I just finished the second of two shoots that should have been so easy. One was a high school senior and the other was a mom of a high school senior. Both ladies were very attractive. Their skin was smooth, their hair was styled, they clothes fit well and were in fashion. Both were smiling, arrived on time, and were very pleasant. We discussed their photographic needs, I positioned the lights, added the colored gels, and took the light meter readings. Then...I moved to the camera and things changed.
As I was adjusting the proper settings, I noticed my subjects stopped talking. They commented the idea of being photographed brought them a great deal of anxiety. One had been told she was ugly in a photo--the picture was bad-- and needed to be redone-- without the goofy grin. See had been 6 years old. The other had been told to embrace her bad qualities because pride is a sin. I have been photographing people for over 30 years and I have heard this before. Some people are looking for compliments, some reassurance, but some are near the edge of the cliff and really need support.
I want to impress two things today.
So if your husband's passport is less than flattering or your second-grader has their school image with a silly grin, don't tell them they ruined the photo or the picture is ugly. That hurts and you missed the point. As a photographic artist I focus on telling a story in the photo. Sometimes that is edgy, raw, and bold. It may be full of light, soft, and delicate. It may be just silly. Either way, it is beautiful.