Unless you’re a professional model, my guess is sometimes you don’t feel entirely comfortable in front of a camera all of the time. Guess what? I used to be right there with you. I always preferred being behind the camera instead of being in photographs, because I always disliked the way pictures of me would turn out.
The good news is, professional photographers know how to make you look your best by helping you pose in a way that is flattering to you! The even better news: you can take these tips home with you and utilize this newfound knowledge at your next homecoming dance, bridal shower, or wherever pictures might be taken that will inevitably end up tagged on Facebook.
Here are a few of the things I tell my clients to help them strike the perfect pose.
Don’t face the camera square on. Especially for women, the straight on view is not the most flattering look. You know the saying “the camera adds ten pounds”? Whoever first said that probably tried to face the camera head-on. Positioning your body at an angle to the camera is more inviting and more flattering. Try placing one foot further back from the camera and sink your weight onto that foot, while bending the knee of the foot in front slightly.
For women, a hand on the hip or waist can also break up that straight line and add curves.
For men, it’s a little easier to get away with the straight-on look, but angling juuuust slightly away from the camera is good as well. You can also try facing the camera, but leaning your weight slightly more to one side than the other.
Do something with your hands… The fastest way to look awkward in a photo is to stand there with your hands hanging at your sides. Put them in your pockets, cross them, touch something near you, put a hand on the hip, put your arm around your buddy, find something to hold, anything. In photography, we have a rule that goes something like this: “If it bends, bend it.” That definitely applies for arms and hands.
…but don’t clench them. Keep your hands free of tension and fingers light. Curled up hands look really awkward in photos. Pretend you’re touching something really delicate and don’t want to hurt it.
Think about your lines. If you’ve ever been a dancer, you know what I mean by this. When a photographer talks about your lines, they are talking about the “flow” of your body, especially accomplished through your arms and your legs. Traditionally speaking, for women, you want to achieve long, graceful lines; for men, you want to achieve more hard-hitting and strong lines, although these are not hard and fast rules.
One way to achieve longer lines is to point your toes – wearing heels automatically helps with this, but it also helps to pop your back heel off the ground as if you’re just about to take a step with it. If you’re sitting, try not to pull your legs back under you; try to make them as long as possible.
Finally, smile like you mean it! Remember what Tyra always says… smile with your eyes! To nail your perfect facial expression, think of something that makes you really, truly happy. If you’re starting to feel your smile becoming forced after a few shots, take a short break and relax. It’s easy to tell the genuine smiles in photographs from the forced ones.
For closeups, the same rules apply to faces as they do to bodies: don’t face the camera dead-on. Give the camera at least a slight angle on your face, up to three-quarters. (Practice in the mirror to see which side is your better one.) Most of the time, people in photographs tend to dip their chin a little too much when smiling – bring your chin back up just a little bit to lengthen your neck for a more flattering look.
Now that you know the basics of how to look your best in any photograph, you can say goodbye to “untagging” all those pictures that end up floating around on the internet. These principles can be applied in endless combinations to create any pose you want, so practice and experiment, and enjoy your improved photos!
What are your favorite tips for looking great in pictures? Let us know in comments below!