I Command You to Look Natural

One of the hardest things for public figures to do is to look natural when someone tells them, “Look natural.” For proof, look no further than a recent photo of the GOP presidential candidates that appeared in The Washington Post. Every one of these public figures is accustomed to the spotlight’s glare. They deliver high-powered speeches, appear on network TV interview programs, and drag themselves onstage before thousands of potential voters. Yet how many look comfortable posing in the photo? I’d argue not a single one. It might as well be a mug shot.

What are the problems?

  • Hands are plagued by the old “What do I do with my hands?” conundrum
  • Shoulders are either extremely rigid or slumped
  • Tight grins, marking an indecision whether to smile or look serious
  • They are clearly uncomfortable being crowded, showing no desire to touch one another

It’s lessons like this that make me tend to avoid posed photos. Candid, real life shots tend to show us in a far better light.

Okay, most of us are unlikely to make the scene in a presidential cattle call lineup. What does this mean for you and me In our professional lives? We are most likely to be photographed at a meeting or reception. To avoid that uncomfortable pose, when a photographer urges you to smile and look at the camera, try this. First, smile and say, “That’s okay. Just take an action shot of us talking.” If he fails to take the hint, ignore him and let him take (or not take) a candid picture.

What’s your take on the comfort level of the folks in the Post photo? And what are your views on posed photos?

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