Contrary to popular belief, being photogenic is not something you’re born with; it’s a skill you can practice and learn- just like riding a bike or playing the ukulele. When it comes to looking good in photos, it’s the littlest tricks that have the biggest impact. Check out these tips you can implement right away to feel more confident in front of the camera. Remember, we all have a face we default to when someone points a camera at us. Practicing these tips in front of a mirror, as silly as it sounds, can really help you change that automatic default face into the best possible version of you.
1. POSING: While I often consider “pose” one of the worst four-letter-words, working on composing your best posture really goes a long way towards showing confidence in your photos. Try these 5 steps while looking in a full-length mirror:
STEP 1: Stand up straight and lift your head. You’ll notice slouching is exaggerated even more in photos. Do this by imagining a string running through you, pulling upwards.
STEP 2: Arch your back slightly and pull your bellybutton in. This will automatically bring your chest up and your shoulders back. Already you’re starting to look more confident!
STEP 3: Bring one shoulder closer to the mirror (or camera) and step back slightly with the opposite foot. If you bring your left shoulder forward, step back slightly with your right foot, and vice versa.
STEP 4: Shift all of your weight to that back leg. Let the knee of your opposite leg (the one closest to the camera) bend naturally. Now pop your hip out just a bit to give your body that celebrity “S Curve” look.
STEP 5: Let your arms relax at your sides and bent at the elbow. Be sure there’s separation between your arms and your body; this is will automatically slim your upper arms.
2. IF IT BENDS, BEND IT. Keeping in line with what we just learned about posing, any body part that can bend (elbows, knees, wrists…), should bend. This is something I was told in photography school over and over again regarding natural posing and it’s completely true. Bending your joints allows you to look more relaxed and less static. Hands often come across especially weird in photographs, avoid this by relaxing your fingers and bending your wrists. Putting your hands in your pockets is a great default if you have pockets and can’t think of anything else to do. If you don’t have pockets, are sitting down, or just want to try something else, try loosely touching your thumb to your middle finger, as if you were going to snap them.
3. DOUBLE TROUBLE: Double chins can happen to any of us, no matter our size or shape; it all comes down to head position. Many of us automatically pull our necks back when we laugh or smile, which basically erases the jaw, thickens the neck, and looks extremely unflattering. Try this instead: make sure your shoulders are back and your posture is good. Now, push your forehead out toward the camera (you should feel a stretch right at the base of your neck, ) and tilt your chin slightly downward while looking directly into the lens. It’s probably going to feel weird and forced, but as I mentioned before, this is something you can practice so that it becomes habit. The more you practice, the more relaxed you’ll feel when you do it.
4. CLOTHES AND FIT MATTER: Tailored or slimmer clothes are going to photograph better. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a size 00 or 20, as long as the clothes aren’t binding (you should be able to breathe, bend and sit) form-fitting is almost always better. Solids generally photograph better than patterns, however black or navy stripes are also a favorite. Wear all one color if you want to elongate the body. Women, wearing nude heels with a dress or skirt is also great if you want to lengthen the look of your legs. Men, if you’re wearing a suit, be sure it is properly tailored. Loose pants and over or under-sized jackets will ruin a look instantly. Wearing a cool statement necklace or a fun tie are great ways to show your personality and bring the focus up towards your face.
5. HAPPY PEOPLE ARE PRETTIER: It’s true! When you’re laughing or smiling, you automatically look more attractive to others. Even if you have nothing specific to smile or laugh at, remember what Tyra Banks taught us: just fake it until you make it! Try this: look away from the camera and give a big laugh. It’s great to have a friend there with you to help with this, but even if you’re alone and it’s your most ridiculous fake laugh, that’s OK. (As a matter of fact, sometimes that makes it even better.) Now just as you’re coming down from that laugh, look back directly into the camera. As if by magic, this will capture your most realistic smile. Technically, it’s called residual laughter. Snapping that moment right after you stop really laughing, when the thoughts of what was so funny still linger, that’s going to capture your most genuine smile.
6. WHY SO SERIOUS: Finally, the very best advice I can think to give is this: Don’t take yourself too seriously, just try to relax and have fun. Because, like I always say: You don’t have to act like you’re having fun if you’re actually having fun.