"I HATE having my photo taken"

Posted in News on 31 October 2017 
By Nick Havas, Head of Film and Photography


"I hope I don't break your camera."

“I may damage your lens.”

“I hope you are good at Photoshop.”

I’ve heard them all so many times and I often ask myself why? Occasionally I find myself explaining that “I’m only trying to take your picture, I’m not stealing your soul.” Although there are some tribes in South America that indeed do believe that when a picture is taken of them their soul is taken away with it. Best ask permission before you take that picture.

So why is it that most of us still hate having our photo taken or find the experience uncomfortable? After all, we live in an age where we are taking thousands of pictures of ourselves every day on our phones. You’d think it would seem commonplace by now and with all those selfies you’d think we’d know what we look like and decided to feel ok about it.

I’m only trying to take your picture, I’m not stealing your soul.

An art director friend said to me the other day: “Oh I commissioned so and so last week – but only to take some headshots for a corporate client.” “You mean portraits” I replied, and described to him the difference and challenges of taking pictures of people that ‘hate having their picture taken’ against working with professional models that exude confidence and strike a new (and ultimately usable) pose with every click of the shutter.

So for me, the challenge of shooting ‘non-models’ (which I relish by the way), is not only to try to get a great portrait but to make a connection with people, put them at their ease and for us both to have fun. I especially love it when some say with surprise that they actually really enjoyed the experience AND (with great surprise) that they really like the picture of themselves.

I was asked if I had any tips for ‘the haters’.

Ultimately, working with ‘the haters’ presents an opportunity to give someone a big lift and maybe even make their day. I feel quite lucky to have the chance to do that.

So, I was asked if I had any tips for ‘the haters’. It made me think about a conversation I had with a friend who is a brilliant wedding photographer and I was saying how lucky he was because he gets to take pictures of people when they have made a huge effort to look their very best; wedding gowns, morning suits, haircuts, make-up etc. So my top tips would be to make an effort to come into the room knowing that you are looking your very best – and feeling good about it. Get a haircut, do your makeup, wear your favourite suit/dress/top/tie etc. Do a bit of preening in the mirror before you come in. And remember, you want the exact same thing as the photographer – a great picture of YOU.


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