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Why Do You Not Like Having Your Portrait Taken?

Serious question, there are two groups that I struggle with to get to agree with getting their portrait taken, one is women and the other is ethnic minorities. I have no idea why, I approach and ask the same questions I do for everyone else but whereas my refusal rate for others is about 10% for women and people of other ethnic backgrounds its more like 90%, Why?

This was one of the few that said yes, it was a mutual exchange of information, she needed mine for the charity she was working for so the exchange was my information for her portrait. Even then it took a little cajoling to get it and I don't know why as she is a very pretty girl. The hardest part of this image for me was black and white or colour, I went for colour ;)
Karnajit Mukherjee's profile photoHitesh Sharma's profile photoD Umapathi's profile photoMateusz Tajsich's profile photo
interesting and really beautiful face, a mix of east and west
Glad you cajoled AND went for colour - those eyes are a gorgeous colour!
My reason of trust what one would do with the photo, will it cost me greatly, and if all is clear with no regrets I wouldn't mind to give up my facial identity.
She is beautiful :)

I do self portraits because I sometimes just don't have anyone else around. I'm not sure why, but it makes me a little uncomfortable when someone else does it. Maybe because I don't get to have all the control :)

My only real problem with women (and the odd man, but mostly women) is to get them to have some expression to their face. Men seem more willing to go for the moment. It's frustrating.
Stunning picture!

The main reason for anyone to have a problem is that we're used to seeing ourselves in a mirror, where left and right is reversed. The asymmetry of our faces makes us used to seeing that particular feature on that side, while it's on the other side in print. That can make the photograph look sufficiently different to be slightly uncomfortable :)
Very good question..not sure which percentage I fall in.
Looks fabulous in colour. Top stuff!
Dyonis Rakhl
I never had a direct response to this question either, but I would imagine that a) ladies tend to accept nothing but perfection, and they never consider themselves perfect enough (as much as we might be trying to convince them to the opposite), so they are unwilling to share their alleged imperfection with the rest of the world; b) ethnic people may have a feeling that the photogrepher sees them as a picturesque art object, a rarety, rather than a person and individual, which may be somewhat offending (and, to certain extent, there is always some truth to this perception). Just my thoughts.
I find exactly the same thing +Mike Shaw , I'm doing a project at the moment of "Market Strangers" and it's completely male dominated, partly due to the trouble of finding interesting female market sellers but mainly because when I do find them often they say no.

It is great when you get one who says yes :)
it was nice of you to go with the colored version +Mike Shaw! love how her eyes glow in this shot, brilliant capture. and as for your question, let's hear what the ladies have to say about that :)
Great photo, Mike. Did you do any post work on it? beautiful young lady and her eyes are amazing
This is shocking statistic. Not surprised that women might be more reluctant but 90% refusal rate is shocking. +Dyonis Rakhl makes very good points, most likely explanation I can think of
For me, I've had SO many bad photos taken of me, that a stranger wanting to take another potentially bad photo would be my nightmare! Who knows where it would show up!
As a white male, I hate having my picture taken because I am completely unremarkable in any way. Generally, photographers go to great lengths to not take my picture.
one woman's point of view: The desire to not be photographed is me coming to grips with the aging process - i recently turned 48 - and dealing with pride (when i think of myself, i look differently than i do when i look in the mirror or when i see a photograph of myself). Sometimes I wish I could see myself through my husband's eyes. :) Sophie is a BEAUTY! Love this photo!
What +Ayoub Khote said. Although, this doesn't explain the issue of women and people of other ethnic backgrounds not wanting to be photographed. Good question.
Trust is the main reason I believe.
My mother never liked her photo taken. She told me it would take her spirit away as an excuse.
She also would feel very critical of her appearance often once the photo was taken.
Society and its insecurities. :] You've done well with going for colour, she has spectacular eyes.
Years ago when I spent quite some time in various cultures, many people believed that the camera would capture their "soul or spirit"

i don't know how common that still is, however I suppose such beliefs linger.

However I have always disliked having my photo taken, and I have no soul, and damn little spirit
It might be that you're a white male and you're approaching somebody outside of your gender/ethnicity. It's nothing personal, just a psychological barrier that is in place for most of us.
Uyi I
+Mike Shaw This is a wonderful picture and I think "colour" was the way to go.

This may be an overly simplistic answer to your question of who says yes and who says no. I would say you get the most yes from those who are just like you. They are neither women nor ethnic. Their perception of you as being like them, gives them a certain level of trust. I don't know how your can better endear the trust of the other groups, but you have to find a way to put yourself in their shoes and caress your questions to how they may feel. Remember that they know nothing about you and that instinctively as human beings we react to what is different about us. Yes, fear. You have to get your audience to know you differently from the men of similar culture background to you. Show them your work. This is sad for me to say, but your wife might have better luck asking the women, where as a tale about your subjects original culture group (Where they come from - if you've gotten than information from the subject), may endear you more to them and present a level of trust. As I said, this is mostly conjecture and based my being more of the varied ethnic variety you are referring to :-)
+Mike Shaw I have a hard time with my portrait being taken because I have a prominent nose and thin lips - those do not balance well. Also, the amount of PS (or other) work required to make my skin look like the woman's in this photo is ridiculous. And for some reason my eyes draw deep shadows into the inner corners making them appear to be very narrow - also not flattering.
thank you for going colour....but if it was BW, could be a little secret in the "what the colour of such beautifull eyes are", and could bring an another aspect to the picture.
I love how all these white males are guessing at the answer. I'm whiter than Wonder bread, so I'll just answer on behalf of the chicks: For me personally, I think I'm eternally bummed that I'm getting older and that I am overweight. For some reason it doesn't bug me too much in the mirror, but it shows up more in pictures--Ayoub's theory probably has a lot to do with it; as an art teacher, I sometimes make my students draw upside down or look at things backwards to see what's REALLY there, instead of what they assume is there. The reverse of the normal image forces us to look at ourselves differently, and it could be discomfiting.
Low self esteem is my issue, and a pattern formed from a young age of the school photographers and my parents always getting the worst shot possible and it would be on display for the world.
color was a great choice here. beautiful. you really captured her deep and piercing gaze. plus just a hint of her accommodation to your request. good stuff.
Is she a real person?
I must agree with Ali. I no longer look as good as I did in my 20's. At 51 I look a whole lot younger than I am, but I cringe when asked to have my picture taken... And I at one time modeled professionally. Society expects perfection in women, and we are surrounded by ads and imagery promoting that unattainable perfection. We are infused deep down subconsciously with it. So, it comes down to this... women do not feel perfect enough to have their portrait taken.
Yes you really brought out her eyes nicely. Amazing. but sort of prices do you charge? I guess it all depends on how long to do each individual features I guess? Well good luck in your quest.
She still has that...indifferent, "I don't really care to have my picture taken, so is this over yet?" look on her face. Who knows, maybe she wanted more than just yer phone number. :P lol
Dawn M
I can't speak for all women, I am one of those that choose not to have my picture taken. Of course, how we see ourselves and how the world see us are never the same. I thought my grandmother was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. She thought the opposite. Just before she died (@ 98 yrs) she thanked me for always telling her she was beautiful.....she was never more beautiful than at that moment.
Have you checked your fly? Only joking - great shot!
She is very pretty, I have always struggled with having my picture taken, Im one of those people if Im in a store and happen to pass myself in the mirror most of the time I think it's someone else. Even though people have told me that im attractive. Most of the best pics of me was when I didn't know someone was taking the picture.Weird
Most people are simply self conscious and know that portrait style are most descriptive of one's self. We believe that our insecurities are reflected in our photographs of self. That's about it. It's the same deficient feeling some feel about speaking in public, or nearly any other activity which requires opening up.
I think it's a self-esteem thing. Women and minorities might also be afraid of being exploited somehow, and they probably wonder if you're having them on because they don't think of themselves as special or unique or beautiful. They don't see what you see when they look in the mirror.
I used to be that way too. Then I was asked by a local photographer to do a nude shoot for her. We did the makeup and hair and got high and giggled a bit, then we did the shoot. I didn't get self-conscious, in spite of the fact that I was naked.

When she showed me what she'd made from the images, I was floored. Suddenly I was able to see myself through someone else's eyes. I started looking at the whole instead of picking myself apart. I found myself really liking being photographed for the simple fact that each time I worked with a photographer who was a serious artist, I got a new perspective on myself. It's amazing what having different ways to look at yourself can do for your self-image.
Excellent photograph and narrative. I feel your pain as I'm doing a Project 365 and 100 Strangers Project at the same time. I encounter people who simply believe they don't look good in photographs. I kind of think a potential subject's opinion about not looking good in a photograph has more to do with their past experiences with having their picture taken by someone who didn't know what they were doing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the photographer has the power to make or break a beautiful photograph. You did an excellent job going with color. Excellent focus on the eyes of your subject.
I love having my picture taken. It's interesting to see how other people see you. But I'd probably want to ask a few questions if it was just someone randomly asking me.
You capture only the image with an emotion,,, but naturally is that what your portrait says about you.. Captured a person is like im prisionment... before digitally i would say negatively but now we have to say digitally Your :)
First of all, wonderful picture. She is indeed very pretty and you sir, talented.

I run away from the camera, while secretly wishing i could feel confident and pretty enough to pose in front of it. As a child i used to enjoy being in photos and smiling all the time, but as i grew up, i became more and more self-conscious. I guess women refuse to be in front of the camera because of insecurities, complexes and fear of being considered less than perfect.
I believe it has to do with both groups 1)having a lack of self confidence/esteem and 2) a sense of distrust. Both groups have been considered and treated as inferior throughout history.
Stems from my teen years when I was bullied because I was especially awkward looking, at least that’s what I gathered, and even into my early 20s when I was barely noticed. I’m also shy by nature. Today, I continue to struggle with self-confidence due to these experiences .
I can tell you WHY I don't like my portraits taken..the results are never satisfactory or maybe that is actually what I look like but won't want to see it.
+Jayme Moehle , isn't it awful how we choose to believe the worst things people say about us? I've known some beautiful people who thought they were hideous monsters because someone had once told them so in order to hurt them. How sad is that?
Women are gawked at a lot, and getting a chance to opt out is a nice change of pace.
+Mona Sinha is right +Mike Shaw. People don't like portraits. I read that this is because portrait looks different then mirror. I don't like myself picture too
I can't answer for other women, but for myself i tend to say no to portraits because I've never had one I liked. I do portraits myself and put a lot of effort into making sure I portray the person at their very best. They can't see themselves. I do, so I help them adjust accordingly. I've found in the past that when I have had a portrait done, this is not the case. You could look like any kind of hot mess and there is someone snapping away at you as is. Then you get the end result and wish you had a do-over... Its usually a disappointment.
I know, for myself, it was much like Ali McCartney mentioned above. I felt like I was aging, I was fat and the gap in my front teeth was big enough to drive a Mac truck through. ... but I look back at the pictures of my son growing up and it looks like he didn't have a mother. I'm changing my attitude now. My son is now a young adult and I'm happy to be photographed next to him, smiling my gap-toothed, double chinned smile as much as I can. I want my future grandchildren to know how proud I was to be his mom. I want others who see my photos to view me as fun-loving and happy. I'll let you take my photo! ;-)
I like the camera. It doesn't mean I'm model beautiful. It means thanks for the attention.
+Mike Shaw That is a really good question. For me it varies and many times I take my own self-portraits and even when i do that I filter the heck out of it. I know for me I'm still self-conscience of my looks. Many days I really don't see myself as attractive. I'm not beating myself up fishing for compliments and I know I'm not the ugliest but at the same time I don't think I'm handsome enough to be in front of the camera.
Dawn M
+John Pappas +Bev Hayes +Kathryn O'Neill +Sarra Robinson +SusanAnn Avery +Ali McCartney +Leanne Zaras I read your comments and looked at your profile pictures...... you are NOT unremarkable, your prominent nose and/or big lips are STUNNING, your extra weight is a larger medium to carry your BEAUTY...your 48, and 51 yrs have just given you more time to share your BEAUTY... I am a 51 yr old grandmother of five...I've seen you in the mirror are BEAUTIFUL and should allow your picture to be fact you should demand it....
They say the camera adds 10 pounds...
I don't need another 10lbs. Lol.
Thoreau said "it is not what we look at that matters but, what we see". What we "see" is heavily influenced by the culture around us, out world screams that we are not good enough, not happy enough, (unless you buy ___, then you can have happiness), plus a plethora of other subtle negative messages, and exploitation of images, youtube anyone . One random validation of worth is not enough to overcome years of doubt and billions of dollars of critical messaging. For me the interesting question is why the men are so eager to allow their photo taken, have they compartmentalized the negative messages sufficiently to be delusional about their self worth. Because for sure they suffer equally from the same self-worth issues. Or is it simply a trust issue?
I think you can blame all the weirdos for so many women turning you down. We are suspicious as to WHY someone we don't know would want to take our picture.
I am not that far out of childhood yet and I find that girls go through a phase in late middle school where they run from the camera. It is just for fun I think at first, but then you start to think there is some reason for it. Other girls do it because their friends are. They get one bad picture or hear there can be a bad picture and they don't want to have it happen. Some people never grow out of that, though they eventually stop running and hiding their face.

Another and probably the main reason is the fear of judgement. When you take a photograph people will judge it. I think that women are very sensitive to judgement and is why they often take so much time on their appearance, this might also be why minorities are reluctant to be photographed.
Beautiful picture! Interesting image as well. I think all of us don't realize how interesting our faces are. I love the pictures +Mihailo Radičević and +Dariusz Majgier take. The faces of the old people contain such interesting stories. I would love to know how Dariusz gets the people he photographs to consent. I don't particularly like how I photograph. I think it is because I know all about me. There is no hidden mystery to me. Now some one else might feel differently. I think a good photograph needs to leave some questions in the mind of the viewer. If you don't keep looking back at a photograph it is because it "says it all" and leaves no lingering questions.
i would certainly take her fishing.
+Mike Shaw Just curious, did you airbrush the photo? Seems like you did, but I'm wondering how normal the practice is.
She is a very beautiful young woman.

Now to your question, the reason that I have a hard time letting people take my picture is because I have never felt pretty and don't want to be put somewhere where people can look at it and judge it.

Somewhere along the line, and I believe it was having too much criticism as a child by my own mother... "You are a pretty girl but...."

I can take 100 self portraits and sometimes not like even one of them.
There are many who feel that capturing your face is like capturing a part of your soul. And women are taught to compare themselves to Helen of Troy or her modern day equivalent. Seeing graphic evidence that your face does not measure up to these ideals can be soul crushing for many women.
David A
Helen of Troy looked like who? Never saw her picture. Peraphs she didn't like her picture taken either.
women r 2 worryd they will look bad n the photo and/or might think its creepy sum1 they dont kno is askn 4 a pic. idk bout the ethnic groups maybe its a cultural misunderstanding.
I am pretty too. There are two reasons I don't like having my picture taken. In this situation, one would be that I don't trust a stranger's motives for wanting a picture of me. Another is that I won't have control over the picture if it's not flattering. I hate it when people take pictures where I look bad and then tag me on Facebook!
I'd go with the they're from a different background than you so there are trust issues, I bet a female photogapher asking your questions would have a better success rate Likewise a member of the same eithnicity asking the same questions would probably have a higher success rate than you. be an interesting experiment to try out.
Some of us think we are supposed to look like the heavily made-up, artificially colored, airbrushed people - mostly women - who appear in advertisements. The warning sign every woman (in particular) should have on her mirror is that objects in the mirror may be distorted by cultural expectations of beauty.
and even as I black and white fa I'm glad you went with colour on this one those eyes ae incredible
thinks the different rates of participation may relate to trust, weirdos, insecurities, social pressure, etc. but also to the fact people may have different interests in life? Gender-specific magazines cover different topics, approach photography differently... and people pay good money for them, and advertisers don't like spending their money for nothing, so one has to believe that this does respond to gender-specific wishes from the readers. Idem for ethnic publications. My experience is that the success rate highly depends on the project ("a portrait" typically is way too generic a description. Best way to dispell insecurities is to describe what photo you want to get and how you'll use it!)... Some projects speak more to particular populations than others. Try topics you wouldn't naturally be attracted to, as a white male, and suddenly some models might appear a lot more in your photos ;-)
I like my look in a mirror but hate my look on 90% of photos.
I am not photogenic and always self critical of self images. Also, I feel very self conscious posing in front of a camera. The pretty lady photographed here either has perfect skin or has been enhanced in editing. Now my inferiority complex has just risen another notch :(
Frank M
My question would be "what are you going to do with it?", "Can I get a copy", and "If you photoshop it, airbrush it, cut-and-paste it, go away" (or rather: Show me what you're doing with it, and I reserve the right to veto)
There are too many wannabe photographers who take horrible photos but are great at "enhancing" them. Don't do that with me!

That being said, nice shot!
As a female and ethnic minority (a blend), mine comes from a few places:
1) general appearance insecurity
2) a high standard from myself and others
3) blunt, sometimes rude comments regarding my non-caucasian-looking features.
I've had many artist friends refuse to draw/paint/illustrate me because my ethnic background makes it "too hard" or strange for them. Photographers usually find me somewhere in the same "different-looking" vein, also commenting on it often. This stuff doesn't help with the first two problems!
Social pressure? I know I don't always look my best, and I don't want that not-best to be preserved for posterity. Better yet- I've found the harder I try to look awesome, the dorkier I look.. again, not how I want future generations to see me... Dunno about others, but this is how I feel.
Speaking as a Vietnamese woman, it is a cultural phenomenon that photos have to be absolutely perfect.

For example, when we got married last July, I looked at some Vietnamese photographers' portfolios. They made brides' skins very light with porcelain consistency, erased parents' winkles, posed everyone , and even altered the background to brighten up the sky and sun. Also, at Vietnamese weddings, all family members dress up to look their absolute best because that's the only time family photos are taken. That's why Vietnamese photographers spend 1/3 of the album on portraits of the B&G and 1/3 of their album taking posed photos of family members. The other 1/3 would be the actual event.

Candid shots aren't taken, and if they do, the photos are private.

I believe this type of culture was influenced by the China giant up north. Some people remember Beijing's Summer Olympics when the international community criticized some of China's photos that were photoshopped with tons of lights and fireworks.

I think the outsider would consider this a form of "vanity." But to the Vietnamese, it isn't. I think it's just a form of Asian philosophy.

btw, my husband and I chose to go with an American photographer for our wedding who was willing to take the type of shots that our families were looking for, blending the two cultures together.
That's a weird framing. It sounds like there is one very small group of people who like having their portraits taken--white men--and that virtually everyone else dislikes it.
Easy, women are inherently self-conscious. I suppose the same goes for minorities. It's not their fault really but mainly a result of societies perceptions forced upon them, IMHO. 
I find it interesting that people still refer to the belief that the camera captures the spirit (even as an excuse for not having a picture taken), for I find the exact opposite to be true in the field of portraiture. I dislike having portraits taken because I know that my spirit and personality cannot be adequately captured through a posed photograph; any portrait, no matter how well done, has to be taken (quite literally) at face value. It is not a surprise to me that those segments of society that are most frequently judged on outward appearance, before anything else, are the most reluctant to be photographed. As far as photographs of me go, I find that I'm happier with candid/documentary-style "portraits" in almost all cases.
ethnic minorities probably are worried about taking a photo that shows them in bad condition or use photo to give a unreal picture of them.and be seen or be judged one-sided
Wow, You know how to get a conversation going.... Very interesting : )
You forgot relatives. No matter how many great pics you show of them, they say they don't photograph well - ahh?
too pose/ pear chance...."you can not (Do this too meee)be serious",I like this attitude/picture
+Mike Shaw , Is the photo airbrushed in photoshop in any way? I've always found portraits to be highly unnatural-looking because a lot of portrait photographers seem to airbrush/edit to no end leaving me with a slightly creepy-looking photo. I don't like over-editing and that's why I tend to refuse portraits. I don't want my face to have the consistency of smudged baby skin and hair that looks painted.... I just want a nice, natural-looking photo.

Your shot is lovely and the woman is beautiful though :) But I'm talking in general terms of a lot of portrait photos being super over-edited.. I dislike it and it turns me off of portraits.

+Michelle Boast I agree :) in addition to what I've said.
The answer is simple. Self Image and Self Esteem issues.
Because I feel I look like crap in a camera.. and this is something I've been working on as of late +Mike Shaw
As a female minority, it might be because we do not believe that we conform to the idea of what is beautiful in our culture (I'm from the US). I read an essay in college, written from the point of view of an African American woman. She had a hard time explaining to her Caucasian friends what it is like to be a minority. One of the things in her essay always stuck with me. When she asked her friends what they saw in the mirror, they responded a woman. She explained to them that when she looked in the mirror - she saw a black woman. I see my race in the mirror. I think it's one of the first things people notice about me and I think it colors their perception of me. Whether or not this is true, who knows. But, it is this idea that we are not what is beautiful that would cause me to hesitate if someone wanted a photo.
It is socially acceptable, and expected unfortunately, for women to point out imperfections in themselves, even (or especially) after a compliment: "oh no, I look like a mess" "oh, this is just all I had to wear" "oh the food really wasn't that good." It can be sometimes even be seen as conceited to not respond in this way. These comments are bound to seep into your head whether you originally believed them or not. I see being asked to have your portrait taken as a kind of compliment, depending on the situation I suppose, and may invoke these reactions in a woman's mind that she isn't worthy.
I think for me, it's mostly a matter of not looking the way I think of myself as looking. 10 years post high school and one kid later, I have gradually looked in the mirror less and less and avoided pictures more and more as the person that I saw started to change. I am often still surprised when I see a picture that I really look this way now, not quite the size 2 from high school anymore. I am gradually becoming used to the way I look and as I do, I don't mind the pictures quite as much.
Because The photographer will over retouch it! Because the photographer will stigmatize it! Either way I'll end up looking not the way I am inside!!!
Perhaps it's that old thing about the camera stealing (a piece of) the soul?
not worried about it stealing my soul, worried about it showing a double chin! running, exercising, eating healthy and still there in photos - ugh!! :) vanity oh vanity.
Not all photographers are able to capture the soul and spirit of a person.
It's a talent some have.
I have never learned to be comfortable in front of a camera, and most of my photos looks strained and awkward. I don't have many I've liked, but they all share the distinction of being candid shots. It's not a vanity thing; hell I rarely look in a mirror when I'm around one.
gr8 personality....nd got hotest lips nd eyes.........?
Great pic! It would be interesting to see how this trend of conservatism plays out with the new Generation "U" (as i like to call my teens now, for the youtube generation) who are all about displaying their lives publicly.
a beautiful photo of a very pretty woman.
I don't like (make that I HATE) anyone to take my picture because no matter what well-meaning people attempt to explain, I do not photograph well. My face is crooked when I smile, when I don't smile I look many years older than I am, I have not found a single flattering angle at which I look presentable, much less appealing. It makes me very upset to have to explain "I don't want you to take my picture" anytime a group gathers and someone brings out the cameras. Why don't people just take NO for an answer?
its a trust issue, the two groups, you have the most problems with have trust issue with how their image will ultimately be used by - well for lack of a better phrase a member of the power structure. I to agree very attractive young lady, would like to see a b & w version as well to compare
+Mike Shaw I have the impression that people who say no have maybe an idea about the difference "to be captured for a photo" or to "make a portrait that captures them as a being", and not as a face.
If they would know you more (at least your work), they would say yes more often, I'm certain. To be able to "see the being" behind the facade makes us able to really portrait them, and this being is not always visible. There is the challenge.
(Besides that, I think there are many other reasons to say no, but that is maybe as well a part of getting to know them, to gain the trust to be captured.)
True my Girl Friend would much rather post pics taken in a studio than anything I take yet mine capture the moment women be strange end of
My reasons are because of self-consciousness and maybe self-esteem issues. If I'm critical of myself in my own pictures, how will other people perceive me. Hell, when I get compliments, the first thing that pops up in my head is "Why do you feel that way?" instead of being flattered.
Color is a good decision!! It looks wunderful!
I would be in the 90% and I would say in my case it would be a matter of trust (or lack thereof). That seems strange given that I have posted pictures of myself here on G+ that can be seen by anyone. The difference is that I control the image that is presented and to an extent what can be done with it.
For me, as a woman, my inclination to say no has remained for my life. thus far, the reason for this, however, has changed. For some time I hated how I looked, and thought myself ugly. I hated having my photo taken. Now as I'm older, allowing your portrait to be taken is a step of faith in today's world. You have no idea how the photo is going to be used. Someone mentioned how they could refocus the image and call it their wife Brenda, and the thing is some people will in fact do that. That is my fear. That said I have allowed my portrait to be taken twice recently by people who said they were affiliated with my college. My hope is that they were telling the truth, you know?
+Martyn Timson - the photograph looks masked to me. If you look in the lower right corner of the photograph you can see a blue color emerging from the background. I could be wrong though.
Also, I would like to say that this image is gorgeous, and your choice for color was excellent, but I also wonder what it would look like in black and white with just the hair and eyes in color.
As a Black male photographer I would like to offer some perspective and experiences I've come acoss. I would like to start a candid portrait series but I also have the same reservations from potential subjets as you face. Being that I'm not a woman, I can only speculate that it could be an appearance thing of wanting to look their best in a photo and when a girl has her everyday face even if she's natually beautiful she may not feel it would reflect in the photo. The subjects we shoot can't see what we see in them that makes us want to take their portrait. Or it could be that most women think its weird when a stranger approaches them with a camera to take their picture.

On the subject of "minorites" It's also an issue of trust and vanity as well. I have so many ideas of projects that I want to do that are unique to the Black perspective but I can't hardly get people to sign on. For ex. I would like to do a shoot in my barbershop that I have frequented for several years and these guys know I'm a photographer but when I mention pitcures they are like naw. And the worst is when I get requests to take portraits, usually by a woman of color, and when I try to set something up I always get excuses like "I need to get my hair done" or "I need to loose some weight first" like why ask if you're not ready. I've had people duck and cover from my camera, and all but run away screaming. It perplexes me too.
Lu Zeng
I'm a young woman of color (well, am I? the admissions committees don't think so), presumably in the prime of my physical beauty. I take a nauseating number of self-portraits, and sometimes share them with friends on social networking platforms; I sometimes dress provocatively, and walk out in public to be seen. I can throw out the reasons of 'low self-esteem' associated with age or weight, but will still likely refuse to have my portrait taken, and here's why.

Let's call my self-portraits and dramatic dressing 'one-hop objectification.' With 'one-hop objectification,' I know exactly who is looking at me: I can set the privacy settings on my albums and decide where I walk. I can post a photo of myself in pink with a fairy wand because I know my facebook friends know me as a human being as well: they remember me as the violist from from music camp, the SDE at internship whose toenails matched her running shoes, etc. My pink dress and fairy wand are not my only dimensions.

I am comfortable with one-hop objectification.

But if a photographer should ask to take my portrait? Not only is my face going to be first perceived through his lens, so that his aesthetics are projected onto me, but /only/ my face is going to be shared with his viewers. This is two-hop objectification. And in these two hops, my face reaches the photographer's viewers, who know nothing about me, and so, will see me for only those attributes that this photographer notes (remember -- his lens): a woman of color.

Here's the thing: I don't want to be seen for these attributes first. I don't want my face -- the feature that society holds as unique, the feature that makes portraiture such powerful art -- to be reduced to my race and gender, which are still bases for discrimination and discomfort in society. I suppose that g+ users know better than to make rude racial remarks, but I wouldn't know where else the photographer displays her photos. My face could increment the world's net count of racial slurs and shallow views, since most people don't know how to relate to a Chinese woman in any other way. Having had children in shopping carts pull up the corners of their eyes and shout "Ching ching chong," their mothers unfazed all the while, I'd rather not subject my likeness to the chance of eliciting these sorts of remarks.

Two-hop objectification? No, thanks. Not unless you gave me reassurance about your audience and involved me in my portrayal.

Finally: How is this different for white males? Vastly fewer people look at a gentleman's portrait and say, "What a lovely face. Lovely Scotch-Irish features, blended with just a bit of a Germanic brow." Even if they were to, the statement is stigma-free, since society doesn't discriminate based on these attributes anymore. It's not necessary that all white males should enjoy having their portrait taken: they just have fewer systematic reasons to refuse.
what a fabulous number of good responses.

I personally would love to have some good photographer take my photo. Usually my husband takes shots of me and he just shoots a bunch knowing I'll through a bunch of them away. It is humbling watching myself age.

Sometimes i'll shoot at an event. I never post a photo that doesn't show some inner beauty of the subject and I always let them know where the collection can be viewed. I always honor a request to remove a photo. Since these are people that are acquaintances I find it easier to do that than ask permission in the first place.

I never have the courage to go up to a stranger and ask to take their portrait. If a stranger asked me out of the blue, I'd have a few reservations as to "why do you want my photo".
basically it depends on how it is used some people like to use photos to harass otherwise decent people there loved ones or even people who look similar to them mostly for the wrong reasons
if you paint, then they won't want to stand still. if you use a camera, then they're camera shy. at least, that's for the kids at my school...
I once told a taxi driver about a drunk who was very concerned that I would not be able to 'pick blokes up because I was so ugly'. Haven't we made life so superficial? I found it very funny was in the pitch dark!
2 points -
1) ugly people like me are lucky because we do not have to look at ourselves, I look at you and you tell me you are beautiful! much for beholders!
2) if I am ugly in the dark what am I in the light?
b) where does intelligence fit into this? perhaps it is the people at the top who are stupid if they think the only people worth employing, listening to, etc are beautiful rather than clever?
c) I did not tell the drunk in the middle of the road at 1am in the morning
that when I pick anything up I bend my knees ...he was so drunk I think he may have misunderstood me!!
I told him he was very observant!
I detest having my photo taken... I think having learnt (or perceived) that the camera simply does not like me I tend to try and avoid. As a result there are very few photos of me I actually like. I've no doubt though, that my learnt response of disliking cameras probably has me subconsciously striking some un-photogenic pose, making the problem self-proving!! :)
She is very beautiful and colour is the best representation! Excellent Mike! Very interesting.
i feel the same way, i tend to get camera shy. your not alone brother!
I, too, do not like having my picture taken. For me, though, I think it is a matter of having no control. That said, I haven't even attempted a self portrait yet, for many other reasons. My social media avatar is a picture my five year old took of me last fall, and it is one of the only pictures of me I like. I find it interesting that only she has been able to capture me (off guard, I might add) in an image I'm comfortable with.
Portraits? Hmmm. My problem is that the photographer always has trouble locating my good side ... and ends up with a tripod over his head

I look good in a 50x50 pixel icon on the comments page though :-/
Because pictures they take of me are never as good as the picture you posted.
Too self conscious especially if she isn't prepared. Vanity would be a safe bet too. (with the ethnic minorities- im not so sure) With that said, love this portrait and how you managed to capture her beauty.
Beautiful Portrait of Sophie! +Mike Shaw Women are very shy about the way they look, and do not think they are attractive, for one, two, three or more reasons. They are always trying to improve their looks!
Beautiful young woman and outstanding portrait! I so admire photographers who do a portrait and give me the real person as you've done here! It's an art and a craft and it's absolutely beautiful!!
If a stranger came up to me and asked to take my picture I would react with "Why?" If s/he could establish believable credentials and reasons I can buy into, I might agree. I don't generally like photos of myself because I never look like I see myself and photos never represent who I am. But if a professional photographer thought I had an interesting face, sagging skin and waddle and wrinkles and all, then, yes. The difference between pros and snapshots is immense.

I would have concerns over where the image would appear and how I would be identified, the trust issues mentioned by others here, and if s/he turned it into a coffee table book with a section called "Ugly Old Women" and put me in it, I'd be crushed but I would recover because that's just someone's perception and doesn't define who I am.
I'm not very photogenic - and I absolutely hate how the camera adds on the pounds. Very few people were able to take photos of me where I recognize myself, and this is probably a result of being very small, so most angles result with me as dumpy and bloated; but when I look in the mirror I don't look like that at all!

I suspect that this is why a lot of women don't like it - not because we don't resemble the airbrushed women on magazines, but rather because most photos taken of us are the worst possible ones. My loved ones - the kiddies and daddy, are very photogenic and nearly any snap I take of them with my point and shoot camera looks great.
1. Beautiful photo.

2. I find this statement funny, "I approach and ask the same questions I do for everyone else." Said another way, "I approach and ask the same questions I do for white men." Maybe the answer is just that you need to ask different questions or say different things to women and non-white men? I think some of the people above have hit on some of the answers.

3. For me, well, I'd probably say yes to anyone, because I don't mind having my picture taken and I know it's hard to get people to pose. But the photos I'd actually want to see later are from photographers I'd trust to do something interesting with it. I don't have to look beautiful or young necessarily, but I want the picture to say something. I'd certainly trust you to take an interesting photo. I kind of like taking self portraits because I have full control over the process to make myself look how I want and make the photo say what I want to say.
Modesty/vanity to whatever degree might have something to do with it.
Loving the portrait, and I had no idea those groups had higher refusal rates... The sociology of photography is such a weird and complex topic.
Sophie looks as though she smiles a lot and is just struggling slightly to hold in a big grin. And; glad you chose colour for this one Mike, Sophie has great eyes.

Personally I also hate having my photo taken, I'm just not photogenic, too animated in my expressions and always end up looking like a demented twat. I tried changing my profile pic yesterday ... it lasted all of 2 seconds.
+Birgitte Roel Your calling me a pervert because I asked to take her photograph, I also asked her male companion for his too, does that make me gay? As for permission I told them both about putting images on line and both were OK with it, she was hesitant as she does not like having he photograph taken not because of who was taking the image. If you take some time out from your tirade and looked at the rest of this gallery you will find it comprises of both men and women, more men and the majority are over a certain age. Get your facts right before you decide to call others perverts.
One misinformed and out of line comment +Mike Shaw by an ignorant person.
You have 200 positive comments, this being one of those.
You have tremendous talent and an ability to care enough about your subject to be sensitive of their vulnerabilities.
Me? I have awful self esteem issues and having my photograph taken makes me feel very self conscious and shy. I have yet to have a photograph taken of me where I would be satisfied that it looked okay. Ageing does have something to do with it as well.
I have to be honest, I was overwhelmed with the amount of comments on this post so I have definitely not read them all, and apologise now if some one else has already said this.
I loathe having my photo taken. In every photo I have ever had taken of me I look weird, bizarre and grumpy. That is professional photo's that I have paid for as well as photo's of me taken at events etc.
I have been told by all and sundry that it is not just me, it is not because I see me differently, other people also see the difference and agree that I am most definitely not in the least bit photogenic.
That said, the avatar I am using is the only photo I have ever met of me that I have ever seen that I have been willing to share.
The reason I have been told that I take a sucky photo, is that I am too guarded. Irony of irony, the avatar shot? It is my first attempt at a self portrait.
Maybe this comes from nothing more complex than that guard we all have when meeting new people and not knowing who or what they are and the reluctance that is automatic about sharing too much?
Much like this post >.< .............:D
PS: As always +Mike Shaw wonderful capture :) I am glad for you that she agreed to pose.
It's been fascinating to read the responses here +Mike Shaw, not least because so many who appear perfectly photogenic and attractive in their G+ avatar are reporting feelings of self-esteem or not being attractive around cameras.

I wonder if many of us share the "oh they're all fine, but I'm clearly not..." as a point of view. Like I said above I feel self conscious and ugly with cameras around, and I now wonder even more if that feeling is simply what's coming across looking at photos of me.

Probably be an interesting topic for research.
Simple answer....I hate my looks with a vengence! Being married to Mike you would think he would have lots of photos of me but he doesn' being I am not a worthy character piece (I am not young, pretty or an old man) and another is that I really do hate myself and how I look.
I don't know who is the girl but her eyes are so much alike Jude S., and they both irradiate an inside beauty that seems to do not fade with time :-)
Said this on the other site but will say it here too:

I hate, hate, hate having my portrait taken. I think I have only ever like 2 or 3 formal portraits (and I use the term 'formal' loosely) take of me. I usually always think that the portraits taken of me fail to capture how I see myself (which is a whole other story, right?) and thus look totally flawed.

Apologies for not reading though the thread fully before commenting

I don't know if someone's already brought it up but many of the aboriginal people of Australia (and in other cultures) are still concerned that the image captures a part of their soul, understandable, because when done well (as many of your images have shown us) we get a clear glimpse into the essence of that person & the life they live.

I think many people are afraid of being judged, objectified or used. I'll confess to having mixed emotions when discovering a photographer had taken my photo without my knowledge & hung it on his wall. In the end it turned out to be a wonderful blessing that I'll be forever grateful for.

Keep asking, it's wonderful to be asked & respected. After all, we refer to photography as taking a picture for a reason. Some people are just unaware of how much an image can give back. :)
i wonder if it has anything to do with judgements about appearance +Mike Shaw , something women and different ethnicities are more subject to.
Hey Mike i always am following your photos . this is really beautifull & with your skill you have made it look more beautifull
I think the issues lies in our own perceptions of ourselves, or in certain cases here misconception of ourselves, men I find are just simply comfortable with themselves, more so when they reach a certain age (IE as old as me) so having our images taken means little in the every day things of life. Women for some reason see themselves as something less than they should be. For that I think we can lay the blame on the advertising industry and the flawed image of perfection they manufacture. Of all those here that said they did not like having their images taken I see nothing wrong with the images on show here. You need to simply believe in yourselves a bit more.

As for the ethnic minorities I think that is down to suspicion and society in general has a lot to answer for in regards to that.
Personally I don't care a whole lot if people take my picture but do mind if they try to be cruel and this especially to others.
Her eyes are glowing....i cannot stop looking at them! Beautiful photo!
I am definitely part of the group XD
I can't stand "posing" for the photographer, I'm not able to smile on purpose and always end with some sort of grimace or my eyes closed :D
Are her eyes really amber coloured or is there some processing done ?
No words mike she is beautifull...and u r a amazing photographer...
man, you do great portraits and then all of a sudden this pops out; I mean, what the hell, where are her skin pores? does she have glass eyes, with not a single vein? it's an overused word, but this is photoshopped or lightroomed waay too much
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