Is Being Photogenic a Gift or a Skill?

Let’s face it – we are all sometimes nervous in front of a camera. That’s why we tend to look worse in the photo than we do in real life. On the other side, we have those people that aren’t especially beautiful but their photos speak a vastly different story. How are they doing it, then? Well, being photogenic is a combination of gift and skill, and on the brighter side, it can be exercised and brought to perfection. There’s still hope for you non-photogenic people!

Before we tell you how you can practice your photogenic skills, let’s delve deeper into what it means to be photogenic.

What Does Photogenic Mean?

Photogenic Mean

We use this word almost every day in our lives and the meaning of this word is quite simple – looking good in pictures. However, this doesn’t always mean that this photogenic person is the prettiest person on the planet. How many times you’ve seen a pretty girl in real life, with subpar photos on her Instagram or Facebook account? Unfortunately for her, she isn’t photogenic but it’s the real beauty that matters, right?

On the other side, we have quite the opposite case. Some people aren’t really pretty and their photos are absolutely stunning. If you don’t look good in photos, you don’t have to think that you’re ugly in real life, as it’s normal. In fact, very few people can be called ugly and photos represent only a fraction of your life, time-wise. When we snap a photo, it’s how we look in that exact second or two, and as such, photos aren’t a real representative of your real-life look. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t.

Being photogenic depends on many factors, the first is body symmetry. You know that we aren’t symmetrical and that the human body, in general, isn’t symmetrical. Take a look at your arms, for example. Your left arm is probably smaller than your right or vice versa. Even our faces aren’t symmetrical and that’s why you look better from the right or left side. If you don’t look as good when shot from a profile, you’ll probably have better photos from the front. And some will still say that you’re photogenic. Technically, yes – until you take a photo from the side.

Can You Be Born Photogenic?

Born Photogenic

Can a person be born photogenic, without having a clue how to pose for photos? Of course, and that’s the magic of being photogenic. Being photogenic can definitely be a gift but in most cases, it’s a matter of skill and knowledge. Naturally, people with highly angular faces look good in pictures. These include square jaw, sharp cheekbones, etc. These shapes capture light very well, and as such, the subjects look naturally better, without having to know a thing about posing. When we take a look at the round faces, the situation is quite different, as round shapes reflect the light in all directions.

Needless to say that people with round faces can also be photogenic but those with square faces will have a slight edge. The great thing is that many professional models have round faces and still manage to look jaw-dropping. We’re talking about both male and female models. Are they naturally photogenic, then? Well, we really don’t know and thinking about that is a waste of time. The important thing is that they ARE photogenic now and that tells us that you (yes, you!) can become photogenic with enough practice.

Related: 3 Reasons Why You Look Better In The Mirror Than In Pictures

6 Tips on How to Be More Photogenic | Look Better in Pictures

Here’s an interesting fact for you. Women are naturally more photogenic than men, although they have rounder and softer facial features than men. This is because of practice since women are more aligned towards taking photos of themselves than men. Oh, and the makeup plays a huge role, which is important to mention. But, how can you, regardless of sex and age, become more photogenic? Here are some tips:

1. Bring Your Best-Looking Body Parts to the Front

Best-Looking Body Parts

The general rule is that the body part that’s closest to the camera will look the biggest. Women, for example, tend to place their head close to the camera and some of them will do that with other body parts… you can guess which. Men sometimes like to put their arms or chest close to the camera, if they want to show off their muscles.

Either way, you need to bring those parts that you think are beautiful close to the camera to look prettier and more photogenic. If you have huge arms, you can try different variations. For example, you can cross your arms and look in the distance but don’t forget to lean back a bit, to bring the arms in front.

2. Smile More

Smile More

Smiling is the best thing you can do to be more photogenic. We aren’t talking about a fake smile as it can lead to some uncomfortable and awkward photos. Have your photographer make you laugh about something and then take the photo when you’re laughing. It may not always be great but odds are pretty good. People tend to like this kind of pictures as they invoke happy emotions in a person that looks at them.

Don’t be afraid to smile. We all look better when smiling, trust me!

3. Sit Down, Instead of Standing

Sit Down

If you aren’t photogenic, try to sit down instead of standing. When standing, that’s your most vulnerable position for photos. You feel awkward, stiff, and you don’t know what to do with your arms, legs, hips, etc. Do I cross my arms or legs? Do I lean a little bit? If these questions bother you, simply stop taking photos while standing. Instead, sit on your chair and relax.

This way, you won’t have any problem positioning your hands or feet. You can rest your hands on the arm of the chair or cross your hands on the table. This trick works very well, especially for those that are shy in front of a camera and you should definitely give it a go.

4. Think About Camera Angle

Camera Angle

Think about camera angle for a second. The camera angle plays a huge role in your photo quality and as such, it can help you be more confident around the camera, thus increasing your posing skills. Many times you’ve seen that people take photos from various angles, and the angle in which the camera is above you works great for many people. This way, your face is in the center and body is less accentuated. You can practice this angle if you, for some reason, don’t want to show your body.

Shooting from the side is great if have a great haircut that needs to be seen or for example, if you simply look good that way. Having a slightly larger nose isn’t going to make you photogenic from this angle – talking from my first-hand experience! After all, you’ll need to experiment a lot and see what works best for you but these are some general tips.

5. Choose a Proper Background


You probably won’t believe me, but the right background can vastly improve your photo in all aspects. If you think you aren’t photogenic, try changing your location. Many of us don’t look too beautiful using artificial lighting in our homes. But, you can always visit our mother nature and take some shots there. You might look better in front of a colorful landscape, beautiful tree or a vast meadow during the sunset or sunrise. Possibilities are endless, you just need to get out and experiment.

6. Get Some Feedback

Get Some Feedback

Do you want to know if you’re photogenic or not? Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Sometimes, you think that your photos are excellent, but it’s always better to ask someone else for an opinion. If you work with a professional photographer, he might be able to tell you if you’re photogenic or not. Value his honesty. If you aren’t photogenic enough, practice until you become photogenic.

Another way to get some feedback is by using Photofeeler tool. This tool will give you objective feedback on your photos and it values them by various parameters. It’s free and will let you test your photos immediately. It’s not as reliable as a professional photographer but hey, you should start from somewhere!

I also suggest reading our 10 tips on how to take a good selfie if you are not photogenic.

As mentioned, being photogenic is a combination of genetics and skill, and it’s very hard to determine if someone is photogenic until he stands in front of the camera. The great thing about being photogenic is that you can practice and make great results, despite your look. However, it’s a long-lasting process and it requires constant practice for great results. Now that you know a bit more about this, you can use some of our advice and start taking a photo of yourself.

It’s okay to not be photogenic as most of us aren’t born with that gift. Don’t feel bad, though. Experiment with camera angles, background, lighting, and photography gear, and you’ll learn how to be photogenic.

Related: Basic Tips For Taking Good Photographs

Is Being Photogenic a Gift or a Skill?

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