5 Ways to Tell: Is Your Photo Faking It?

natural photo of Karina LouiseOne of the most popular things my San Francisco Portrait Photography clients ask for is a good, candid shot. They then often proceed to explain in detail exactly what “candid” looks like.  They seem to have every detail considered; what they want to wear, what they want to convey, etc. But they make it clear that they want it to seem like it wasn’t set up- as though they didn’t even know the camera was around.

“I want it look like I’m not trying too hard, but I want to look good.”

And so we are usually faced with an ironic situation: this person has thought about their profile photo at length and even though they are already trying so hard to control the outcome, they want me to make it look like they’re not.

After hearing this request so many times I began to ask myself, what does “trying hard” look like?

5 Characteristics of a “Fake Photo”

1. A tense or forced smile

2. Skin that is overly re-touched/airbrushed

3. Unnatural lighting

4. Fake/staged background

5. The use of props that draw focus away from the person

You know a “fake photo” when you see one. Basically, everything in the photo is just a little too perfect. And in my experience, this is where potential dates and potential employers alike can start to lose interest.

In my opinion, good social media headshots, whether for Twitter, Facebook, online dating or a professional profile pictures for LinkedIn, while it might be taken by an expert, it should have a feeling of spontaneity.

My job isn’t always as simple as it might seem because often it takes time to stop analyzing so much and to be yourself on camera. I want my clients to get out of their heads and into their best photos and sometimes, this takes serious work! I happily give everyone top 5 photo tips with steps to take before our shoot together and during the shoot I use my background in feeling un-photogenic and the skills I’ve learned to make sure they feel comfortable. 9 times out of 10, I am thrilled with the results, and fortunately for me, my clients love their photos too!