How to deal with a women's insecurity about her body?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by BradS, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Portrait and wedding photographers: How do you deal with a woman's insecurity or, self consciousness about her body. You know what I'm talking about, how do you get her to relax and not worry about whether her backside looks too big or her tummy isn't flat enough, etc...

    On the technical side, how do you pose and light a beautiful young lady who thinks her her legs are too short and her thighs and gluteus maximus are too big?
     
  2. mark

    mark Member

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    I have no advice what so ever I just thought the title was funny. My answer. The same way you deal with a pissed off rattler, back away slowly and then run like hell.:smile:
     
  3. eric

    eric Member

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    Same here:
    "Do you think I gained weight?"
    "Do these pants make me look ...?"
    "Didn't these shorts look better like a month ago?"
    "Do you think I should cut my hair?"
    There is never an answer to these and others like it. Cause if you answered, there's always "well, why didn't you tell me the shorts are too tight" or "why didn't you tell me my hair was.." or .... uggh.
    But if you were getting paid to take pictures, just start saying, from the beginning "you look great in that outfit" as soon as you see people.
     
  4. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Tell them you'll fix it in photoshop! These self conscious complaints will never end. I've never understood it and never accepted it from them. Everyone is different yet the same so when posing them you ask them into your pose then talk with them for a bit so that they relax into it and make what ever physical adjustments that makes the pose confortable for them. then start working the shot through verbal direction for straightening a line or correcting posture.
    Lighting and camera heigth go a long to solving most unsightly issues. But to explain those here would be really tough. Get a light and a sitter and practice seeing without a camera. Then add a second light to problem solve. Use the first light for direction then the second as an erasure. as you direct the sitter, either move the lights with the adjusting pose or move the sitter in a way to take advantage of the existing light direction.
    Hope this helps but I promise again, " this will always exist" give them the confidence in you to solve the issues then keep them in mind as you work your way through the session but don't allow it to ruin the plan.
     
  5. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Any chance of an article series here on Apug?
     
  6. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    How to deal with a woman't insecurity about her body?? Oy...

    As a woman with a few curves (thanks to two babies). Ok...ok... I may have had a few curves before the babies arrived...

    All I can say is, not easy to deal with! Make a few light hearted jokes, ask her about her day, get her talking about her passions and interests, anything to get her mind off her problem hips, butt, thighs or tummy. If you really make an effort to get to know your subject, they will start to relax, and feel less self concious. (This, I think, is true of anyone you are photographing for a portrait.) I would worry less about the technical side, and more about the relationship you form with the subject, and take your time.

    Failing that... make sure her hips are the farthest thing from the lens! Oh, and diffusion filters, and "glamour" light can be a big help, too!! Too bad they don't make "tinner thighs" filters! :tongue:

    Good luck.
     
  7. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    That would be a lot of fun. I'd really like to do that, but in writing? I think face to face it would be really easy definately in classroom situation I've had no problem talking about and showing how these these simple things work. To write it down needs some real thought. How about a MAYBE!
     
  8. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    As others have said, and this applies to any kind of subject and not just nudes.

    Talk and interact with them, so that their mind is not, six feet away from themselves, looking back at themselves.

    For the same reason that you cannot properly drive a car and talk on the phone at the same times, we cannot be involved in conversation and looking at ourselves with our mind eye at the same time. Our brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

    You want the subject reacting to you and the conversation and not thinking about how big her butt is.

    And keep it fun.


    Michael
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Switch positions

    One of my favorite tricks when shooting a portrait is to have the subject switch positions with me - for most people the view through the finder/on the ground glass is sufficiently different from what they are used to as to get them interested in the process, and to distract them from thinking about how they look.

    Then again, maybe when they see how I appear through the camera, they realize how much better looking they are :D

    This doesn't work, by the way, if your subject is a photographer themselves.

    P.S. this definitely wouldn't apply if I was shooting a nude!
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Suzzane, Thanks for adding your perspective. I was hoping this would not be an all male conversation. Luckily, We were able to keep the whole session fun and light hearted. I kept trying to get her to "extend your torso" and "relax your shoulders". I made a few photos on her front porch just to break the ice and she was just so nervous and self conscious. She went back inside and had a shot of amaretto...OY! Anyway, it went ok. I made every possible technical mistake in the book but, I think we got at least one good one (I hope! :smile:).



    I actually tried this when the 4x5 was out. One look and she shrieked, "You're up-side-down!". I posed and talked her through the process of making a photo of me!

    "After a while, your brain just gets used to it", I said.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2008
  11. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Thanks Thomas. This is the essence of the matter to me. I remember actually saying something like this to her at one point...seemed to work for a little while anyway.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2005
  12. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I'm not an expert on the topic, but one thing I would stress from previous experience: by all means do not present complete proofs when deciding which photo(s) you want to use for a final print. Just show what you think is the bestest of bestest. Otherwise, the badness of the less interesting photos will blur the response from your subject (not that I mean to imply that you're bad :smile: ), and you may end up in a situation where your model wants everything redone.
     
  13. David

    David Member

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    While I can't remember where, I read recently that a portrait is a photograph with something wrong with the mouth. While funny, it does touch on this important idea under discussion. Is it possible that the photograph is the artists' creation and as such is immune from the ravages of the criticism of the one photographed? It all gets more complicated when money is involved but this represents an attitude at least dignifying the work (if well seen and executed) of the photographer.
     
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  15. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Oppositely, what one puts forth as his style, should not be confused with something that is really just a lack of expertise.


    Meaning, I don't know how to deal with fat thighs so I'll just say that fat thighs are my "artistic vision".


    Michael
     
  16. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    Ah the curse of being a woman, insecurity about your body. I know very few women who are secure in their own skin and usually the most attractive have the most insecurities. I myself have gotten worse with age. add wrinkles to the fat thighs. I can sympathize with the subject but the most often remark is make me look thinner. if only I could find a camera that does that, I could make a million. Sorry not advice here except i just shoot hoping they'll like something.
     
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Thankfully, I only do landscapes. :D
     
  18. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    smart man
     
  19. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    LOL...that would definitely NOT work in this case.
     
  20. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Yes, and quite well too Robert. Your work is amazing.
     
  21. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Most people that are not comfortable with themselves do not involve themselves in formal photo sessions. If they are forced or coerced into it they usually try to get their discomfort across in the image itself. How someone looks physically usually has less to do with it than the persons own confidence or resisitance to losing some perceived loss of total control over a situation. I've shot very large, very short or even less then what society dictates as "not attractive" and very much enjoyed they're self confidence and absolute confort in their skin. I can't count the "perfectly formed people" who have left my efforts void of interest. Those same people are the ones fixated by tiny imperfections that are irrelevant to the overall effort. I can count on 2 fingers the people I've worked with that are "perfectly formed" and had the ability to get past their tiny details long enough to assimulate themselves into a concept and make the images better. Yet the interesting people with self confidence give easily and in volume. I'm currently working with a freind with MS. This disfiguring and mentally distructive disease has left this person with frustrations beyond count. Yet when we get together she brings it all with confidence. We don't spend our time worried about a ZIT. But that time is spent socializing shooting and laughing.
    What we get to do as Photographers/Artist or "whatever" is very special. Allowing a sitter to trivialize these efforts over little tiny details is a distraction. So I'm all for blowing past those concerns and moving on to what is important. Having fun capturing the magic of the moment.
     
  22. David

    David Member

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  23. wfe

    wfe Member

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    Tell her to skip a few meals and come back later :D

    Just joking, I have to agree with the comments regarding conversation and establishing a connection with the person. If you are able to take their mind away from being photographed I believe that the chances of a good picture go way up. It is really about the person not the thighs or hips.
     
  24. haris

    haris Guest

    Well, just two days ago my model said she would like to move session some time later because she would like to get 2 or 3 kilograms... Mind of woman moves in misterious ways :smile:
     
  25. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    First off I know you are just joking. But this is just exactly why women over time have gotten so darn self concious. In our world, not so much is thought about how a man looks. Granted the hair thing will get in the way, but how many times has a man been thought of as overweight until he really is exceedingly overweight? Who cares if he is not the proper proportions? Does he lose out on job interviews because of his looks? There are a myriad of things that society as a whole expects of women in the looks department. These sterotypes of perfection are laughed about and a constant undercurrent for woemn to try and attain. wfe, I am not berrating you, just siting that this thing happens. I recently lost a whole lot of weight. Well over 100 pounds. You should have seen the reactions of some people who had not seen me during that time. Some I wanted to hug, and others I had to restrain myself from smacking. Granted I (this is my opinion) think women are more emotional. We take the whole load of crap that is fed to us about being perfect. I lost the weight for health reasons. Ya know what I've gained? I have a butt that hangs my legs look like a sharpei puppy, Perky is not a word I associate with my now 38 long breast size. I could fly with the extra skin that is under my arms if I could find a nice mountain to jump off of. Being Thanksgiving my neck looks like a Tom Turkey. AND I STILL WILL NOT GET IN FRONT OF A CAMERA!

    Any of you guys shooting nudes ever consider shooting one of a fat lady? Ask yourselves why? Then back track and think a bit. What would happen if you did ask a fat lady to pose nude for you? Use those same platitudes you are using on women you do shoot nudes of. Yeah we are insecure, we have been trained to be insecure and to strive for perfection. What a crock.

    Brad I am not degrading you or any of the men who have responded. Just voicing the emotion of one who has been on the otherside of this. You all mean well. It is a tough thing and there are not just individual reasons, it is drummed into us and society at large has trained us to be fearful of our lack of perfection.
     
  26. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Well Aggie, Ya know we all love ya! Thanks for sharing your heartfelt perspective on this issue.