The first time I ever appeared as Nate Berkus’s go-to photo expert, I asked the audience (who were 97% women ) to stand, and I taught them my three favorite, simple shifts to look thinner in photos.
1. Angle your body. You never want to stand face on to the camera because your body will look box shaped. No boxy moms in photos!
2. Lean In to the Camera. Check to see where your body weight is. Nine times out of ten, women put their body weight on their back foot — leaning away from the camera. This makes our heads look smaller and our shoulders look extra wide. Instead, we want to shift our weight to our front foot and lean in to the camera. (When I tell women this, they often express how uncomfortable it is to lean in to the camera… more on this in a second.)
3. Lift Your Chin. You want to lift your chin just a bit. This means the person taking the photo is going to need to get a little height on you so you can naturally lift your chin just a bit. They can stand on the curbside or a chair or have you sit. Why? This subtle lift of your chin gets rid of double (or triple) chins.
Nate and I demonstrated this for his audience over two years ago, and viewers still send me happy emails with photos of how much thinner and more confident they look. But there is also another response I’ve noticed.
On Mother’s Day Sunday, while speaking in Texas, I had fun by starting my talk with these three simple shifts. I couldn’t help but notice that leaning in to the photo is what seemed to be the most challenging part — not just for the women in TX but everywhere. It’s as if we fear that leaning in when our picture is being taken will only accentuate the things we don’t like about ourselves. Instead of leaning in to the camera, we lean away. We squish heads with friends, hide our body behind the kids, stand face on to the camera and do a bunch of other things that make us look ten times bigger than we are. Does anyone connect with what I’m saying? I couldn’t help but mull this around in my head, especially with the Lean In movement.
It’s like we want to either look picture perfect, or we are going to be in denial of being in the picture at all. And yet, life isn’t picture perfect.
Summer is a mom in El Segundo, CA. When I first met her, she told me that she often avoids the camera. But she wanted to change that. For most her life, she has had this belief that the moles freckling her body made her ugly. We had this wonderful conversation in her living room about true beauty, the lies we believe and how lies distort the truth.
As we filmed the episode, she wanted to embrace her moles and in turn, embrace herself. She was choosing to lean in to her photo being taken, not just physically but mentally too. And this mental shift made all the difference.
You can watch below how we found the window light in her bathroom to be the PERFECT place for her photo because the sunlight was bouncing off the white tub and casting this beautiful glow on her.
When I asked her to wear a spaghetti strap top so that we could see all her beautiful moles, the very detail her kids cherish about her, she gulped and went for it. Feeling her anxiousness, I had her close her eyes, relax the muscles in her face, center herself, and on the count of three look right into the camera. As you watch the video, consider how Summer’s natural, genuine beauty shines through as she decided to lean in to the photos being taken.
If you follow the three simple shifts above, you will look slimmer in photos. Guaranteed. But I keep thinking about this need to make a mental conscious shift to lean in to the camera. To no longer feel shame or embarrassment about your imperfections. And on the flip side, to no longer apologize for your gifts and talents. But to fully embrace all that you are and lean in to life, lean in to the camera, lean in to you.
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