5 tips to make you look your best in every picture
So your friend just bought a camera, and they’re looking for models to practice on. You need a new profile picture, so you go along. You’re all dressed up, confident and ready to go for your fancy photoshoot. But as soon as the camera is pointed at you, you freeze. All these fancy pose ideas you had in your head have now disappeared, leaving you looking like a tree - and not a very alive one at that. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. Here are a few tips that will get you some professional-looking photos in no time.
It’s not just the photographer’s job to find the perfect lighting. You should think about it too if you want to look your best. Taking pictures in the sun is not usually a good idea. Natural light is our friend but strong sunlight can create harsh shadows on your face. This can be avoided by angling your face toward the sun, but that can make you squint and it really limits the pool of poses you can choose from. Choose to take your photos when it is overcast, or at sunrise and sundown. If you’re indoors, try to find a window.
Know your angles and body
We should all love and own our bodies and learn to work with what we got, without being overly critical. That goes for both life and modelling. Practice in the mirror and find out what your best side is (if you have one), what head tilts and facial expressions work better for you, and how to bring forth your best features and hide the ones you’re not so fond of. The same goes for body poses. Try different angles and show off those curves if you have them; find a pose that makes them look extra juicy and let it fill you with confidence – you can use a second mirror to see what your back looks like *wink wink*.
Don’t tighten your lips
Or any of your features, for that matter. If you’re feeling nervous and are not sure what to do with your face, don’t do anything. Relax your lips slightly open, and make sure you don’t open your eyes too much. Think about something that makes you happy, or sad, or nostalgic (whatever look/concept you’re going for). Thinking about real stuff will yield a real reaction. Try looking down for a second, and only look up and into the camera when you’re ready. The result will be more natural than if you’d been stuck in this pose for the last 5 minutes.
Bring your chin slightly forward and down. I know it feels extremely uncomfortable and unnatural, but it works like magic. Check out some famous actors’ headshots and you’ll see what I mean.
In portraits, the only tool you have to tell a story is your eyes. Use them. Smile with them. Flirt with them. Be cheeky with them. Look up, down, away or pierce the lense with them.
Don’t stand up straight
I know this goes against all of the advice received from parents, teachers and health professionals throughout our lives, and I will whip myself for that later, but perfect posture does not look good on pictures. That is not to say that you should slouch. No, you should engage your core and pull your shoulders back to start with. But feel free to sink into your back hip and maybe cross the other leg over. Then lean back or to the side to create the illusion of total relaxation and comfort (yes, an illusion it is). This also brings depth into the picture.
Create shapes with your body
Bend one leg and the opposite arm. Place the other arm on the wall, or run it through your hair, creating a triangle. Bring one shoulder forward and push the other one back. Shapes are interesting in all kinds of photography, and make the image come to life. They create the illusion of movement against a steady background, which can’t but grab your attention.
Make sure your hands aren’t stiff.
Just like your lips, your hands can give away your nervousness. Make sure your fingers are relaxed, fluid and separated, and let them fall naturally down your body or on the surface you’re using.
- Lift your arms from your body when the camera is aimed at them, as squeezing them against your side makes them appear larger. The same goes for thighs when you’re sitting down.
- Separate your legs and bring one of them forward. This pose makes your legs look longer and slimmer, but also brings a certain dynamic into the photo. It shows you’re grounded and you own the place, which makes for a great power shot. Plus there’s no better way to show off your new cool pair of pants.
- Don’t pose completely straight on. That tends to be unflattering for most of us. Try positioning yourself at a slight angle; you can still turn your head towards the camera.
3. Candid Shots
Have a good time, dance around, jump, turn, laugh. If the photographer is any good, they’ll have already made you comfortable enough for it to not feel weird, and they will capture some special moments.
Stage candid shots
Ideally, the fun you had above made for some wonderfully candid moments that you will print on polaroid and treasure forever.
But, if you’re out of inspiration, the photographer isn’t directing you or everything you do looks wrong, you can always stage a candid shot. You know these wonderfully candid photos you see and admire on Instagram? Most of them are not actually candid. But you know this already.
So…pretend you’re walking (up or down steps does wonders), being called by someone, thinking about life while staring into the distance. Fake laughing also looks great in photos. Fake smiling, however, does not, so steer clear.
4. Get inspired
Take a closer look at the photos of people you like on social media, and try to figure out what it is you like about them. Is it the way they’re looking (or not looking) into the lense? Is it their posture? Is it the different shapes their body makes? Or is it the way in which they interact with the background and photographer? Found it? Now try to recreate it for your photos.
5. Have a look at the results
Assuming this is not a professional shoot and you’re not overstepping, there’s no harm in checking out the shots that have been captured. Ask to have a quick skim, so you can see if what you pictured in your head has translated onto the screen. See what’s working and what’s not, and try and correct it.