It all comes down to a scarcity mindset.
As anyone born after 1997 can attest, taking photos feels awkward. Unless you’re a professional model, it’s nigh on impossible to nail a pose and facial expression that isn’t completely cringey—and even harder to not get stuck in the same pose and facial expression that seemed to work once upon a time over and over again.
That’s with a traditional photography setup. Now, with most pictures being taken with our camera phones, there’s the additional variable of having to find the perfect angle ourselves. It’s all a recipe for tragic, embarrassing disaster, I tell you.However, scroll through any Gen Zer’s social media and you’ll see a treasure trove of effortlessly cool and candid selfies. Sure, the cynic might say it’s purely the use of filters that makes their images look that way, but there’s more to it than that. And posing expert Christine Buzan has the perfect explanation.
First off, Buzan’s credentials: Her online guide, “101 Ways to Pose,” has been featured in the likes of “Cosmopolitan,” “Refinery 29” and “Fashionista.” Not to mention 1.4 million people follow her TikTok handle, @LookGoodInPhotos, for easy and effective photo-taking tips, from how to master a sultry smile to acing cute Disneyland pics. In other words…she knows her stuff.
Extensive knowledge, along with being a millennial herself, has prompted Buzan to form a rather unique, but totally compelling theory. Perhaps the awkwardness around photos for folks of this age group all comes down to their relationship with technology.
"The one thing all millennials have in common—whether you were born in 1981 or 1996—is that technology changed really rapidly throughout the course of our youth and adolescence," she says in a recently uploaded clip.
@lookgoodinphotos #stitch @itskatesteinberg Why are millennials so awkward in photos? Here’s my hot take on why Gen Z’s are so much more comfortable in front of the camera. Watch the whole thing before you come for me! - #posingforphotos #millennialposing #genzvsmillennials ♬ original sound - CHRISTINE BUZAN | POSING TIPS
"This is especially true for photography,” she continues, noting that within 30 years this generation went from wind-up film cameras to smartphones. In her mind, millennials haven’t quite caught up mentally to see pictures as an everyday piece of life, instead of a precious commodity.
Buzan even has her own anecdote of “finding a disposable camera and then taking like a million photos of stupid stuff” and getting in trouble because back then, “film was expensive. It cost money to buy the film, it cost money to buy the camera, it cost money to develop it."
Experiences like this, where millennials were taught that taking photos was not only a “special” event, but a high-stress one to boot since you’d “only have a few tries” to capture a moment, have basically ingrained in them a “scarcity mindset when it comes to posing for photos,” Buzan argued.
Gotta say, it makes sense. The part of me currently triggered by excruciating memories of stressing over those school portraits that rolled around once a year is inclined to agree.
Buzan’s video resonated with other viewers as well. A few pointed out how not being able to see the final product instantly (like you can nowadays) also contributed to getting stuck in poses that felt “safe” at the time but today come across as a little stiff. Some also felt like it had to do with how millennials were instilled with a sense of “shame” when they first started taking selfies.
We can learn a lot from Gen Z when it comes to incorporating a carefree vibe. Buzan thinks that photos are no different. Her advice is to simply give ourselves permission to experiment in the same way that Gen Z does. Rather than seeing picture-taking as a precious event, see it as a form of everyday expression, like you would with chatting or texting.
“The worst thing that happens if you don’t like a photo is you delete it or don’t post it.”
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