A client recently sent me a message that said, “I normally look terrified in photos.  I have no idea what you did to get me to smile and look natural.” While I’ll take the compliment, the face is, I didn’t really “do” anything, except make sure she felt relaxed and at ease.

Here’s the truth.  Being “photogenic” is a myth. There is only “comfortable” and “uncomfortable” in front of the camera. In most cases when someone thinks about getting in front of the camera, they imagine it will fall into the “uncomfortable” category. Having a studio portrait taken is pretty uncommon these days – outside of perhaps a few family and school portraits, likely the only other times you’ve sat for a photo are senior/graduation or wedding/engagement. And those events can be full of stress and hustle, which isn’t very conducive to “comfortable”.

It is 100% normal and okay to be nervous and to worry you’ll end up with stiff, awkward photos featuring fake smiles and weird poses.  But what if you could have a portrait session where you felt calm and comfortable, no rushing or pressure, just a fun, relaxed day where you get to be yourself? Read on, it’s easier than you think!

So what are “the tricks” to get someone to look natural in photos?


We will have been planning your portrait session before you ever come to the studio.

You and I will talk and exchange emails before the day of your portrait session.  I’ll know what vibe you are going for and what kind of wardrobe you’ll be bringing. My makeup artist will know what you want and will be ready to pamper you as soon you as you arrive.  So you’ll know what we’re doing, what you’re wearing and that you’ll be taken care of by the whole team. 

Pam Butler of The Beauty Patrol doing Jessica's makeup for her portrait session with Louisville Portrait photographer Ben Marcum

You don’t have to perform.

I don’t expect you to step in front of my camera and start posing like you’ve been doing it for the past 40 years.  I have studied posing so you don’t have to!  I will coach and guide you the entire time, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll stop thinking about being on camera! 

What about expression?

You don’t have to perform with your expression either.  Unlike your grade school photos, I will not say “Ok, now smile!”.  As you relax and get into the groove, your expressions will take care of themselves – real smiles, genuine laughs, natural looks. 

It is not your job to be photogenic.  It is my job as your photographer to connect with you and capture the very best you.   

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