18 Tips for Looking Great in Photos

A lot of people tell me that I’m photogenic. It’s a lovely compliment, but really I just know how to pose. I studied photography in college and my first job out of school was as a photographer at Glamour Shots. Both experiences gave me ample experience both in front of and behind the camera and I was able to learn how to look better on film. Check out this post to get some makeup advice then follow these simple tips for looking great in photos and stop hiding from the camera!

  • 18 Tips for Looking Great in Photos 1 of 19
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  • Turn to a 45-degree Angle 2 of 19
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    Facing a camera head-on with square shoulders looks stiff and will make you look wider. Additionally, it calls attention to asymmetry in your features. Turning yourself so that you're at a 45-degree angle from the camera is the most flattering position. I usually turn to the right so that my left side is closest to the camera but this is personal preference. You may find you prefer the right side of your face on film.

  • Real Smiles, Please 3 of 19
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    Nothing will kill a shot faster than a fake smile. Think of something funny, play an audio standup routine, say "fart" whatever it takes. If you just can't muster a smile, don't smile.

  • Relax Your Mouth 4 of 19
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    When you aren't smiling you need to relax your mouth. Holding your lips together or tightening your jaw looks unnatural and makes your chin look funny. Relax all of the muscles around your mouth. Sometimes it's easier to let your lips part a bit and that is perfectly fine.

  • Squinch 5 of 19
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    A lot of people try to hold their eyes open a little wider in photos. Unfortunately, this does not make them look larger or make you appear "awake." What it does is make you look a little scared and taken by surprise. Photographer Peter Hurley came up with the term "squinch" to help direct his subjects to lower their lids. It's not a squint; it's not a pinch. Squinch when you mean business and want a serious shot.

  • Position the Camera Above You 6 of 19
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    When a photo is taken from below, you get the dreaded up the nose shot. Also, whatever is closest to the camera will look the largest, so your chin will look enormous. It's much more flattering to have the camera slightly above you, pointing down at you.

  • Don’t Do "The Tilt" 7 of 19
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    A slight tilt is OK, a big ‘ole tilt, especially towards another person, is a giant no-no. It just looks silly. Instead keep your head upright and resist the urge to knock heads with whoever you are posing with.

  • Face the Light 8 of 19
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    Don't stand where the light is behind you or all you'll see is yourself in shadow. Instead turn so the light is hitting you for a better pic. Indirect or filtered light is best.

  • Avoid Bright Light 9 of 19
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    Though you want to face the light, indirect or filtered light is best. Standing in bright sunshine will not only cause you to squint but will "bleach out" your features.

  • Use a Mirror 10 of 19
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    There is a reason why the "selfie" has become a phenomenon. When you can turn your smartphone camera so that you can see yourself, it makes snapping a self-portrait a breeze. Grab a hand mirror so that you can check yourself before family photos, business headshots, or any other time you know you'll be photographed.

  • Take Cues From the Red Carpet 11 of 19
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    Grab a gossip mag and check it out. Almost every model and actress is standing in one of just a few standard poses that are designed to flatter. The one to know? Stand at an angle to the camera with one leg crossed in front of the other. It's simple, easy, doesn't feel too silly, and is incredibly flattering.

  • Keep Your Arms Away From Your Body 12 of 19
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    When you keep your arms in tight to your body, you give the illusion that you are wider than you really are and the look is stiff and unnatural. Keep your arms away from your body.

  • Don’t Get Handsy 13 of 19
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    While arms should be out, fingers should be together and natural. Splaying out fingers draws too much attention to your hands.

  • Perfect Your Posture 14 of 19
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    There is a tendency to want to hide when the camera is out and that instinct can sometimes lead to slouching. Be sure to hold yourself nice and tall and if anything, arch a bit back.

  • Don’t Be Afraid of Curves 15 of 19
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    Even if you are standing 45-degrees to the camera, you will look stiff and straight if you don't put a little bend in your arms, hips and legs. Keep this rule of thumb in mind: If it can bend, bend it. I know it feels silly, but don't fear it. In fact, if you are kind of thin, really stick out your hip and fake those curves.

  • No One Can See the Back 16 of 19
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    No one can see you from behind when shooting a picture of the front of you. So, take a tip from models and bring all your hair to the front to make it look pretty and full. For studio shots, you can also clip dresses or tops in the back to make them more form fitting.

  • Take a Seat 17 of 19
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    When sitting, again turn your body to an angle. Sitting forward puts your knees closest to the camera and is unflattering to your legs.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Show a Little Personality 18 of 19
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    I know it's hard to feel comfortable in front of a camera but the more relaxed and comfortable you can be, the better. It's ok to get a little goofy!

  • Now You Know the Rules, Break Them 19 of 19
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    After you know the basics of what not to do, you can break the rules intentionally for effect. Go ahead and take a backlit picture in bright sun from below. Sometimes the most interesting pictures happen when you play with light, shadow, and perspective.

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