When I first started doing wedding photography, I also started receiving requests to shoot boudoir…
As a professional photographer that services the Raleigh – Durham and Chapel Hill, NC areas, it’s my job to make sure my clients look their best at all times. I will pick the best lighting, poses, angles, etc. to really make sure you stand out and help you look fabulous in photos too!
But if you aren’t using a professional photographer, if you’re just out with your friends and someone wants to snap a photo of the group of you, or if you’re wanting to take a selfie of you with the latte art your barista crafted, you need to consider how to make sure you look great even when a professional photographer isn’t directing, posing, or angling the camera for you.
Here are a few simple steps to make sure every photo that is taken of you is the best it can be.
1. Study photos of yourself.
Everyone has one side that just looks tends to photograph better. This is the case for even celebrities, people who are stunningly beautiful from whatever angle. Mariah Carey, for example, only likes to be photographer from her right side.
Look at the photos you like the most of yourself. Try to figure out if there’s a pattern to which photos you tend to look better in and why. Pay attention to what side it was taken on and the angle of the shot. Then, work on recreating those in the future.
If you tend to have a double chin in photos, have your tongue touch the roof of your mouth and then suck in. This will naturally pull up your “double” chin area. You can also pull up your neck and tip it slightly forward to do away with it too.
If you seem to always blink at the wrong time, close your eyes directly before the photo is taken, so you’re less likely to close it while the photo is being taken.
If you tend to clench up because you’re nervous and lock your body or your hands/arms in weird poses, take a deep breath right before the photo is taken and focus on relaxing, OR see if someone can get you to laugh. Your body will then look more natural.
Once you’ve figured out something that works for you, actually practice in front of the mirror. This may seem like a silly step, but if you’re wanting to look fantastic in all of your photos, it’ll need to be engrained enough to be like muscle memory. As soon as you know a picture is going to be taken, you know how to pose your face, your arms, legs, etc.
Likely you’ll have a few poses/angles that look flattering, so take time to try each of them multiple times in front of the mirror. Get a feel for which ones you like the most. Remember too that slightly angling your body often makes you look slimmer, so consider trying that as well.
Try different types of smiles too in each. See if you prefer your mouth closed or open. Figure out what smile you like best and commit to using that in all of your photos from now on.
3. Make sure you look the best.
Whether you’re a guy or girl, there are certain things you can do to help make sure you look the best in photos.
For all genders, and no matter how you identify yourself, consider what types of clothing and colors work best for your body shape and skin tone. Close fit (not too tight) pieces look good on most people as long as they’re the right size. Neutral colors, like white, grey, navy, and black, also tend to complement most skin tones.
If you struggle with what to get, consider going into a store whose clothing you like and asking a salesperson. They can help direct you to styles that would work for you and can let you know once you try something on if it’s a hit or not.
Also try to avoid patterns. They can distort how your body looks in photos. If you want to have one, select it for a minor item of clothing, like a blouse or button-down that you’re wearing a jacket or cardigan over, or for an accessory, like a tie, hat, necklace, or belt. When in doubt, pick solid colors.
For hair, keep it simple and shiny. You want to avoid hair that appears disheveled, frizzy, or greasy, so make sure hair looks clean and to use products like pomade to tame flyaways.
For women, volume is better. You can encourage volume right before a photo is taken by turning your head upside down and then bringing it back up with your hands.
4. Get some good makeup going
Lastly, the right kind of makeup can go a long way for photos, and you do have to think about makeup differently when you know you’re going to be photographed. If you struggle with applying make-up, consider going to your local beauty store and working with a consultant to get trained on tips specifically for photos. Many also offer classes for total beginners.
Since photography is a two-dimensional image, you need to focus on wearing makeup that defines and contours your face. Stick with matte foundation and powder as they cover better. Avoid glimmery or shimmery shades. You definitely need to wear blush at the apples of your cheeks.
Fill in your brows and know that eyeliner and either fake lashes or lashes covered with mascara will help make your eyes pop. For overall shades, stick with neutral colors. You can go with dark lipstick, but that can tend to make your lips look smaller, so a bright shade is better instead.
5. Think about your lighting.
Depending on your specific situation, you may not have a lot of control over the lighting, but here are some quick tips.
Don’t stand with your back to a major light source as you’ll be difficult to see. Don’t stand directly under a major light source either, as that’ll cast weird shadows on your face. Soft natural lighting usually also looks ways more attractive than fluorescent lighting.
It isn’t hard to look your best in photos, but it does take some time practicing and orienting yourself. Everyone can look good in photos, and I hope these tips help you!
Daniel Turbert is a philanthropist, president of a non-profit, and published photographer who runs a commercial photography studio near Chapel Hill, NC for headshots and fine art portraits.