Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?

Successful portraits can only be obtained when the model has a natural charm and photogenicity. Otherwise, the camera’s appearance will not look impressive in the photo. In this article, we’ll discuss photogenicity and why it is essential in photography.

You will read what photogenicity is and how to capture beautifully even a person who does not like to take pictures. After all, for an image to be of high quality and spectacular, it is worth considering only a few straightforward rules well known to all professional photographers.

When talking about photogenicity, the first phrases that come to mind are:

  • I have a lot of photographs; only they don’t like me.
  • I am not photogenic.
  • I have a problem with photogenicity.
  • I am deficient in pictures.

Many people try to scare the photographer with such remarks. What for? An experienced photographer saw many faces: more or less attractive, more or less textured, etc. He knows a lot about photogenicity, and believe me; it is by no means subjective.

Photogenicity is a subjective assessment of external data favorable for display on a movie screen or photography.

Louis Delluc

We see that at the root of the definition is subjectivity, beyond which nothing and no one is interested (even after a century). But there are psychological and spiritual aspects, a sense of beauty, and an emotional state in the frame.


The need to talk about this topic in detail within the blog’s framework has ripened for a long time. Today I decided to fill this gap and talk about photogenicity, not comparing it with a myth but denoting a simple problem that can (and should) be solved to appear attractive in front of the camera.

Photogenicity Like a Gene

Fans of poking around in words found out that photogenicity consists of “photo” and “gene” and boldly summed up: “Photogenicity is a gene that is responsible for the beauty, attractiveness, and uniqueness in a person’s appearance.” πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰

This definition is not entirely correct. It is appropriate to say about innate data, but not about a gene that can do everything.

In addition, the external beauty of a person is very conditional and subjective, fluctuates from the era and fashion trends (invented by a third party). Still, I already talked about this once; I will not repeat myself. We just boldly read about beauty in a portrait.

And we will continue.

Photogenicity is a complex and solvable problem.

For the subsequent detailed analysis, let’s designate the components of human photogenicity:

  • Natural base.
  • Photographer skills.
  • The experience of dialogue with the camera.

Photogenicity and Natural Data (Photo) of A Person

Speaking about congenital features, it is worth remembering that everyone is unique; trying on masks and measuring them for compliance with the era’s standard is a waste of time. Any advice about the width of a smile, head tilt, angle of view is a heresy that feeds the conveyor and shows you by anyone but not by yourself.

Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?

It will turn out well in the photo simply. All you need is to identify your strengths and be aware of the presence of shortcomings (but not focus your attention on them).

Before you need to get into the field of view of the camera, spend the evening in front of the mirror and consider:

Asymmetrical facial features. Oddly enough, a valuable feature of our nature. As a rule, one profile we have is friendly and pleasant, with smooth lines and neat volume. The second is the rudest, and it is convenient when we are working on a dramatic shot or plunging into a psychological portrait.

In the case of pronounced asymmetry, you should rely on the skill of the photographer.

Proportions. We all remember the golden ratio of the face and makeup artists who rule us under this standard. In the evening, sitting at the mirror, find out how substantial your deviations from the template are (your face is round, or it tends to be an oval) and whether this is bad for the future shot.

Lip-to-eye ratios are good, but if you are not a fashion model, it is better to forget about templates and focus on your natural beauty.

Do not be afraid of excessive rudeness in the lines of your face. Yes, we ​​like harmonious and smooth curves in life, but in photography, it’s the opposite. The rougher and sharper the curves, the more interesting the work with light and the more photogenic the person is.

There is a joke in creative circles:

A beautiful person in life and a beautiful person in photography are two different people.

Texture. You need to know the characteristics of your skin: pores, folds, deep wrinkles, traces of injuries (scars), etc. Excessive roughness of the skin is appropriate for men and gives charm, masculinity. Still, it is not always beneficial for women, especially when the purpose of photography is to soften age.

Of course, at the stage of retouching, you can make a blank sheet of a face and appear as a different person, but this is temporary and over the years will cause rejection, since in the photo it is not you, but a distant object.

In addition, the place of texture in photography (and in other types of fine art) has not changed; it is still food for the eyes.

Mimicry. How emotional are you outwardly? And internally? Study this issue and take the evening on the eve of shooting, or better – even before looking for a photographer.

Think about joy and sadness, complicated and straightforward. Read, listen to music, or talk to another person. Understand yourself, identify the emotions that are most pronounced and honest in you.

The future shot should be built on a robust emotional basis, so you should not choose a dramatic story if you have been endowed with a beautiful, sincere smile from childhood.

Regarding natural data (photo), it is worth remembering that photogenicity is a symbiosis of intrinsic merits and demerits. There are no ugly people; there are only those who do not know themselves.

Photogenicity and Photographer Skills

I’ll tell you a little story. One cold winter day, a man entered the studio. An aged man, dense with a double chin and a round face. Snub-nosed, with an uneven bald spot on the head, surrounded by sparse hairs.

The under-eyes, down to the gram was telling about the drink over the years of life, and the barely noticeable scar, about the event, experienced. The asymmetry of the face is such that it can be seen with the naked eye.

Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?
Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?

Will the photographer remember being photogenic in such a situation? Maybe. Whether he refuses to work or not is a particular case.

The photographer, who has not lost touch with creativity, will treat the guest to tea and start a conversation. He will ask the man to tell about himself, and he, taking advantage of the moment, will look at the client, evaluate natural data.

From the conversation, it turns out that the guest is a retired military man. The star of the hero will tell about the history of the scar, and the studying gaze will reveal the features of the person being portrayed. It turns out that his face holds the light well, a good texture will emphasize the biography, asymmetry will add coarseness and masculinity, and other acquired flaws are easy to hide with the same light.

Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?
Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?

Evaluating the photographer’s skills in photogenicity, the ability to place accents should be a mandatory clarification. Distract from the “bad” and show the “good.” The skill of the photographer lies in the ability to correct, not remove. Show, not bring to the front.

Knowing of limits? You can say so, but more precisely – the connection with reality. The ability to understand the hero and take from natural data the “set of elements” necessary for the final frame in the personality.

Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?
Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?

Photogenicity and Dialogue

Another component of photogenicity is the ability to present oneself in the frame, certain artistry.

Falling into the focus of the camera, some “pull” smiles, others convulsively recall poses and pictures (seen on the covers or the Internet). In contrast, others strain all the muscles responsible for facial expressions or fall into a stupor.

Lack of photogenicity on the face, although outwardly the person is very handsome. Corresponds to the “template” of the era, personal preferences of society, etc.

In other words, we have 1/3 of photogenicity – natural data. There is another third – an experienced photographer, but the “kit is not complete” and looking at the photo, the usual sounds:

  • I’m not photogenic. I don’t like myself in this picture.
  • There is no point in being upset; it is better to develop photogenicity in yourself further:
  • Learn to be relaxed. In front of strangers, camera, in an unexpected role.
  • Forget the flaw list. Treat them as unique benefits.
  • Remove “paralysis” from the face. Stretch your muscles before taking a photo. Silent lip movement is a favorite exercise that many actors use before entering the frame.

Dealing with your anxiety is just the beginning. Next, you need to get used to the dialogue with the photographer. An experienced master is, to some extent, a psychologist and sees in each hero a share of mystery and unpredictability, which must be understood, felt, and interpreted utilizing photography.

Photogenicity and Dialogue
Photogenicity: What is Photogenicity?

And here, it is appropriate to talk about culture – your understanding, preferences. Read, seen, realized. All this affects the spectrum of the emotional state in the frame, which both the author of the narrative and the subsequent viewer will feel. It is in sensuality that the result of the dialogue on the set lies.

In other words, the dialogue with the camera must be lived through. Breathe, communicate, give something inner, and then you will get material realization, for which you turned to the photographer.

Life in the frame is not a shooting day, but that fraction of a second that freezes in a photograph. The last third of photogenicity lies in the ability for her to work hard.

You may also like to read: How to become photogenic?


Photogenicity is a subjective assessment of a person’s external and internal qualities, contributing to the harmonious transfer of appearance using photography. Partly dependent on natural data, but quickly corrected and rapidly evolving.

Are all people photogenic? Yes, absolutely. But provided that the person agrees to trust, the photographer knows (or seeks to know) himself and has long “stepped on the throat of his own I.”

Photogenicity helps to capture the subtle moment when the inner world of a person meets external data and settles in the photograph, in the form of the beauty of the depicted hero, personality.

First, try to find a common language with the model. In no case should you allow the person you are photographing to be in a state of tension? After all, there can be no question of any photogenicity. Try to get your model to talk. After all, a photographer should be a good master of photography and a diplomat who can find a common language with everyone.

Secondly, a lot depends on the kind of equipment the master uses in the successful shooting of portraits. Recommendations on the professional selection and use of a particular technique can be obtained at my online courses of photography, where practicing teachers give numerous examples from their own experience and practice.

Thirdly, when you come to the photo studio in advance, be sure to adjust the light properly because lighting (daylight or artificial) plays almost a key role in shooting in the studio or open space.

And most importantly, every photographer must be sure that ugly and not quite photogenic people do not exist by default. Convinced of this statement, he will undoubtedly be able to create good photo portraits, even of models with a somewhat problematic appearance.

Peace to all, and I will keep passing light on the places of photographic battles.

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