Body Image, Photography, and the Holidays
The holidays are such a fun time to be a photographer because your clients are working on creating holiday cards and gifts for loved ones. This season is also a time where our clients, especially women, feel the pressure to be perfect. If you’re a portrait photographer, you have had at least one client ask you “can you make me look skinny?” This is why I truly believe that it is our job as photographers to ensure our clients trust us to make them feel beautiful inside and out.
Today, so many of us are taught that we need to “fix” the way we look with consumer items like makeup, diet plans, and surgery. It’s hard for people to believe they are beautiful when they are faced with such unattainable images of beauty in the media, in print and on social platforms. This is why photography can be so incredibly empowering and therapeutic for people with body image issues.
Regardless of what type of photography you are shooting, I think it’s important to understand the things that make your clients insecure and self-conscious. You must get in the mindset of your specific client because everyone is their own harshest critic. It is the job of the photographer to minimize insecurities and bring out the client’s confidence. I have all my boudoir and women’s portraiture clients fill out a questionnaire that asks them to specify the things that they are insecure about, as well as the things that they love most. For some women, they love their curves, while others wish for me to de-emphasize them. All of this can be accomplished with the right posing and lighting techniques. Knowing what your client wants is key to opening their eyes to see their own beauty.
The greatest accomplishment is being able to show a client how gorgeous and amazing they are! Almost all of my female clients start their session feeling a little self conscious and once they get to see the results, they not only start to view themselves as beautiful, but their inner confidence also starts to shine. This is why I highly recommend showing your clients some in camera shots at the beginning of their session. It makes a huge difference in how relaxed they are for their sessions and this makes your job as the photographer much easier!
You’ve probably also heard some of your clients make comments about working your Photoshop magic on them. When I hear this, I am honest about my process and I hope that you will be too. My policy is that I never Photoshop boudoir client bodies. I never change the shape of them and I never use liquify to make them skinnier, etc. I believe that it’s my job to make my clients feel beautiful in the body that they were given. I believe in self-acceptance and self-love. We will never accomplish this if we change the way a client is “built.” We see enough of this in the mainstream media.
I do however believe in using great actions and Photoshop tools to enhance natural beauty! I like to use the Luxe Lens skin tone actions for correcting color reflection that happens when photographing clients next to certain backgrounds (ex. green trees, red wallpaper). I can easily remove green reflection, tone down red skin, or make a color pop using these great actions. They also have an action set called model retouching that will help boost your subject’s features: Make them blush, soften or bold their lip color, and enhance their eyes. The Luxe Lens finishing touches action set has an action that allows you to sharpen your subjects beautiful details (I especially love using this on eyes!).
I let my clients know that I will only ever enhance their natural beauty and take away and minimize things that are impermanent. My clients don’t have to worry about those unwanted blemishes or bruises showing up in their images. I also like to use a little skin smoothing when I edit because sometimes certain lighting can over emphasize details, like wrinkles and cellulite. And yes, there is also an action for this in The Luxe Lens model retouch set!
With all that being said, if after my clients receive their images and they would still like some additional retouching, I am willing to oblige and sometimes at an added cost to them. I must admit that this is a very rare occurrence because once my clients see their images, they start to see themselves through my eyes. I see all of my clients as beautiful and I know that I have the incredible gift of being able to show them that.
It’s important to remind your clients that photographs aren’t just about helping them to see themselves as beautiful. They also help clients rediscover and remember who they are and who they were. Photography is about creating memories and whether clients choose to do this for themselves or for the people they love, what photographers do is so important.