Making up for what others lack

I know this already posted – and I’m adding to it (so faux pas) of me! But I wanted to show this from another POV, and since it’s my blog – I get to do that. 😉


Noelle’s POV: 
Why is it that people look at photographers as fairy godmothers or should I say plastic surgeons?  They think we can make them skinny, tan, tall, and everything opposite that they hate about themselves.  After taking some newborn/family portraits once the first thing the mother said was, “I look fat!”  Not, I love them or thank you.  I was very disheartened.  Now I am a mother of three, I know exactly how that women felt but I think she lost the main purpose of those photos.  To capture the beauty of a miracle and to remember how small and perfect her baby is.  For a while what she said bugged me.  I felt like I failed as a photographer to make her… I dunno… skinny?  I thought she looked GREAT for just having a baby and I didn’t think anything of her weight.  Trust me, as a photographer you have to know how to pose and make every body look flattering.  She did not need any retouching.  So I kind of shook it off and then my next shoot came along and the same thing happened.  It was a family shoot in their home and the mom complained about her arms.  I felt like I failed again.  I should’ve known she hated the size of her arms, right?  I should only taken head shots or at the max, torso and cut off half of her arms.  I failed again.  I felt the photos turned out great but it made me so sad that my clients didn’t appreciate my work as much as they hated the way they looked.  And again shoot number three.  Have you noticed that things always happens in three, groups or waves.  I guess complaints are no exceptions.  “My husband was upset that I was squinting.”  That’s when I realized it wasn’t my photography.  Yes that last one is usually the photographers fault IF it is bright outside, but it wasn’t.  That’s the way my client smiled.  It will forever irk me when someone, at first sight of their photo says something negative about themselves but I have to remember that they are dissing them and not my work.  I even at one point started practicing how to slim people down.  It’s actually a lot easier then it sounds, but wait!  I’m a photographer, not a photoshopper!  So I stopped.  We live in a world where models are photoshopped to be skinnier, bustier, tanner, smoother, perfected and it’s hard to follow suit.  I think many people understand that and we as photographers need to know, like I mentioned before, the best way to photograph certain people.  But there is only a certain amount you can do.  The rest lies in the confidence of themselves.  I have a photographer friend that was looking through his work to find his best photos of 2009 and guess what they were?  Boudoir’s of an overweight yet confident woman.  How awesome is that?  We as photographers can’t afford to lack confidence.  If anything we need to make up for the lack of our subjects.  Bring your clients back to the main reason your taking their photos.  To remember what their kids looked like at these ages, to remember how they feel about one another and to have this stage of their lives documented forever.

Leah’s POV:
Noelle is right! You just can’t please everyone and it is soooo disheartening when an image that you saw the genuine beauty in – is brushed aside because of some (in your own opinion) miner flaw. I have had it happen and after the first couple times I changed my philosophy. Maybe in reality it’s because of my own vanity? 
Because of this I look at retouching in a different light. I soften EVERYONES skin. During the shoot I pay attention to what they seem insecure about and I pay special attention to shoot at a specific angle, crop in a certain way or retouch in post processing to help them feel there best. 
Let me share an email exchange between a client and I…
The client: I have a mildly embarrassing question to ask.
My teeth aren’t so hot.  I plan on getting veneers but they are expensive and I just haven’t done it yet.
Anyhow I usually don’t smile in pictures because I’m self conscious and if I do I usually have to Photoshop my teeth. My question: For the photos, would it be better if I just grin like this? (showed a picture) Or smile and Photoshop? Here is what my un-Photoshoped smile usually looks like: (another picture)

Here is my answer: 

Please don’t feel embarrassed in the least. We all have our things that we are very self aware of, and my teeth are not the least of mine either, nor are my extremely large feet (now your going to be looking 😉 Do to braces, retainers and a lot of other mouth gear I have yellow teeth in spots with bright white calcifications in others and when I bleach the white gets so bright I often have to stop, add to that Julia Robert’s sized teeth and my smile is very, lets say striking. 😉 I’ve had my teeth filed down twice and corrected with specialty bleaching and I still photoshop my smile to whiten and brighten! It’s very important to me that when my clients see a portrait of themselves they see it the way the rest of us do. Your wife, your daughter, your friends and family all see you for the wonderful person you are! I understand that when we look at images of ourselves we see them for all the flaws we might carry. As a standard I soften all skin, brighten eye and whiten teeth. I think you have a wonderful smile and without it we won’t truly be able to see the joy that your daughter brings you (as by looking at the blog, I can tell she does!!) 
I sincerely want my clients to know that they can ask me anything. My boutique style of photography is very specialized to each and every family and we want to address all aspects from wardrobe to teeth to style so that when you hang your new canvas collection on your wall you will truly love your work of art! Thank you for the question!
Sincerely, 
Leah 

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So there you have it. Two different yet similar opinions on how to deal where others lack. You will no doubt connect with one more then the other and thats okay! Thats the beauty of it, we can all be great photographers and uniquely different at the same time! ~Leah 

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