arsvie logotype

Forget about beauty standards and show up for yourself

Throughout my photography career, I met many beautiful women. At the beginning of a photo session, most said the same phrases: “I am not photogenic!” or “I am awkward in front of the camera!” And I fell for all of them because there was a time when I felt the same way. Such negative self-talk changed and turned in the opposite direction when I started learning photography and posing. Later, I applied acquired knowledge in portrait photo sessions for myself and my clients. I learned how to pose and trained myself, my body, muscles, and mind to get comfortable with posing. It took time, practice, attention, and dedication. By learning to pose, I relearned to think about myself as photogenic. The most important word here is I LEARNED. 

photographer elena sullivan

Being photogenic and loving yourself in photos is a skill you can learn anytime. It requires practice. Trust me when I tell you that I’m a photographer! YOU CAN LEARN TO FEEL PHOTOGENIC!

If we check with a dictionary, the word “photogenic” means: 

“Looking attractive on photographs or films (biological) Producing or emitting light; having a face that looks attractive on photos.”

What does it mean “looking attractive”? What does it take to look attractive? What you should have and do to look attractive? And one more question: who decides if one is attractive? 

The easiest answer to the last question is mass media and fashion magazines. When they bombard us with photos of the actors, musicians, influencers, and celebrities, we instinctively learn to see them as models of attractiveness. And what about other people, especially women?! I know that we, women, are more sensitive about our looks and appearance than men. And why do we allow magazines and mass media to define “photogenic” and attractive standards for us? 

forget about beauty standards


Take a look at the book of my fellow photographer Mihaela Noroc, “The Atlas of Beauty,” where she showed women of the world in 500 portraits. It’s an excellent book that allows us to see and understand our unique beauty. After going through all the pages and looking into the eyes of women portrayed in different settings and countries, I thought: How can we have a beauty standard? How can we have a photogenic standard? The word standard is inclusive in its origin, thus excluding others. 

elena sullivan photographer

Beauty comes from within and is about personal traits, qualities, and experiences that are felt rather than seen.

Photogenic is how you position your body in front of the camera; BEAUTY is the light that comes from your soul, heart, and mind and is visible in your eyes and smiles.

show up for your business

When I did a flying dress photoshoot on the streets of Mexico City with four different women, I wanted to show the beauty of every four who showed up and stood up in front of my camera that day. I wanted to show their uniqueness. Beauty is a feeling that starts within each of us. And it’s born through acting brave, like showing up despite multiple versions of fear: being judged by others, “not enoughness”, “not good enough”, “unrealistic beauty standards” ect. All four of them have different careers, successes, and fears. What united them that day was bravery and a desire to learn to feel beautiful. It was an unforgettable creative adventure for all of us. Click the button below to learn details of that photoshoot and get to know brave women. 

confidence in showing up for your business

Hiding and avoiding only strengthens fear and disbelief. On the contrary, showing up and breaking a fear pattern makes you brave and helps you move forward, elevate your life, and feel better about yourself! We can learn so much in the uncomfortable situations and doing new things. And you can learn to feel beautiful and photogenic.

Posing is a skill; you can learn it and train your mind to think differently about it.

Practicing posing is the simplest way to overcome the “I am not photogenic” obstacle. There are hundreds of good videos teaching all the aspects of posing. Watch them and repeat them at home, where you feel safe and comfortable. Repeat it as much as you want, until you start feeling more relaxed thinking about posing. It will initially be uncomfortable, just as with many other new beginnings. Keep practicing! Soon, you won’t even notice how you will start feeling more relaxed when thinking about posing and showing up in your own photos.

Comfort in actions comes with REPETITION.

I’m sure you feel comfortable doing your work because you repeated it many times. The same applies to posing, feeling beautiful and photogenic, and looking at your photos.

beauty standards remove them

You are brave and smart! You have a message to share with the world, a service to give that you know can help others. Isn’t that why you started your own business? And there are people who need and want to hear your message and use your service. And they need to see you first and get used to your personality, voice, and manner of communication. It all becomes easier and better with practice and repetition. 

People connect with people, not with some abstract stock images. 

People who will love your message want to see the real you. 

They don’t need unrealistic perfection. They want to see YOU!

So, show up for yourself and the people who you want to help.

Stay inspired,

Elena Sullivan 

Sharing is caring

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cookies Policy

We use cookies to improve your browsing experience, personalize content, provide social media features, and analyze our traffic. By clicking “Accept All Cookies,” you consent to our use of cookies. You can manage your preferences or find out more by visiting our Cookie Policy.