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  • Writer's pictureAlan Bell

‘I’m Not Photogenic' is a Myth: How the Right Headshot Photographer Makes All the Difference

Updated: Apr 19

Image going back to the Holywood Greats era when the word "Photogenic" was first used to describe how someone looked on screen.

I had an epiphany last week during a headshot photography session.

Yet another client came into our Pixel Roses studio for a professional headshot for Linkedin and as they walked through the door they were apologising for not being "photogenic". This was the third apology from a customer that week, and it was only Tuesday!

It's astonishing how often we hear from clients:

  • "I've never had a good photo taken."

  • "I'm not sure how to pose or smile genuinely."

  • "I dislike my [insert perceived flaw]."

  • "I always look too serious in photos."

  • "I prefer candid shots where I'm unaware of the camera."

An image of a male client wearing a suit jacket and shirt but taken from an unflattering angle.
Definitely the wrong angle!

Hearing these concerns is a call to action for us at Pixel Roses. We see it as an opportunity to change perceptions and elevate our client's self-esteem in a way that tackles the ‘I’m Not Photogenic’ myth head on. However, where does the term Photogenic come from, and how has it become associated with such a negative view of oneself and our ability to look good in photos?

According to The word photogenic describes looking attractive in photographs. If you are photogenic there are few, if any, terrible pictures of you out there.


The word photogenic originally meant "produced or caused by light," and was first used to mean "photographing well". Today, it also describes looking good on video or film and is attributed for its use in 1925 by megaproducer Samuel Goldwyn who used the word when talking to journalists to describe an actor. Most Hollywood stars are photogenic, but then, they have armies of wardrobe, hair, and makeup pros, not to mention digital "correction" artists who erase every shadow and blemish.


The Real Issue: A Previous Headshot Photographer

The realization in my epiphany, is that the cause of these self-doubts and the use of the words “I’m not photogenic” is caused by a client’s previous photographer. At its heart is the fact that the photographer failed to create an environment conducive to capturing the client's best self.

This challenge is something that excites us at Pixel Roses where we excel at taking clients on a journey that results in images that look approachable, full of confidence and personality.

What NOT to do When it Comes to Headshots


We’ve Highlighted Several Reasons for these Past Photography Failures:

  • Client Experience is Key: Our focus as photographers is on making clients feel valued and important. They are the most important person in the room. A photographer who has forgotten this will not get the best from their customer.

  • No Barriers: We avoid turning equipment into barriers – something that many inexperienced photographers do (intentionally or not). Instead of hiding behind the camera and lighting gear we prefer to release ourselves from the technology and work alongside our clients. We’ll be in front of the camera with the client more than we are behind it.

  • Technical Expertise: A photographer must know what they are doing technically and work hard to minimize frequent adjustments to equipment. This allows us to focus our attention on the client. If 80% of our time is spent adjusting settings it’s an indication that we need to improve our skills.

  • Guidance on Expression and Posing: We actively coach the human being in front of our camera on posing and facial expressions. We don’t leave clients to figure it out for themselves - something that we’ve seen a lot of supposed professional photographers do.

  • Fun and Rapport: We believe in making every photoshoot an enjoyable experience. Our objective is to engage and build rapport with every customer. Finding out about them and creating a genuine relationship that brings out their best. A customer that is happy will give us genuine smiles that reach the eyes. It’s one of the reasons that we won' ask a customer to smile on command. Stand in front of a mirror and see how hard it is to create a genuine smile on command!

An image of a man in a white T-Shirt with a fake smile looking at the camera.
What happens when you ask a client to "Smile" on demand!

  • Continuous Communication: We engage in constant dialogue to understand and guide our clients, in the process providing feedback that they use to learn and improve the images we create between us. You’d be surprised at just how many photographers are actually not great communicators and cannot connect with their client.

  • Seeing is Believing: Showing real-time images on a large screen (not the back of the camera) helps clients adjust and learn quickly. They can see when their shoulders aren’t level, or their head is too far back, they have flyaway hair or how their expression needs adjusting. Seeing it live encourages them to make changes themselves and become more familiar in what differences their posture makes for example. With this approach the customer’s focus and attention stops being on the ‘scary’ camera and more on how to improve themselves.

  • No Rushing: Photographers that are “on the clock” tend to rush things and put pressure on the client to get it right first time. At Pixel Roses we are much more relaxed and take our time to get a series of great shots that reflect confidence, approachability, and genuine personality. It can take 15 minutes, or it can take an hour. It depends on the client, but what you don’t do is pressure them into looking fake.

A grid of four heashots. The first two are before images as used in passports or visas. The second two are business headshots showing the clietn as they  really are on a day-to-day basis
Before and After Images - from passport to business professional

The Pixel Roses Difference

Client testimonial: "I always thought I wasn't photogenic until I met the team at Pixel Roses. They transformed not just my photos, but how I see myself." – Marco F.

Client testimonial: “My experience at Pixel Roses Studio was amazing! From the moment I waddled in feeling like an “ugly duckling”, till I walked out feeling like a majestic “beautiful swan”. Alan & Mandy made this transformation feel effortless.” – Maja P.

Client testimonial: “I recently had a headshot session with Alan and it was an absolute blast! Alan has a remarkable ability to make the whole experience enjoyable while effortlessly bringing out your best personality for the camera. The result was not just a professional headshot, but a snapshot of my essence on a great day. Highly recommend for a fun session and stunning photos!” - Faten J.

We're selective about our clients because we prioritize quality and a bespoke experience over volume. If you're looking for a quick, cheap shot, we might not be the right fit. But if you value a transformative photography experience, we're here for you.

Discover the Pixel Roses Difference

Contact us to start your journey to a headshot that truly represents you.

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