How to stay photogenic even when a pro photographer isn't around

Nobody is Photogenic Anymore


by Britney Gardner

As a photographer of woman, I hear a fair amount of excuses as to why you’re not yet ready for a photo shoot. When out in public, I’m sure you hear variations of the same.


“Oh, you’ll have your work cut out for you, I’m so unphotogenic!”

“I’m going to ruin the photo. I don’t look good in pictures.”

“I hate being in photos, they always catch my bad side.”


At the beginning of my professional photography days, I didn’t hear these comments nearly as often. Now I hear them at every event I attend. Thinking back, the first time I heard a grouping of these comments was at a happy hour get-together for an old group of high school friends. Someone pulled out a cell phone and mushed everyone together for a group photo. I think it might even have been a flip phone, barely web resolution. The lighting in the restaurant was abysmal. I looked good that evening, but in that photo, you’d never know it.

And there it began. The era of the smartphone camera and dim bar lighting. The era of the horrid flash and bad color and Instagram filters that instantly sallow skin. The era in which nobody is photogenic.

On the one hand, it’s made my job much easier – people are shocked when they see how spectacular they look in proper lighting with a little posing help. On the other? Convincing them they need a photo of themselves has gotten a whole lot harder when every other image they’ve seen in the last ten years is unflattering at best, green, glowing cat-eyed with a dazed expression at worst.


How to stay photogenic even when a pro photographer isn't around
A photographer and a wardrobe stylist manage to maintain their image at networking events even in the era of smartphone cameras.


So what’s a socially-savvy, often-networking, out-in-public woman to do? Someone will inevitably pull out a camera. Hopefully, it’s last year’s model with a decent camera. Either way, how do you look your best?

  • Learn how to quickly pose: stick your chin out, give the biggest, most genuine smile you can, and side angle your body to the camera
  • Control who can tag you on social media (always, always require approval in your profile!)
  • Flood your social media with great photos of yourself to outweigh those few bad images that sneak through occasionally
  • If it’s going to be awkward, play it up. Own it!

Note: Only one of those options involves the actual photo! If you’re looking for more tips on how to look great in non-professional photos, I spent a bit of time creating a free pocket guide to help you. The more you know before they take the photo, the less you’ll have to deal with after. Take control back: don’t let the camera phones stop you from having a great time!





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16 Replies to “Nobody is Photogenic Anymore”

  1. Selah Janel

    Love this! And so true – It wasn’t until I sat down for proper headshots that i realized how good I could actually look, plus I had a patient photographer and his wife help me learn how to actually position myself well. That’s something I’ve learned to try to apply in random, daily photos, though, unfortunately, there’s always the odd shot that gets taken that sends me into mutant territory. Some great tips that I was glad to be reminded of!

  2. Andrena

    Great article, Britney. I have many so clients who say, “I want you to do a beautiful portrait of me, maybe in three months when I lose some weight,” etc. But they look great now. People are too hard on themselves. I love helping people look their best, and I know you do, too.

  3. Rebecca Little

    Good advice! I always get flustered getting my picture taken, so it’s good to have an idea of what I can do when someone pulls out a camera. And since I’ve had kids, I’m much more forgiving of myself and am more willing to step in front of the camera.

  4. Marcia Gold

    This is awesome. I never thought about the WHY, only the final result. What you say makes perfect sense. I really wish I lived closer to you so you could take our family pictures.

  5. Cindy Fandl

    Great advice! It’s not all visual, it’s psychological too! If you are going to be in photos, BE in the photo to the best of your ability. Great post, Britney!

  6. Danielle Richards

    So true – to the point that I wish I had a nickel for every time a subject made similar comments. Or a nickel for every time I’ve said it about myself! Between the unrealistic body images flaunted by advertising and the popularity of selfies, most people don’t realize just how beautiful they really are until photographed by a pro.

  7. Amy Prutch

    Yup, guilty of pretty much everything you wrote and totally inspired to do something about it. Great read, thank you!

  8. Alecia Hoyt

    So true!

  9. Chris Arnold

    What a great article. I am probably one of the worst when it comes to exclaiming how terrible I look in photos. Great tips on how to look your best even when you weren’t expecting to have your photograph taken.

    1. Avatar photo
      Britney Gardner[ Post Author ]

      Thank you!

  10. Allegra

    Wow! You are SO right! I never thought about it that way. Almost all my pictures are selfies or arms length with a group. That explains a lot doesnt it? I may need to call you!

    1. Avatar photo
      Britney Gardner[ Post Author ]

      Even as a photographer I agree, a vast majority of my photos are selfies at arm length!

  11. Liss

    Isn’t that the truth? That’s what I respond to I-look-terrible-in-pictures comments: well no wonder you think that when all you see on facebook are the pictures your friends post of you. People have such a distorted view of themselves now! Thanks for saying this.

    1. Avatar photo
      Britney Gardner[ Post Author ]

      You’re very welcome!

  12. Tammy Smith

    What a great article. I completely agree with you. It’s sad how many women don’t see themselves as beautiful. It’s so wonderful to be able to show then just how gorgeous they really are through being photographed by a professional.

    1. Avatar photo
      Britney Gardner[ Post Author ]

      I agree, so sad! And then so great to show them how wrong they are and that they truly are beautiful!

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