By Karina Louise
I realize that this topic is a bit sensitive. But as a portrait photographer, it is my job to regularly interact with this notion of beauty. It’s the main goal of my work- to get beautiful natural pictures of people that they are proud to put up on their online dating profiles. My clients and I talk about beauty regularly and every day I see how it affects people, especially women.
The reason this is such an important thing to actively explore is because it can negatively affect your search for love. If you don’t put up good photos on your profile you are 3 times less likely to be contacted by potential matches. If you don’t get good photos, you won’t put them up on your profile. If you don’t feel comfortable about the way you look, you won’t get good photos. So how does one get comfortable enough to get good photos so they can find love online? Everyone has their own road, but here are a few important things to remember.
Most people don’t feel photogenic.
When I became a San Francisco photographer I didn’t know what was in store for me. I had just finished a long season of travel, completed a big move and made the decision to work in the Bay Area. I had never been much for taking pictures of landscapes and realized that I had a passion for the natural glow of human beings. I absolutely adore that individual spark that we all possess and that, once tapped into, can not only light up a photo-shoot, but change someone’s life.
As my work developed I found myself continually taking pictures of clients who considered themselves un-photogenic. I was attracting people who were just like me. We were all perfectly well- adjusted and outgoing in our regular lives but when it came to the camera, we would clam up. Others I was working with were embarrassed about online dating and needed great pictures to counterbalance their already insecure feeling about searching for love online.
But no matter how or why they came to me, each shoot ended up being as individual as the person who had hired me. They appreciated the fact that they weren’t alone and together we started to re-define what photogenic means and how we can all experience it in our own way. Just knowing that so many other people are also insecure can help give us confidence. It is good to know that we are not alone.
We must define beauty for ourselves.
As women, we get the message, “You are supposed to be attractive.” The media is clear about this. But while this is understood, many are left feeling like the standard they are being held to is both confining and unrealistic.
Shouldn’t beauty be defined on an individual basis instead of collectively?
As a photographer I understand the power of Photoshop and our society’s sometimes subconscious desire to see things in a “perfect light”. But I find myself left to wonder:
Why are we comparing our first thing in the morning version of ourselves with a pixel perfect photo-shopped version of others?
Over the years I have had many female clients make an appointment for a shoot. They are super excited. And then, a few days before the shoot, I get a message saying that they want to postpone for a month or so. They say that they are feeling too busy, too tired or even too fat and know they won’t be happy with the photos. I feel sad when I hear this because I know the photo session could have actually helped them feel much better about themselves.
And in the end, that is the point of my work- helping people to feel good about themselves so they can find love. It’s not something you can achieve by using the right cosmetics or through Photoshopping away your wrinkles; it is something that comes from the inside out. When people are not afraid to be themselves their unique essence shines through. This love from the inside reflects and attracts love on the outside. I believe that is what real beauty is all about.