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I’m usually the one taking all the photographs. Rarely am I in them.
However, I was recently photographed in a posed group photo with a few girlfriends. And 2 things about myself quickly came to mind:
#1. I should have stood in the back row!
I’m tall and a few pounds over my ideal weight right now, so not only did I look like a giant compared to the other (much shorter) girls in the photo, but I also looked much wider because of the way I was standing for the group shot.
#2. I wish I owned body slimming undergarments!
What a difference a little spandex would make! So I immediately invested in a cute little cami made with 30% Spandex for the upper half. And I’m even thinking of trying a pair of SPANX for the lower half. I’ve heard great things about SPANX Super Higher Power shapewear, and they’re highly rated by Consumer Reports & ShopSmart magazine as well. They say SPANX will help you look 10 pounds slimmer in photos. (By the way, they make men’s shapewear too.)
It’s the biggest name in shapewear for a reason. These instant slimmers took a full inch off everything between the waist and thighs of our volunteers — without pain, bulges, or making them look like stuffed sausages.—ShopSmart magazine editor
In addition to simply being conscious of how I’m standing, which way I’m looking, and how I’m smiling for photos from now on, this one bad photo experience sent me on a quest to find some “expert” tips that help you look your best in photographs.
The fact that there are so many people sharing tips for looking better in photos — as evidenced by all of the hyperlinks below — shows that I’m clearly not the only one who thinks this way. (Whew!) And if you’re reading this, then you must have your own personal reasons for wanting to look better in photos too.
Following are some of my favorites. Pick & choose the ones that apply to your own trouble spots.
How To Look Great In Pictures
Let’s face it, photos are a huge part of our lives these days.
From Facebook albums to scrapbook albums, we are all taking and sharing more photos than ever before. And this means that most of us are appearing in more photos as well.
Who doesn’t want to look great in photos?!…
These tips will come in handy any time you’re asked to pose for a photo. They’re particularly useful if you’re:
- attending or participating in a wedding, graduation, or some other party
- taking photos for blogs, websites, scrapbooks, or photo books
- trying to attract a partner via an online dating site
- posing for holiday photos
By reviewing the following tips, you will have a better sense of the little things that make a big difference in how someone looks in photographs.
How To Make Your Body Look Better In Photos
- Don’t square up your feet and body to the camera. Shift them slightly. Ideally, you should lean slightly back with your weight on your rear foot and angle one hip forward, then relax. TIP: Stand with your upper body directly facing the camera, then angle your lower half about 45 degrees and put one foot slightly back, centered with your spine. Point your toe to the camera and place your weight on your back foot.
- Gaps are the key to how wide you appear. That’s why it’s important not to stand squarely facing the camera with your arms by your side. Example: to make your upper arms appear smaller, hold them away from your body a little bit (hold a drink or some other prop, put one hand on your hip or in your pocket, or interact with someone else in the photo).
- Unless you want to look wider than you are, try not to pose with both arms stretched around the people beside you.
- Stretch your body a bit to look taller and leaner, rather than slouching. Notice where you’re shoulders are, then subtly roll them back and push them down. TIP: My friends always shout, “Boobies out, bellies in!” before each photo.
- When standing, instead of naturally pushing your booty out, bring it in (tuck it under) while tightening your stomach muscles at the same time. This will alleviate the illusion of belly bulge.
- In a group photo, position yourself closest to the larger people, rather than the smaller people.
- Don’t wear bright colors, crazy patterns or horizontal stripes. Avoid all black (or dark) attire, and white can make you look washed out. Neutral colors and jewel tones look best.
How To Make Your Face Look Better In Photos
- Drop your shoulders as far down and back as is comfortable, then move your whole head forward and angle it slightly (tilting your head makes you look more attractive) as if you’re trying to touch the camera with your forehead. TIP: If you lower your front shoulder slightly at the same time, you will create more dynamic angles and elongate your neck.
- Firm up your jawline and minimize a double chin by slightly rotating your body to the right while looking left with your face. TIP: If you turn your head slightly to the side and look straight ahead, you will appear to be looking straight at the viewer of the photo no matter the viewing angle (like George Washington on the dollar bill).
- Don’t look directly at the camera. Instead, look above or below the camera.
- Turn your head 2/3rds to one side, rather than facing the camera head-on. This will make your face look slimmer.
- Push your chin slightly out toward the camera to stretch your neck and avoid a double-chin. TIP: Press the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. This pulls your double chin up!
- Make sure that your smile leads to a reaction with your eyes. That’s where your true personality appears. So smile with your eyes or squint slightly (as if you’re being sly, or you’re up to something). TIP: To express yourself through your eyes, think positive thoughts or just bring energy into your gaze using a smile trigger.
- Laugh so you’ll have a more natural smile, and leave a gap between your lips — just enough to breathe. TIP: For the most natural smile, think of a happy memory or the last good meal that you ate — rather than saying “Cheese!” or whatever the photographer asks you to say. (“Money!” is a good word to say because the strong E sound makes the corners of your mouth go up.)
- To avoid blinking, ask the photographer to count to 3. Then, close your eyes and breathe in. Then, when you slowly open your eyes on 3, breathe out, and smile. You’ll be less likely to blink, your face will look relaxed, and your smile will be natural.
- Linger a few extra seconds after the shutter is pressed — just in case the photographer decides to immediately press it again. (Most photographers try to capture a natural, candid shot immediately after each super-posed shot.)
- Don’t let the photographer shoot looking up at you or you’ll have a double chin and look much heavier. Instead, make sure the camera is at your eye level or slightly higher.
- Don’t get too close to the camera. If your face is farther away from the camera and the camera zooms in, then your face will be flatter and look more natural. However, if your face is closer to the camera and the photographer zooms out, then you get a near fisheye effect. This makes your nose look bigger and your ears look smaller — a very unnatural look.
- Aim for outdoor photos in the morning or before sunset when the light is softer and more flattering. Photos taken at high noon or with a flash can illuminate your minor flaws, whereas at dusk the sun casts less shadow downward — so you don’t end up with bags under your eyes. Instead, the sun lights up the area under the eyes and makes you look younger. Yes, even cloudy days are great for photos.
- Try this trick: put your arms in a position such that you’re holding a 6-foot submarine sandwich in both of your outstretched hands. This makes your neck and chest area look less broad.
Finally, if you really want to look great in photos, then it’s worth it to practice posing for photos. You might want to do this when no one else is looking, or you may find it more helpful to have someone actually take photos of you. After all, the proof is in the pudding.
It’s helpful to know which side of your face is your best side. You can determine this either by looking at other photos that you’re in, or by staring at your face in the mirror. Usually it’s the side your hair is parted on, but if you’re unsure then turn to the right and show off your left cheek in photos — because it’s sexier.
Once you find the pose that works best for you, stick with it.
That way, you won’t look stiff and unprepared when future photos are taken. You’ll always look your best!
(Or, just stand in the back row… like I did here:)
Other Interesting Tips For Looking Great In Photos
- Why You Look Different In Photos Than You Do In The Mirror
- 5 Tips For Better Self-Portraits
- How To Look Good In A School Yearbook Photo
- 10 Easy Ways To Look Prettier In Photos
I'm a Photographer who's been documenting every moment of my life in pictures… for decades! I currently have 171,285 photos saved in 6,034 albums online (backed up in 3 different locations). Pet Photography and Travel Photography are my favorites — I'm always taking pictures of our dogs at home and of us on our multi-day motorcycle trips. When I'm not snapping photos, you can find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).