Have you ever thought about what makes some people photogenic and others less so?
Perhaps this conundrum has never crossed your mind, but it is a subject I’ve been pondering ever since my seventh grade teacher offhandedly told me I was “not very photogenic.“
Crushed, I assumed he meant that I was not pretty. Too bad that it was many years later that I learned that being photogenic actually meant that those people looked especially good in photographs—as in they often look better in photographs than they do in person.
So what is it that shows up in a photograph that we don’t see in person? I believe it is inner light and energy. I also suspect that a photogenic image reflects when the inside of a person matches his or her outside so much, that there is a transparency that radiates beauty in a way that is otherwise impossible.
My eldest daughter happens to be photogenic. Of course as her mother, I think she’s a beautiful girl, but I recognize that her face is rather round and plain compared to her younger sister. Her complexion tends to be pale and her hair color is kind of mousy. Yet, in a photograph, she has a glow that is so vibrant, it’s extraordinary.
On the inside, my eldest daughter happens to be the most autonomous person I know. I’ve never met anyone who is so comfortable in her own skin. From the start, she seems to have known who she is and has abided in that knowing ever since.
I’ve come to believe that when captured in a photograph, her light shines through in a way that cannot be seen with the naked eye. I also sense that there is no filter of doubt—or trying to be anything other than what she is—muddying the lens.
I’ve noticed this in myself, too. The best pictures of me have always been the ones that are spontaneously caught when I am genuinely feeling happy. I’ve also noticed that as the years have gone by, and I have come to be clearer about who I am and trusted that I am safe to share all of me, that I’ve become more photogenic than I was when I was younger—a time when I was more caught up in my image and desire for acceptance.
I have been working on cleaning my inner lens, and the light seems to shine through now with more precision.
Great photographers are obviously aware of this trick. They evoke an inner spirit as they capture an image. Together it is art—dynamic and alive.
So I ask you to reflect upon your own inner state and what you are trying to portray to the world. Do your feelings and ideas about who you are match how you look? Or have you been putting on a mask or building up layers to protect your inner state? What are you trying to put out there? Is it honest? Are you trying to prove something about yourself to others—or yourself?
Next time you find yourself in front of a camera, let your feelings bubble up. Connect authentically with your mood. Perhaps it’s time to let your heart shine with the transparency of your soul.
Happy or sad, angry or anxious, as long as it is authentic—I suspect it will make for an extraordinary image.
Author: Samantha Eddy
Editor: Lieselle Davidson