After an incredible number of photo-shoots for this website, I understood that being photogenic doesn’t really exist.
Being photogenic (a state which I did not find any precise definition for, except perhaps “that looks good in picture”) is first and foremost a question of lighting (which is actually quite obvious given the fact that “photo” means “light” in ancient Greek if my memory serves me right).
The photographic eye captures things that the human eye does not see. In my case, I recently discovered that my smile isn’t symmetrical. Also, I just discovered that I have duvet on the sides of my face. I had never given much attention to these features in real life, simply because the human oeil could not see them when the photographic eye can.
Being photogenic, from what I’ve gathered, has to do with the way light hits your face, how it highlights the curves and hollows of a face or body. The only difficulty is finding the right angles, the ones with which the light will react properly, knowing that a picture is unidimensional.
Each one of us has his or her own “good” angles… Apart from telling you that you’ve got to give it a shot to see if it works out or not, there’s not much more I could say, it really about you.
In my case, putting my chin out gives me (too much of) a warrior-like look which does not flatter my faces proportions. The lack of smile can quickly make me look like a bitch from the 8th district of Paris who thinks too highly of herself.
(Proof: the nasty look of the Parisian 8th district bitch)
Nonetheless, I can point out a few no-nos.
For instance: don’t talk during a photo-shoot. It seems obvious but our first instinct is often – as a subject being photographed – to move around, fidget and talk to dissipate the slight uneasiness that accompanies the process of having so much attention from someone else. Mistake. Big mistake. What feels harmonious in real life can be such a disaster once it’s captured and frozen on a picture.
However, it’s a good idea to smile. Not like a moron, like I tend to do, not with a face full of folds. Nope. A real smile, calm, serene, eyes open. A beautiful smile, without putting an emphasis on your cheeks or chin to underline a graceful neck.
(Proof : 8th district based moron face)
Oh, and don’t hide yourself: it doesn’t help, really.
Stand up straight. This is all the more important given that some clothes, because of their cut, can quickly give a slumped look in a picture (I’m thinking of raglan-sleeved coats for example, that don’t mark the shoulder) or make you look like a little piece of ham (I’m thinking of American sleeves, although I’ve got nothing against ham).
Don’t go for crude lights, or lights that come from straight above you (the subway…) and choose clear and diffuse lights instead. Between us, contrary to what some may think, the natural light of a beautiful sun is the single most flattering light. It unifies your complexion and adds a refreshing touch of brightness to any photo. For instance, I had a pimple for this photo-shoot but you can’t really see it, not because I touched anything up with one of the many available apps but because the sun, in its infinite generosity, nearly erased it (I’ve got such a tired face but in its infinite generosity, the sun…).
When the photo is a close-up, avoid being too close to the objective, simply because it has a slightly distorting effect and your face may look similar to Pinnocchio’s. Who wants to look like Pinnocchio, except the actor who plays Pinnocchio in Pinnocchio’s adventures, I wonder…
Likewise, when your photographer is tall (which happens to me frequently) and you are rather short (which is a constant in my life), the photographer must bend his or her knees to get the objective at the level of your torso or else you’ll look like a slumped Lilliputian on the pictures. And who wants to look like a Lilliputian, except for the actors who play Lilliputians in Gulliver’s travels, I wonder…
(When I look 1.80 meter and I’m really pretty tiny)
Don’t smoke on a picture, no, no, no, no (and I’m the one saying that…). Okay, let me try again. Don’t smoke on pictures frequently because it conveys a not-so-good example to young ones. In addition, capturing the perfect smoking moment that perfectly echoes the American film noir vibe, you’re going to have to smoke two or three cigarettes at least (talking from experience here). We can’t all be Lauren Bacall and you’ll probably just end up channelling Marge Simpson’s sisters, Patty and Selma Bouvier, who’ve always got a fag hanging from the corner of their mouths, indescribably classy…
And who wants to look like the Bouvier sisters, except maybe the Bouvier sisters, I wonder… Yeah, that’s right: no one.
Tara Jarmon jacket – Christian Lacroix dress – Dior heels – Loewe handbag embellished with a Fendi fur – Miu Miu sunglasses – Agnelle gloves