Tips for Family Members Who Hate Being Photographed

May 02, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Tips for Family Members Who Hate Being Photographed | Photos by CherylPhotos by Cheryl - Tips for Family Members Who Hate Being Photographed

Are you the odd duck in your family in that you can't stand the idea of being captured on film? Turns out, you're not alone. About 10-20% of the people I've photographed in my 20 years of being a professional photographer are camera-shy and always hesitant to have their photos taken. Most of them know that a photoshoot to celebrate a milestone is a good idea, but they're not overly thrilled by it. 

It doesn't matter how old you are or may be, some people can't stand how they look once their photo has been taken. What if I told you that it's okay to feel this way and still be captured on film in a way that makes you shine? A lot of these tips are going to involve some real deep thinking about perception, judgment, and your own ideas and thoughts. Let's get a little reflective together before I go over some tips on how to start enjoying being photographed. 

First, the Why of It All

Did you know that there's a psychological reason why some people hate being photographed? It's called confirmation bias, and with it comes a strange extra that's called the mere-exposure effect (or the familiarity principle). In layman's terms, confirmation bias is a habit of recalling information in a way that supports your own beliefs and values. The mere-exposure effect that comes alongside this bias is how we develop our preferences; they come about in ourselves due to a sense of familiarity. 

This bias is basically why you keep insisting that no matter how you look on camera, you'll always turn out ugly or awkward, thereby creating an unflattering image of yourself. You're the most familiar with your certain preferences, and for some people they prefer to not be photographed.

Some other valid reasons why someone would hate having their photo taken (especially now):

  • Their self-confidence is low. 
  • They have put on Covid weight. 
  • They haven’t had a great photo taken of them, so they think they are not photogenic. 
  • We live in a society where only the best is shared, adding to the weight on their shoulders.

So, having said all of that, you may be thinking "Cheryl, why are you talking about this at all?" It's because as a professional photographer I care about everyone I photograph and have photographed in my career. I want everyone to feel comfortable in front of a camera, even if it means a little more work than usual. 

Now, the tips…

1. Know What the Expectations Are

This step is key to having a successful time at your photoshoot, no matter how camera shy or awkward you feel. The expectations you should inquire about with me include:

  • How long the photoshoot is going to be
  • Whether they'll be in all of the photos, or just some
  • If there will be time to chill out a little bit in between shots

The more questions you ask me, the more I can guarantee to you that the photoshoot will go smoothly for everyone involved.

2. Get to Know Your Photographer

Whether you're a selfie fanatic or you shy away from the lens, getting to know me as your photographer is a given to ensuring everyone is comfortable all the while.  I would much rather know that you are hesitant about being photographed than not know at all, always. By letting me in on this information, I can then work closer with you to figure out how best we can go ahead with the session—it's not an uncommon task for me to do this at all.

3. Allow Me to Use My Personal Approach

Here's what I usually do for camera-shy people: 

  • I'll typically speak to these family members and try to normalize the situation for them. 
  • I have a guide that I send out with lots of tips and tricks for the entire family. Reading this can perhaps help you best understand the significance of being present in the photoshoot even if you don't want to be. 
  • When we are shooting, I talk a lot. I do this on purpose. I can start telling a story to families and this helps them to forget about what is really going on. 
  • I ask them a lot of questions. 
  • I reassure them that they are beautiful. 
  • Lastly, I help to place them in the photo where some of their more "self-conscious" features are less obvious.

3. Help out the camera-shy family members (if you're less so)

For those who want to help out their more camera-shy family members, here are some ideas. You can help them by telling jokes, interacting with each other, and encouraging the family member(s) in question. The beauty of a photoshoot is that not every picture warrants an exact glance into the camera lens. Not every photo has to be posed. If Dad is self-conscious, then maybe he can play with the child for a few minutes. I will capture those moments. And of course, tickling someone behind their back works wonders.

Need some help with your photoshoot?

Photographing families and managing both groups and even the most camera-shy people are some of my specialties as a professional. If you've got a big milestone coming up or you'd like to get through an upcoming photoshoot with ease and a few smiles you can be happy with, give me a call and let's see what we can do together.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Photos by Cheryl and a clickable link back to this page.


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