Last Blog we looked at 4 Tips and Tricks which could help you achieve Picture Perfect Posing by altering your body position.
This time we are looking into taking control of the mindset....
I think we can all agree that most people "dislike" (that is a polite was of saying "hate") their photo being taken. And indeed the photos themselves.
In a group pic you can be hidden or in the background - a headshot is all about you though! And invariably we don't like seeing pictures of ourselves. Especially, close up.
Not a great start!
So we looked at posing tips in the First Part of this Blog series - the plan now is to take control of the mindset and get into the photo shoot with positivity and enthusiasm which will hopefully come through in your photos.
So let's get going.
Picture Perfect Posing Tips (Part 2)
Transforming how you feel about your photoshoot.
Tip - Embrace it
When the day arrives for your photoshoot you'll probably have nothing else on your mind apart from the sheer terror of getting your picture taken.
You'll be praying for an excuse to escape the office. Or working on a fake one if you're half sensible.
When you walk into the room you will see lights, bags of kit, tripods, bounces, a laptop and such like.
It'll be more like a dental surgery and at that point, more than likely, you'd probably prefer to be there.
This is the last place you want to be, probably because you:-
1. Don't feel any control.
2. Have a history of photos being awful.
3. Have a history of being really uncomfortable being photographed.
So with this fear you will be understandably tense and wishing it was over.
First, hire a photographer who knows what they are doing.
Strategic position of a photo of me....
If the photographer is obviously in control, it will settle things down.
Find a photographer who can build a rapport with staff and put them at ease. A photographer who is flexible and can adjust things to suit the individual being shot. Importantly a photographer who will listen. Someone who can get the shot; and someone you can get on with.
Its an important investment, so getting the right person is key.
Back to the day of the shoot.
When you walk into that room one thing is certain:- photos will be taken.
What's not certain though is how you feel, and connected with that, how the pics will turn out.
If you approach an obstacle thinking you will fail, you probably will. If you think you will overcome it, you probably will too.
So how you feel will probably have an impact on your photos.
I have read the body language of hundreds of people getting their pics taken and can see that, very often, those who are able to get "stuck in" tend to reap the rewards - that, though, is based on my experience, not science.
I thought therefore I would seek an expert's opinion on this and arranged a zoom call with Glasgow-based Sport and Performance Psychology Consultant, Jeffrey Webster MBPsS, MSc, MSc, BSc. from the Jeffrey Webster: Performance Agency who very kindly offered his time to help provide information to guide those getting their pics taken.
Jeffrey's clients are primarily from sporting life, including professional level individual athletes to sporting governing bodies such as Scottish Squash where performance and anxiety need to work hand-in-hand to get that competitive edge.
Also Jeffrey works with performers in a more general sense - in other words those who find themselves in the spotlight and for whom success is important - exactly like someone getting a headshot taken: the lights are on and you want a good result.
We chatted about the typical scenario of someone getting a bit nervous about the whole thing and I asked whether self doubt is normal.
Jeffrey reassuringly advised:
"Self-doubt is a completely natural part of being human, especially when we are in meaningful situations and perceive any form of judgement. We often worry about having self-doubt and try to avoid it or pay too much attention to it. So when you are having a photo taken, it matters to you. You are therefore under pressure and self-doubt can creep in".
So it seems that being nervous and having all sorts of self doubt is to be expected - good news - its normal!
How then to deal with it - I asked whether we should try and ignore it, pretend its wrong and try to "delete" it or embrace it: use it to help us reach our goal which in this case is a good, natural looking pic.
"Acknowledging and accepting that self-doubt comes hand-in-hand with performing can help us carry out the task at hand with ease. What to avoid is getting sucked into negative thoughts and the effects that these have including, in a photo context, looking awkward in a photo."
So if we accept that self doubt is part of the package, and don't try to fight it, we can use it to get where we want to be.
It seems counter-intuitive though to use self-doubt to your advantage - I asked Jeffrey how he would use it in a photo context to get the best out of the shoot.
"Even just acknowledging self-doubt as meaningless and unhelpful can direct our focusing on the more important and helpful bits of information, like what the photographer is asking from you or what you need to look at/do. “
So thats good news - follow Jeffrey's advice: try to identify your self-doubt, so you can focus on more positive and productive things.
What about confidence though - this is often a niggle - when the lights are on and the camera is pointing at you its at that stage you start to think about all the things that could go wrong - you could look awkward, your hair might annoy you and you might simply have a real "downer" on how you look.
I asked Jeffrey about Confidence and he advised:-
"Confidence is better seen as our ability to focus on the task at hand whilst these self-doubt thoughts are present. Remember, confidence is not determined from a lack of self-doubt."
So in other words once we realise that self-doubt is part of the package, and we can control it, we can confidently focus on the photo shoot to get what we hope to achieve.
How would someone do that though?
"In the context of a photo shoot, It may be a good idea to have a controlled response prepared, so when the self-doubt kicks in, you’re not thrown by it. Instead, you are ready to counter-act it with some helpful motivation and instruction. For example, something as simple as “you can do this” (motivation) or “shoulders off to the side” (instruction) can help you ignore your self-doubt and move forward more positively and productively.
So what three tips does Jeffrey have to get the perfect mindset for embracing your photoshoot:-
1. Stay Present
Taking each one individually.
1. Stay Present
Our brain likes to gravitate towards negative situations in the past, and that in turn, can make us worry about those situations happening again in the future. So let’s try to focus in the present and zone into the ‘here and now’. Treat this is a great opportunity to get top notch "marketing material". These photos will promote your personal "brand", get more business or increase credibility. What is going to help you achieve marketing material or build your brand? What can you focus on in order to get the best results? Your answers here will help you focus on what needs to be done in the here and now.
Tell yourself it will work. Believe in yourself. Embrace it. Enjoy it. It's 15 minutes or so away from answering emails (that you've been copied into that don't actually matter to you). Your boss isn't looking over your shoulder. It's a time to do something fresh and different. It's time out. What the worst that can happen too? We check out the result, see what we like/don't like, adjust it and try again. If it's good after a few shots, all the better. If you are terrified getting your photo taken it will probably come through: so be the "confident you" that's in there. It will work.Think of a time when you enjoyed a photo being taken. Focus on that. Or think about the best photo you have ever seen of you - if it can happen then, it can happen again. Write them down. A crib sheet for the photo session.
Focus on the good memories, not the bad ones.
When I'm working I always enjoy building up a rapport with my client. It should be relaxed and fun although of course I need to keep an eye on making the pics excellent and to the brief.
A bit of banter is always good.
When someone walks in to have their pic taken we will start chatting. A blether. Nothing forced or formal - just a chat.
No faffing with kit either. Thats ready to go. Just a chat about whatever seems right - the usual nonsense.
I get them straight into doing things too. Folk are anxious and as we know, being nervous about something is usually worse than the thing itself - we've all experienced that - being nervous about something and once its done we report "It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...". So we get going immediately to settle the nerves.
Once they are into the shoot they realise its not that bad. I offer tips on how to stand. Thats a settler as they generally don't know where to start (neither do some pro models either so, again, don't be harsh on yourself....) That therefore introduces some control over the pic. Small adjustments to feet, weigh distribution, angle of elbows etc. all give them a job to do and now they feel they can contribute to this outcome - more control, less fear. "Knowledge Dispels Fear". See the first Blog in this series.
If there are things you don't like about yourself, or have had an awful experience getting pics taken, let the photographer know.
I really appreciate when someone walks in to my studio and blurts out a 1000 reasons why this is a nightmare.
I then have something to work with.
On one occasion a young member of staff in a large international Accountancy practice disliked the left side of her face. From my perspective there was nothing wrong, but what I thought was irrelevant. What counted was how she felt. We all have these features we aren't happy with - mine is my nose. Anyway back to my client. I positioned her taking into account the bit she didn't like, moved the light to throw that part of her face into shadow and placed a black board nearby to deepen the shadow. She was delighted. I was rehired time and time again and have shot their portraits for years from only the Glasgow Office at the start to Glasgow and Edinburgh and now Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Like many things in life, being open and honest, will not only help you feel better, but it’ll also make the situation that you’re in more comfortable.
Let us know what tips you have for making the experience of having a photo shoot that bit more enjoyable.
If you have a funny anecdote you'd be happy to share, let us know.
Leave any comments below and of course please share this Blog - thank you.
If you need Headshots of you, or your staff, contact Guy on 0774 8046102 or email [email protected]
And of course a huge thank-you to Jeffrey for not only taking time out of his busy schedule to chat over the ideas contained here, but also to spend time writing down tips and thoughts and then discuss editing etc. A very kind gesture. Contact Jeffrey for Sports and Performance expertise via firstname.lastname@example.org, 07860662905 or via his website Jeffrey Webster: Performance Agency.