My Ramblings About Taking Profile Photos

Everyone wants a profile photo. This is me rambling about how to find a photographer, Where to take photos ... and do I really need profile photos?

Yesterday, a local Kara, Togo, West African man and I got together, and I posed for some profile photos. It was frustrating for me to be in front of the camera, trying to get good photos taken. My photography skills needed transferring to my new friend, and I almost never take staged photos; therefore, I needed to concentrate.

Andy Lee Graham Profile Photo

We took around 50 photos, and only one was good. The rest were trash. Generally, the number of photos you delete is indicative of your photography skills. In reality, we accomplished little yesterday, but both of us learned a lot about photography.

My Kara friend is a good guy, a willing student. I discovered him the other day as he was recording a video of a small stream here in Kara at around 7 a.m. This told me that he was motivated to take videos, maybe photos, and his brain was ahead of the game because he was doing something proactive in the early morning hours. I walked up to him, introduced myself, and we exchanged contact information. I handed him my cell phone, and he beeped my phone.

Generally, I avoid talking to people who wake up late, eat breakfast, play with themselves for 3-4 hours, then finally get around to waking up and having a life around 2 p.m., or even worst around 5 p.m. There are people of the day and people of the night. And since the sun is a good friend of photographers, I suppose many people are good at sunset photos, and only a few can do the sunrises. Personally, it behooves me to search for the man or woman taking photos of the sunrise because, all in all, taking great photos is a very inconvenient task. Good photos need to be taken when the subject of the photos appears, not when the photographer appears.

Which Comes First, the Photographer or the Photo Subject?

For sure it is the subject of the photo, and photos are 100 percent timing. When the photo appears, you take it. It will never appear again.

Many Profile Photos Are Staged

Yet, profile photos are staged; people pose for them ... not my cup of tea. I have little experience with having people pose for photos. In reality, when the subject of my photos poses, I normally walk away. Natural photos are my goal -- authentic life, not illusory life. However, I do understand: Profile photos are illusory, delusional photos. Or, said more correctly, we are trying to take photos of the best of the best views of ourselves; we want to put our best possible face forward.

Big Money to Be Made With Facebook Photos

Today, I believe a good photographer could easily live anywhere on the planet earning money taking personalized photos for Facebook.com. We discussed this, and we agreed that it is “Maybe best to not take photos of people who are extremely ugly. They will not pay when we don’t take beautiful photos.”

People want to pay for results, not for time spent. When we pay for photos, we want better-than-reality profile photos. And herein lies the problem with profile photos: People do not want THEIR photo; they want either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie's photo.

Blind Luck Photos

Trying to teach photography principles to my friend was taxing to my nerves; patience is difficult. I need a profile photo taken. It is important to me to have a few by the end the week. I want to send them to my book editor, so he can finish the book cover.

The Principle of Portraits of Lesson 1 for Kara Friend

1. Control the sun.

2. Control the background.

3. Rely 99 percent on blind luck. Take photos, and then take more photos.

4. Focus on the face, eyes, hair and clothing.

5. See the photo first, and then take it.

6. Never think a photo over. Take a photo. You can always delete it. To stand, holding the camera, trying to hold it perfectly, is a waste of time. You could have 10 photos by the time you "think" the photo into excellence.

7. The more photos you take, the better.

Like the one-minute manager, I said, “We want to take 500 photos.”

And, when we were done, we had only 50, and 25 were of him, as I had been demonstrated how to take photos. And only one was even close to what I desired, but that was one more than I had yesterday. It is amazing how a person who owns a digital camera knows it costs nothing to snap a shot but still is conservative, as if each photo has value. They are all worthless until one becomes of value when reviewed later.

After talking, he understood principles 1 and 2 a little, and I was having him stand around making a square, like the old time cliché of film directors. We walked around in the Palace Park, and I said, find a photo to take, and he would find one. I would hand him the camera, and he would take photos of trees, bushes, flours, making sure to exclude all the negative parts of the photos.

We will try again to take photos tomorrow, and this time we will return with 300-500 photos, ever knowing that luck compounds with the number of times we open the door.

Personally, I have no desire to have my photo taken; to look at my reflection in photos is walking down a dangerous path. My reason for taking photos of me, and plastering them onto a book, a page, or otherwise, is for one to be used like a signature. By placing my photo on something, I say, I did this: If you want to blame someone, or credit him or her, this is the photo of the person responsible.

Thank you,
Andy Lee Graham

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