Between you and me, nobody wants to see your stupid face. I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean that no one wants to see you make a stupid face in front of the camera, yet so many people do just that. Point a camera at them and they stick out their tongue, flip you the bird or make a face befitting an ogre on a rain gutter on a Scottish castle. Let me repeat, nobody wants to see your stupid face. The emphases here is on stupid, not your. This goes for your duck face, too, along with crossing your eyes, your Tim Tebo pose or any of that other silly crap. Just be yourself. If someone is taking your picture it is because they want to have a picture of you looking the way you do. Would it kill you to smile? It really isn’t that hard. As a long time professional photographer, I realize that you show me your stupid face because you feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, you are self conscience about the way you look, your teeth, your hair, your weight. Don’t worry. My job is to make you look your best and that is a lot easier when you don’t make stupid faces.
We are taught to do silly things in front of the camera at an early age. Parents are often responsible for this. Get over it, act your age and rather than acting a fool in front of the camera, play to it. Be aware of the fact that someone is taking your photo. And if you know that you are part of a candid photo don’t look at the camera. Here’s what I do when I’m on the other side of the lens, the side that most of you are usually on. The first thing I do is try to stand straight. We all hunch a little, especially once we hit 50. Then I suck it in…my gut that is, at least as best I can. From there, I try to smile. I stay aware of the photographer’s location and I do all I can to make myself look good all the while being aware that I am passively part of the creative process. Oh, and when there is a photographer lurking around at that next cocktail party you’re attending, try not to make any face that shows disgust. We can’t use those photos. Well, we can, and we will if we don’t like you. We photographers are petty that way. The easiest thing to do to safeguard from this is to simply smile.
Over the years, I have covered a lot of events. In this position it is my job to show the event as a whole, as smaller slices and as tight little vignettes of people enjoying themselves. It seems that at every event I have ever covered, there has been at least one wise guy or gal who turns his or her back every time the camera is pointed their direction. Not a good idea. We photographers see that as a challenge. Depending on how nice or how rude you are, we either strive to get a shot of you looking good or one of you looking silly. It is really very easy to do. If you happen to be one of those folks who stares at the camera every time it comes your way we tend to cut you out of shots, either while we are taking the photo or in post. If you are rude, we usually exclude you from the event altogether. I understand that this makes photographers out to be passive aggressive and that’s because we are. Play nice and we will do our best to make you look good.
I remember many times failing to get a good shot of someone who played nicely while I was doing my job. In every case, I did all I could in post to fix their shots and to make them look good. A comb over gone bad, I can fix it. Spinach or lipstick on your teeth, not a problem. Eyes closed on the best shot, I’ll clip your eyes from a different photo and Photoshop them in to make you look great. But prove to be nasty to the photographer and we might forget to delete the shot of you where you are stuffing half a pie in your mouth, or that one where you look like you are picking your nose.
We photographers are a powerful lot. We control how you look to a certain extent. I remember photographing the President of the United States one time, and I noticed that about half the press pool fired wildly when the President struck a good and powerful pose, and the other half fired away machine gun style only when he did something that made him look silly. Many media photographers go into an event knowing exactly what type of photos they will look for. These are usually the shots they think they can sell. This gives the photographer a great deal of power in the media world. Fortunately, you have nothing to worry about from me. I am usually hired by someone to take photos that make everyone look their best. My job is to make you look good. So the next time you see me, or someone like me, smile. It won’t hurt, and it may very well help.
On a related note… If for some reason you really do not want to be included in photos at an event where there is a photographer, simply and politely tell them that you would prefer not to be in any photos. We will not ask questions. We will simply abide by your wishes. By rudely telling us not to take your picture, you run a very grave risk of ending up on the cover of the National Inquirer. Some of my favorite excuses for not wanting to be photographed are as follows:
- I’m wanted for child support in three states.
- There’s a warrant out for my arrest.
- My boss thinks I’m working.
- My wife thinks I’m somewhere else.
That last one being my all-time favorite. If you do not want to be in the photos, be honest and polite about it, or at least come up with a fun excuse.