, Confidentiality and Discretion

January 25th, 2010

Gaining the confidence of our clients is essential if they are going to look their best in the photographs we produce. Only when I have a mutual rapport with my client will they be able to give the camera the freedom of facial expression necessary for any form of people photography.

Trust and confidentiality are fundamental in gaining that confidence. Our clients know that that we are “on their side” and that we will work with them to achieve whatever they want.

Say it with Words and Photos

January 3rd, 2010

In many ways communication has never been easier. In addition to traditional publications, fliers, correspondence and telecommunications we now have Facebook, Twitter, Phone texts, emails, blogs and websites by and through which to send our messages.

Composing the right message to get across what you want to say however is no easier today than when Caxton invented the Printing Press.

Some will tell you that words paint the best pictures. Others will tell you that a picture is worth a thousand words. At Look Good on Camera we believe in both.

So we have just launched our new Say it with Words and Pictures Service.

We are your one stop shop for copy (prose or rhymes) and photos for adverts, advertorials, magazine articles, websites, promotional material, posters etc.

Call Bob Jones on 07920 130985 to discuss your needs or email us at info@lookgoodoncamera.com

Being Photographed

January 3rd, 2010

How can I look better when I’m being photographed? People ask.

Because there is no active verb to express “being photographed”, we use the passive voice. This conveys that something is being done to us as opposed to us doing something ourselves.

Being photographed should not be a passive action.

We don’t say Kate Winslett and Leonardo di Caprio are “being filmed”, we say they are filming or acting. They are performing for the camera.

So let’s stop “being photographed” and start “performing for the camera”. Let’s stop being victims of the camera and take control of the images it sees.

The camera can only photograph what we choose to show it. A Look Good on Camera photo-shoot will give you the skills and techniques to present the camera with images of yourself that you want to see in the photographs that it produces.

First Impression

September 28th, 2009

A great deal has been spoken and written about the importance of first impressions. In my view most of what is said about first impression is actually second or third impression e.g. clothes and hair. Yes, we may notice those things within seconds of meeting someone, but we have already noticed so much more within nanoseconds of seeing them for the first time. Virtually instantaneously we noticed: -

1.) That they are a human animal,

2.) That they are male or female

3.) That they are or are not an immediate threat to our personal safety.

So once our mind has established that we are dealing with another human animal the first thing we notice is not clothes or looks but gender.

No matter how much we try to convince ourselves that society should be equal and that both sexes should be treated the same, our primitive animal instinct will ensure that the first thing we notice about someone is whether they’re male or female. If we see someone and we are not certain about their gender, it irks us, and ascertaining whether they are male or female becomes more important than anything else about them.

If you’re not convinced about our obsession with gender ask yourself what is the first question most people ask about a new baby?

So if you’re going to make a good visual impression, don’t understate your sexuality. That does not mean wearing a muscle shirt or a tight-fitting mock leopard skin dress. It means being comfortable with and proud of your gender. Whether you want to be perceived as a sensitive caring soul, or as a competent practical professional, people are going to see you first as male or female. If you show confidence in your gender their very first impression, no matter how subconscious, will be positive.

The other thing we instinctively check is whether the person is an immediate threat. We do that by interpreting their facial expression and their body language.

It doesn’t matter that we are in a secure and safe place and everyone is on their best behaviour. When we first catch sight of someone, our subconscious animal instincts lock in and check out gender, facial expression and body language.

I’m sorry Fashion Gurus, the Armani suit, the Jimmy Choo shoes and the Cartier watch are very secondary, no matter how much society extols their importance.

Similarly, those of you who consider that you ignore the trappings of clothes and accessories, and base your judgement on the individual’s physique and/or the way they speak, only do so after you’ve subconsciously established sex, facial expression and body language.

People seeing us for the first time are a very receptive audience for our facial expression and body language. It makes sense therefore for us to work on our facial expression and body language so that they convey the messages that we want to send out.

So if we want to consistently give a good first impression we need to be confident of and comfortable with our sexuality, capable of sending out positive vibes from our body language and familiar with how to use our facial expressions to make others feel good about us.

The best way of developing these skills and monitoring our progress is by working on our image and reviewing the results until we can instinctively manage and control the image we present to others. There is no better way to do this than to practice having your photograph taken in a reactive photo-shoot, discovering the angles and expressions that work best for you, and learning how to reproduce them on an on-going basis.

Or with due deference and apologies to Kipling and his admirers: -

If you can give to others positive assurance

By the way you look, and hold your head and hands

If they can see that you are confident of your own image

And not afraid to show that you are woman or a man

If you can face the camera looking certain

Sending it a message with your eyes

The first impression of you will be pleasing

And you’ll be photogenic, everytime

Bob Jones, September 2009

How to Look Honest on Camera

September 25th, 2009

Just because you are as honest and genuine as the day is long doesn’t mean to say that you will appear that way in photographs. Some of the most honest people that I know are so shy that their uncertainties come over very strongly in their appearance. As a result they look positively shifty in photographs. Similarly we all know people that appear honest on film that we wouldn’t trust with our loose change.

So what is the secret of looking open and trustworthy on camera? Practice. Practise having your photograph taken in an interactive photo-shoot. Learn how to engage the camera with your eyes, cultivate a genial smile, and let those lines of expression demonstrate concern.

But remember any solution is specific to you. For example a half smile works for some while for others it becomes a leer. A full smile is very attractive on some people but on others it resembles a staged grimace.

Work on your facial image and body language through a proven effective interactive process and have fun doing it.

Look Sexy on Camera

September 23rd, 2009

Few people look better on camera than the legendary Sophia Loren. So if you want to look sexy it’s worth considering what she had to say about sex appeal.

The great actress reportedly said:- “Sex appeal is 50 percent what you’ve got and 50 percent what people think you’ve got.”

So to look sexy on camera you’ve got to:-

1. Make the most of what you’ve got. There are a number of tips on how to do that on various parts of this website so let’s not duplicate those here.

2. Make people believe that you’ve got a lot more than what they can see. To do this you have to fire their imagination. A naked bum may be nice to look at but it doesn’t provoke the imagination as much as a suggestive look or a smile.

To look sexy on camera you have to use your eyes, your mouth and facial expression. The most perfect body is sexless without a face. A face alone can be extremely sexy.

So if you want to look sexy on camera, use facial expression, body language, and most of all the sexiest organs in the human body - the eyes.

Client Security

January 8th, 2009

Now that I’m retired from medicine, I realise how much I used to take my patients’ trust for granted. Whether in my consulting room or visiting them in their homes I never considered that they would think of me as anything other than their trusted confidential professional advisor.

So when I started making appointments for photo-shoots, it never occurred to me that my clients might have some reservations around their personal security when inviting a stranger into their home or indeed visiting one in a studio. After all many of my clients book photo-shoots via the website and email and have never actually met me prior to the appointment.

I therefore felt that I needed to address this natural concern and have added a section on client security to the “About Us” page on the website.

If anyone reading this has any ideas on vetting procedures or how clients can obtain the necessary assurances about people like myself, I would be interested to hear from them.

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

January 3rd, 2009

Some of my clients come to me because they want to know how to look good in their wedding photos, so I do get asked from time to time if I can recommend a wedding photographer. I thought it might be useful therefore to include a few words of advice on that subject:-
Before choosing your wedding photographer you need to think a little about what you want. Wedding photographers can have very different styles and there can be a considerable difference in cost.

Location

It is generally more practical and less costly to commission a photographer who is based in the area in which the wedding is going to take place. So local contacts, Thompson’s Directory and Yellow Pages are useful sources of information. You may, of course prefer to use someone that did a particularly good job for your friend/relation a hundred miles or more away. If so, ensure that they can provide you with the time and service that you require at a price that is acceptable to you.

If you are having your wedding at a special venue or hotel, it is worth asking them about local photographers that people use frequently. As we will see later there is a considerable advantage if your photographer is familiar with the venue and and the exact spots that lend themselves to good photographs. (I’ve seen too many bride and groom photos spoilt by the obtrusive drainpipe in the background)

Style

There are a huge number of photographers’ sites on the web which are well worth looking at, to formulate your ideas of what you like and what you don’t want. For example do you want everyone looking as though they have just stepped out of Vogue, or do you want something more relaxed. Do you want mood and attitude or do you want smiles and alleged reality. Do you want lots of family groups or do you want lots of impromptu shots of family members enjoying themselves.

None of these things are mutually exclusive, you just need to decide what you want. Have a look at some photographers’ work and decide what you prefer. You can’t expect your photographer to be a mind reader. You have to tell him or her what you want. Don’t be afraid to show him or her examples that you have seen and liked. More importantly, obtain samples of work done by your prospective photographer. Wedding photography is a commercial business. You need to shop around for what suits you best.

Chemistry 

Okay, call me a romantic, but I still think you need to bond with your photographer. When I say you, I mean you, your partner, your Mum & Dad, bridesmaids etc. There are some fantastic technically able photographers who have little in the way of people skills. Look Good on Camera would not exist if every photographer knew how to get the best out of their clients.

So I would advise you to choose someone you are comfortable with, and who is going to be receptive to your needs and requests. I would also recommend that you look at the tips on this website to ensure that you are going to look your photogenic best.

The days when wedding photographers just turned up on the day, took a few standard photographs and rushed off to attend another wedding are long gone. You should expect your photographer to give your wedding the attention and time that it deserves. You need to interview prospective candidates and get a clear picture of the service that they are going to provide.

In my view a good wedding photographer will meet with you and your partner, and possibly other family members, ushers, bridesmaids etc beforehand to determine the scope and timing of the photographs. You may wish them to include photographs of the wedding party’s preparation for the ceremony (hair styling, suit fitting, make-up application etc), so choose someone who you are going to be comfortable with photographing you in those situations.

Familiarity

Your photographer needs to be familiar with your requirements and the venue/location in which he or she is going to take photographs. As a UK based photographer, I am only too familiar with the vagaries of climate and weather. Your photographer has to have contingency plans for fine and foul weather conditions in/near your wedding venue. Don’t forget to ask about them.

Background to wedding photographs can be so important. We can’t all get married on a Hawaiian beach with the sun setting behind us, but your wedding photographer should be able to choose an appropriate background near to the Wedding venue for you to pose for those photographs that are going to adorn the homes of your nearest and dearest for years to come.

Cost

Prices vary. Make sure that you compare like with like. I would advise getting a package that includes a set number of appropriately sized photographs plus a disc of all photographs taken that you can use to print more photographs at a later time, if you so desire. [Please note that you do need to ensure that the photographic files are of a sufficiently high resolution to allow good quality prints to be made from them. As a rule of thumb the file sizes should be in megabytes rather than kilobytes. This may sound a bit geeky but it is important. You should remember that copyright stays with the photographer unless otherwise negotiated.] 

In conclusion, I believe that the choice of a wedding photographer is a very personal matter. I can only hope that the above few paragraphs are of help to you. Good luck with your wedding plans.

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