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5 Tips On How Therapists Can Be More Photogenic – From A Former Model

Therapists are more than the face of their business, they are their business. For most private practices, the bulk of the income comes from face-to-face services completely dependent on the relationship between client and clinician.

You’re not going over to people’s houses and unclogging the toilet, you aren’t typing numbers into a calculator doing someone’s taxes, you aren’t delivering someone’s food to their front door – you are asking someone to be completely real and vulnerable with you. You are letting them know that you’ll meet them where they are, in what might be the darkest parts of the darkest places they’ve ever been.

Don’t you think they should see a good photo of you before calling?

Part of what makes a photograph of you a good photograph is how you show up in that photo. The ideal photo of you shows you for who you truly are. That authenticity is what I call being photogenic.

But how do you get there? How can you be more photogenic?

This post is dedicated to all the therapists out there who say, “But I’m not photogenic!” or “But I always look terrible in photos!”  Dedicated to all the therapists who delay their photoshoots because they aren’t ready yet or are hiding behind a photo that is from 5 years ago because they can’t suffer through it again.

Because although you may feel like you aren’t photogenic now, it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Being Photogenic Is A Learned Skill

As a child, I was super introverted and super shy. I was the one that would refuse to be in group photos because I didn’t like the way I looked on camera and I simply didn’t know what to do either. Like what direction should I look in? What do I do with my face? My arms? Be silly or serious? Does this dress look ok on me?

As a result, the rare times that a photo was snapped, I used to do really weird things with my face. Not intentionally, but like my upper and lower lip would somehow curl in opposite directions and the worst hair days would always happen to be when a camera was around.

Portuguese photographer Andre Brito and a larger than lifesize print featuring me, Kat Love.

Despite my past, in 2002, I started modeling professionally. I focused mostly on modeling for art and along the way I learned a few things including something that I now know to be true:

Looking “good” on camera is possible for anyone! No one is born photogenic, I’m proof that it’s a learned skill. Being photogenic is a skill you’ll be able to build in order to sit for your next professional photo with ease. A photo that you’ll then be able to use on your therapist website and beyond.

5 Tips For Becoming More Photogenic From Kat Love, Former Professional Model

1. Practice

Take selfies like a 13 year old who just discovered instagram. You don’t have to post the images anywhere but it’s necessary that you look at the photos and observe yourself. Once you’ve practiced with selfies for a while, start asking friends or family members to take pictures of you.

Again, simply look at the photos, pick your favorite ones and try and take mental notes about why they are your favorites. Is it the lighting? Is it your expression? Something else? This is tip #1 because:

Self awareness is the single most important key to being photogenic.

Self awareness is what allows you to express what you wish to express when you want to express it and in the way that you wish it to be expressed.

2. Build Confidence

This can only really come from practice. No amount of makeup, wardrobe, or awesome lighting is going to get you to be confident on camera.

If you are someone that might draw their shoulders up to their earlobes with tension or make those really awkward tight-lipped smiles because inside you’re freaking out about having your picture taken, then you may need to practice more.

In general, having a relaxed, confidence in your approach to getting your photo taken will create better photos. Allow yourself the grace of building this confidence over time.

3. Love

When you gaze through the lens, what are you thinking about? It’s stupid but some of looking photogenic is being in the right mindset in the moment your picture is taken. Unless you are a highly trained actor, you can’t always mask what you are thinking about in that moment.

A useful mind exercise to practice is to think of your favorite client. Perhaps imagine that your photographer is your favorite client or that they are near and that you’re having a light-hearted moment with them.

If that’s too far of a stretch, you could also think of someone you love. It could be a best friend, partner, or family member.

Having a bank of warm fuzzies to have in mind can help you emote your love and passion outwards. Emotions can be visible so make sure you visibly are the good ones.

4. Be You

A lot of articles about “being more photogenic” will tell you that you should figure out the most flattering colors to wear, figure out “your angles”, and direct you on how to do photo-appropriate makeup.

But really, just be yourself.

If blue looks great on you but you’d never, ever wear blue in real life, don’t wear it for a shoot. You need to feel like yourself, not like you are in a costume!

It’s worth it to think about what is authentically you and how it might photograph well or not but getting obsessed, stressed, and not showing up as you is not recommended. Luckily, all that practice and confidence building you’ll be doing will help with building your photo-identity. Look at all those practice pictures you’ll be taking and also evaluate when you look the most you.

5. Find An Excellent Photographer

All of the tips so far are things that you can and should do, but what most people don’t realize that the chemistry that you have with a photographer in combination with the photographer’s technical and social skills can make or break a photo.

Even though I recommend practicing, you shouldn’t spend hours upon hours memorizing a pose routine.

Since most people rarely get professional photos of themselves taken, many don’t realize how beneficial it is to work with an excellent photographer. Here are some of the perks of working with an experienced professional:

  • They will find the best light. The kind of light that is used in a portrait can change everything. A great photographer will know how to use light as an aspect of the visual communication that works with you.
  • They will guide you. Guess who’s going to see if you’re doing that weird wide open eyed thing again? Your photographer. It’s their job to say, “hey, look at this last photo, it seems like you’re holding your eyes more open than you do when we’re just talking and joking around. So let’s try just talking for minute or two and see what happens.” A good photographer will let you know what’s up during the shoot so that you can change course then and there vs. getting the photos back and being like, “what the hell, why didn’t they tell me I had spinach in my teeth?”
  • They will help bring out the best version of you. Something that good portrait photographers are always working on is their ability to connect with people. A portrait photographer is not just a technician who has some fancy camera and knows how to click the button. They are people people. Highly intuitive. And have the ability to bring people out of their shell and help them relax.
  • They will take a lot of images. A photograph that you see on a magazine cover is probably one out of about 100 photos taken to “get the shot.” Most good photographers will take a large number of photos so that you may have a lot to choose from. Slight variations with your expression, angles, lighting, and more can effect the result.

Finding an excellent photographer can help you look your best. The technical aspects are certainly in the photographer’s hands but a great photographer goes beyond just the technical and helps guide and relax you so that you show up as your best self.

A Great Photo Can Transform Your Online Presence

From your website to your psychology today profile, having a great photo of yourself can transform your online presence.

Not only can the photo help you look like the professional that you are, it can also give a huge boost in your confidence in your online identity. Feeling awesome about how you present online will impact how you approach building it out further.

There is nothing quite like portrait photo shame to get you down and hold you back. Having a photo of yourself that you are truly proud of can make all the difference in how you proceed with your marketing.

Let me know what you think. Have these tips helped inspire you to work towards being the best you on camera? Email me your results. Would love to see how your newfound photogenicness comes through in your photos.

About Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! I'm the founder and lead designer here at Empathysites. Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with creating their websites. I write on topics like website design, strategy, and turning website visitors into clients. Reach out anytime if you'd like to say hi. Pronouns: they/them/their