What is it that makes a person photogenic?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    Scientifically speaking, a beautiful face is the most average and symmetrical. That doesn’t mean they’re photogenic though.

    Oddly enough, most models have unusually strong features, and this allows the light to look more interesting and gives a more three dimensional illusion on a flat photograph. The exaggerated features also help to sell a story behind it. Also androgynous features can help. Women with masculine cheekbones or men with feminine mouths can be really striking on film. They’re not always what we would consider classically beautiful. I’ve known a few high end professional models in my life, and they’re not as pretty in person.

    There’s also character to consider. Sometimes someone can have a hideous feature that would make them far less attractive by traditional standards, but their uniqueness makes them a much better subject.

    Also, a pose or facial expression can go a long way to making an ordinary looking person more photogenic.

    In the end, a good photographer can find what makes a person interesting to look at, and figure out a way to capture it. In the right hands, just about anyone can be photogenic.
     
  2. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    Many years ago, I was told of an exercise that would tell you if a person is "photogenic". You take a picture of the face looking directly into the camera lens. Process the film, make a print showing the complete face. Make another print, the exact same size but with the negative reversed. When the prints are dry, take the print from the reversed negative and cut the face exactly in two. Take the right half and place it over the right half of the correctly printed other print. You are now looking at a face that is made up of the same side of the face. IF the person in the combination picture looks like the person in the correct print, that person is probably "photogenic". I tried it and it worked........Regards!
     
  3. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The relationship between model and photographer has a role in how photogenic the model appears in photographs. So do preconceptions of beauty on the part of either.
     
  4. It takes the lighting, the pose, a willingness to work with the photographer and then of course the photographer.
     
  5. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    Stereotypes and cliches in the portrait technique and even more so in viewers heads.

    Look at it differently. Impressionist and surrealists, cubists portraits helps to start. They extract something not visual, but the feel. It took me really long time to get what Diana Arbus and Bruce Gilden faces are beautiful.
    Think about it. Why? To me it is how contact with photographer was established and how photographer feel about the seater.
    If portrait is taken as HCB did, with humanitarian approach, face is always beautiful.
     
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    cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    You are implying that perfect symmetry in the face makes someone photogenic. I think there is more to it than this.
     
  7. Louis Nargi

    Louis Nargi Subscriber

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    I would think that good bone structure is a factor but also a person with smaller features since they say that the camera or lens puts ten pounds on a person.
     
  8. A nice natural smile can do wonders.
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I don't think it's symmetry - take for example Tyler Posey, from Teen Wolf:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    his face is pronouncedly asymmetric. Yet he's highly photogenic and a major teen heartthrob. It happens that both sides of his face, uneven though they are, are very attractive.

    But as others have said, photogenic and attractive are not mutually inclusive. I think photogenicity (if that's a word) has to do with a psychological harmonization between the inside and the outside of a person. Someone who is in tune with and at peace with who they are both as a physical and as a spiritual/intellectual being is photogenic. If someone has a "beautiful" appearance but is not attuned to that and its effect on others around them - either they're uncomfortable with their beauty, or they're an ugly personality - then they're unlikely to take a good picture. But I think it also largely requires a photographer with some talent to recognize that and capture it - casual camera-users may get lucky from time to time in photographing someone who is exceptionally photogenic and doing them justice, but that's as much by luck of circumstance as anything else. It's possible to take a bad picture of someone photogenic - pose them at high noon on a sunny day with the sun in their eyes, with a busy background, etc, and they'll look just as fugly as anyone else.
     
  10. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    A natural ease in front of the camera. They're comfortable in their own skin.
     
  11. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    It would be quite interesting to see photos of the twins, and then try to get input from folks about why one IS 'photogenic' while the other twin IS NOT!
     
  12. tedr1

    tedr1 Member

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    Yes, this counts for a lot, someone who is feeling uncomfortable is probably not looking their best. A lot depends on the photographer, working with subjects is a skill that some are better at than others.
     
  13. tnp651

    tnp651 Subscriber

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    The Marquardt Beauty Mask is a research-backed template for judging how close a face is to the ideal of beauty.
     
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  15. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Boy, that first facial example used at the web site certainly does zero to float my boat!
     
  16. mrosenlof

    mrosenlof Subscriber

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    I think the biggest factor to be photogenic is the ability to keep looking natural when facing the camera. A lot of people can't do it. Or at least have a hard time staying relaxed and natural.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Somehow, I don't think Samuel Beckett fit most of the criteria referred to in this thread, but when you bring the talent of Jane Bown into the equation ....

    Samuel-Beckett-by-Jane-Bown.jpg
     
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    cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I think the photographer has very little influence on the photogenic qualities of certain people. They would still look great if photographed by Joe public with a brownie 127.
     
  19. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    No, I think the word is "Photogenic" or how that face photographs and has little or nothing to do with how "nice" the subject is as a person which is probably a different question. I have seen some very "photogenic" people who were SOBs and some who were Angels both male and female, but truly "photogenic" subjects are really quite rare. My photo mentors emphasized that the word was not the same as "beautiful" or "handsome"................Regards!
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i think the main thing that makes or does not make a person photogenic
    is lighting ( and maybe a portrait lens at f4 ) and the right kind of lens.
    anyone and anything can become photogenic with the right lighting technique and lens
    .. i don't mean this in a "lipstick on a pig will look like a supermodel" kind of way ( but close )
    but i thinkpart of the problem with the late 20th century and the early years of the 21st century is
    that people forget that for 100+ years photographers studied lighing+posing technique from painting and they didn't
    use lenses that were so sharp, and stopped down a viewer could count the pores on someone's nose // well, daguerreotypes were made with ubersharp
    petzval lenses but they weren't massive enlargements and the DOF was shallow so there was sharpness and then out of focus areas ..
    the mastery of portrait lighing is a lost art. i have a collection of high school portraits from the 1920s and they are things of beauty ..
    the photographer knew how to make pretty much ANYONE look good (photogenic ),
    im also thinking the other problem is that it hasn't been until recently that municipal drinking water that is free of bacteria
    has been available ... maybe the problem is that photographers, sitters and viewers aren't mildly inebriated since
    for 100s of years people drank vaguely alcoholic beverages because they were sterilie ( so they wouldn't get dissentary ).
    i've heard stories ( not sure if they were true or not, they were even part of comedic routines ) about people
    met after a night "out" and then seeing them in bright light or after the toxins were out of their system ...
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
  21. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Perhaps you should define "photogenic" for us. That may go some way to answering your question.
     
  22. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    +1
     
  23. tnp651

    tnp651 Subscriber

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  24. wyofilm

    wyofilm Subscriber

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    Was one twin more at ease in front of the camera than the other? Comfort in front of the lens contributes to one's photogenic state (IMHO).
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's easier to say why some people aren't photogenic, or more difficult to photograph. Some people's attractiveness involves transient features, that's eye movements, other facial movements. lips/mouth etc and these can be lost in a still image.

    Ian
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    anyone can be photogenic if you treat them with modesty, dignity ane respect ..
    its not the person you are photographing anyways but something else they reflect onto the film.
    good lighting and technique helps, but it is just as easy to photograph a "pretty and photogenic / telegenic"
    person and they don't look good ...