candid profile picture of San Francisco woman It seems there are two types of people: those that look great in almost every photo they are in, and then, there are the rest of us. As a photographer (and a person who for the majority of my life considered myself “un-photogenic”) I have noticed that there are lots of people who hate themselves in pictures. Many people think that just because they don’t look great in every candid shot, it’s nearly impossible to get a good photo of themselves.

But what does photogenic mean?

According to the dictionary, the word photogenic has 3 definitions:

1. Attractive as a subject for photography.

2. Producing or emitting light.

3. Caused or produced by light.

Most of us think of the first definition when discussing the word- we think of people who look good in photos. But as a portrait photographer, I find it interesting that two of the three meanings have to do with light because even and especially when it comes to taking a good photo of a person, lighting can make or break how good someone looks.

I think it’s true that some people just have an easier time getting good photos, but I also think it’s true that a beautiful portrait can be taken of anyone. I love shooting people who are “not photogenic.” One of my greatest joys is when a client tells me before the shoot that they look terrible in pictures and then afterwards, they are excited and surprised with how great they look in the photos. Finally seeing a good photo of themselves is a priceless experience and I am honored to be the one holding the camera.

“The state of being photogenic may or may not necessarily be related to one’s physical attractiveness in real life. Models are usually described as photogenic. The bone structure of their faces may represent something that is not generally pretty or may be even unattractive or frail looking, but when photographed; their features can turn into something that is physically attractive.”

~ Quote from Wikipedia on the definition of Photogenic