The number one question I get asked as a photographer is “Can you make me look good?” No matter what country I’m in, whether I’m doing a corporate or travel shoot, I almost always get asked this question.
While there’s plenty of debates about pursing your lips and tilting your head, here’s the lowdown from a professional photographer: how to really look good in photos. (And yes, if you’re on my shoot, I’ll do my best to make you look good!)
1. Know your natural face pose
Some people are naturally smiley, some people are naturally serious. I look terrifying if I pull a serious face in a photo (you really don’t want to see my passport photo). Some people are lucky enough to look good pulling both poses. Practice in the mirror to find out which one you are. Chances are, you naturally gravitate to the best pose.
2. Raise your chin
Tilt your chin slightly up, but not enough to look haughty. Your nose shouldn’t be stuck up in the air! This prevents having a double chin.
3. Shoot from above
No one looks good from below. NO ONE. Even the slightest raise of the camera can make your face look thinner and more defined.
4. Face towards the windows
If you face towards the natural light coming from a window, it will blow out wrinkles because there are no harsh shadows. If you stand side on to a window, it creates harsh shadows which will accentuate facial lines.
5. Don’t stand with your back to a light source
Likewise, don’t stand in front of a window or light source, unless you want to look like you’ve landed in a UFO. Most cameras and phones will expose for the bright light, and you’ll either appear as a dark silhouette or that you’ve come from a very glowy place.
6. Don’t take photos in direct sunlight
Hisssss! DAYLIGHT! Direct sunlight causes strong shadows and squinting. Stand in the shade to take a photo. This is why overcast days are perfect for portrait photography as they have soft diffuse light.
I can tell if a model or subject is tense in a photo by looking at their neck and mouth muscles. Relax those lips, don’t purse them together like you’ve just eaten a lemon. Likewise for the neck, if you’re straining there, your neck muscles will look tense. A good way to relax is to chat with the person taking the photo. If I’m on a shoot, I’m always chatting away with the people I’m taking pictures of, cracking jokes and making them feel comfortable.
8. Don’t be embarrassed by your teeth
Another thing I commonly see is people being embarrassed about their teeth. I get it, teeth can be a sensitive issue, and if I notice a subject is reluctant to show their teeth I don’t force them to smile. If you’re getting a professional photographer to take your headshot or photo, let them know at the start so you aren’t put in an uncomfortable situation, especially in a group shot. Whatever you do, don’t purse your lips to hide your teeth. Keep your face in a neutral, closed mouth position.
9. Don’t take photos front on
Tilt your body 45 degrees to the camera. Hands on hips can accentuate the waist. Tuck your back leg behind your front leg, twisting the toe towards the camera. Tilt your head towards the camera without moving your body. Voila! Total star pose.
10. Don’t slouch or slump
Slouching can collapse the stomach area and give you rolls that aren’t really there. It also doesn’t project confidence. This is especially good advice if you’re sitting down when you’re having your photo taken. Sit up straight, shoulders back.
11. Be yourself
The last advice I’ll give is to share your personality on camera. If you’re a bit quirky, be quirky. If you’re serious, that’s totally fine too. Stay authentic and people will connect with you on camera.