Many of us hate being in front of the camera. The best way to look good is to be natural, but that can be so difficult when you’re super-aware of that lens, and fearful of the results. Remember your photographer has a vested interest in bringing out the beauty in you! A good photographer will help you to relax by engaging with you and giving you some suggestions. These won’t necessarily just be poses: they might also get you to DO something, so that you can focus on the activity rather than standing there feeling like a plonker.
Usually, a client will require a mixture of “gosh, I didn’t even know the camera was there” photos (at least that’s what we aim to suggest :-)) and photos where the subject is directly engaged with the camera. If you’re one of those people who feel you always look bad in the second type of photo, read on...
1. EXPRESSION: An authentic smile makes for a much more flattering photo than an empty one. Try to think of something funny (don’t be afraid to laugh a bit), and smile with your eyes. You might like to look away and then look back to the camera just before the photo: the longer the smile has been there the more wooden it will appear. Try imagining the camera is someone you love - sounds silly but it works! You don't always need to smile of course, but engage meaningfully with the camera - try not to look distracted.
2. POSTURE: Listen to your mother! Sit or stand up straight: don’t slouch.
3. DIAPHRAGM: Breathe normally. Exhale just before the shot to relax your face and body. Breathing in can raise your shoulders slightly. If you hold your breath you’ll look tense (or asphyxiated).
4. FEET: Being at a slight angle to the camera tends to be more flattering than a front-on shot. Position one foot in front of the other, swivel your hips, and turn feet slightly away from the camera to narrow and lengthen your image.
5. HANDS: Point them down around the edges of your hips to make that area look smaller. Full-length, relaxed hands look far more elegant than bunched fingers: avoid letting your fingers curl up to your palms so that they disappear from view. If you're a couple, think body language - guys, avoid Dangling Groom Arm and put that hand on her hip!
6. FACE: To avoid looking as if you have a double chin, straighten your neck, relax your shoulders, then push your chin out and slightly downward. If it helps, you can imagine there’s a rope pulling your chin toward the camera (don’t overdo it though!)
7. TONGUE: A model’s advice: Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth as you smile to relax facial muscles and (further) avoid the double chin.
8. ARMS: If you’re worried about ‘sausage press’, rather than rest your arms against your torso, hold them very slightly away and angle them back (or cover up with a shawl or sleeves).
9. DRESS: Solid, dark colours are the most slimming. Dipping necklines are usually flattering too. You will probably have a good idea of what clothes suit you. Try to avoid heavy patterns and logos, as these distract attention away from the face.
10. TOUCH-UPS: If there are aspects of your appearance you would like subtly improved (for example blemish removal, teeth whitening, skin softening...), don’t be afraid to ask about it. Photoshop is an amazing tool, and in the hands of the right person you will still absolutely look like you (only better!).