People sometimes tell me “you’re so photogenic so it’s easy for you” but in reality, that’s far from the truth. In my short year of blogging, I’ve learned some tricks for looking my best in photographs. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve been taking mental notes and going with what works.
This post is in the hopes that we can get away from the “skinny arm” pose…yes we know what you’re trying to do and…no that’s not the only way to look decent in a photo. But we’ve all done it.
Without further ado…here are my 10 secrets to looking your best in photos.
Photography by Dave Mentzer
1. Hydrate. There’s nothing worse than looking tired and dehydrated in a photo. As I get older, I notice my skin looks plumper, my eye bags disappear, and the whites of my eyes look brighter when I am properly hydrated. The night before a shoot, chug it. Or better yet, always chug it. My goal is to drink 100 ounces of water a day. That’s about 3 liters.
2. Wear More Makeup Than Normal. You can spend tons of time on a “no makeup” makeup look, but once you look at the photos you’re like, what?! It looks like I have NOTHING on. And that pisses me off. If you know you’re going to be taking photos, whether it is for a blog shoot, you’re in a friend’s wedding, engagement pics, or grandma’s 90th birthday, paint it on. Use more blush and bronzer than you think you need, and always always always add some color to your lips. I also recommend using a highlighter (this one is the bomb). The light will catch you face exactly where you want it to, and your face will look more structured.
3. Squinch. This is a tip my photographer Dave told me about. I had NO idea it was a thing, but I watched some videos (this one in particular) and it totally works. Basically, you pinch your lower eyelid and kind of squint. The idea is that opening your eyes too wide projects fear, while a relaxed squinch exudes confidence. If you look in the mirror and try, you can totally control your lower lid without furrowing your brow. It takes a lot of practice, though! I’m still working on it!
4. Know Your Good Side. When I’m out with my group of blogging friends and someone says “let’s take a photo!” there is an instant Chinese fire drill as everyone scrambles to get to a spot that reveals their “good side.” It’s miraculous and hilarious, but we all know it because we are used to being photographed. It’s part of our jobs.
While having a “good side” sounds like a myth, it is totally true. Well, unless you have an extremely symmetrical face. Have your bff or significant other take a couple pics of one side of your face, then the other. I promise that you will naturally gravitate towards one of the sides. If you want to know what I think my “good side” is, then take a look at my instagram. I’m facing the same direction in nearly all my photos.
5. Wear Form Fitted Clothing/Know The Silhouettes That Work For You. Your body’s natural shape wants to be revealed in a photograph. If I try to hide behind a lot of billowy fabric, it starts to look like a tent. If I am styling a poncho (which I love wearing) then I try to balance it out with a form fitting bottom. Otherwise I will end up looking like a blob.
In the same vein, get know the silhouettes that work for you. How can you do this? Go through some old photos of yourself and make a list of what you were wearing and if you liked the way the picture turned out. High neck? V-neck? Midi skirt? Mini skirt? It will help you learn your strengths and ideal silhouettes. For instance, the babydoll silhouette looks ridiculous on me. A v-neck tee is my ideal, rather than a scoop or boatneck.
6. Stand Up Straight. Stand up straight and arch your back. It will feel like you’re pushing out your chest too much, but it just feels that way. All too often I see people hunching forward in a group photo to try and be seen or because they are afraid they are blocking someone. Hunching will make you look larger and less confident. Stand up tall with your shoulders back to elongate everything.
7. Cheat To The Side. Here’s what I mean. Point one of your hips towards the person taking the photograph, then twist your torso to face them. Your feet should be facing about 10:00 or 2:00. I’m doing this in the first photo. The reason I do this is because a 100% frontal facing photo can make you appear wider and shorter. The twist allows you to stagger your feet, turn on your abs, and show yourself from a more flattering angle.
8. Arm Out. The “hand on the hip skinny arm pose” isn’t the only way to make your arms look great in a picture! Simply don’t press your arm into your body, to eliminate that “squish” effect. This is especially important for brides, as the bridal styles show a lot of arm. Push your arm out a little from your body while still relaxing your shoulders. It won’t look like you’re physically doing anything different, but the camera will thank you. If you have good control of your arm muscles, give them a little squeeze to activate your beautiful muscles.
9. Don’t Smile 100% With All Your Teeth. Sometimes a full on toothy grin is genuine and lovely. Like if you are laughing or caught in the moment. But oftentimes it can make your face look crumpled or make your top lip disappear. I try to only show my top teeth when I smile. I found that my top teeth are just enough to still count as a toothy grin. My friend Dani is really good at smiling just enough with her teeth so that she still looks sexy, but not cheesy.
10. Be Comfortable With Your Photographer & Think Happy Thoughts. Gelling with your photographer is as important as all of these tips combined. As I mentioned in my “1 year of blogging” post, my husband, Dan, shoots a lot of my photos (#husbandofglam). The reason so many of our photos turn out great is because I am really comfortable trying new poses, asking for different angles that suit me, and so on with him behind the camera. When I’m not in the mood, he will start joking about our cats, which always makes me happy and rolling with laughter. The same goes with my friend and photographer, Dave. He feels comfortable directing the shot, and I don’t feel stupid practicing my squinching. We can laugh about ridiculous things without feelings of insecurity, which I fully believe can ruin a photograph.
Ultimately, if you’re thinking happy thoughts (milkshakes, kittens, flowers, Paris…whatever makes you light up!) and you’re enjoying the company you’re with, I guarantee your photos will be stellar!
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