Some people are just naturally, infuriatingly photogenic. Many of us, however, are not. Which, in a world where photography is a kind of literacy where we’re expected to have flattering user photos for just about every platform, occasion, or service, that can be a real problem. How do you ensure that you not only look professional (or approachable, or employable, or however else you want to look), but also like yourself? And, ideally, like the most attractive version of yourself? Simple: Steal tips from top models and photographers, whose job it is to make their subjects look better in photos and feel their best.
Take some selfies: Seriously! Learning your own best angles and looks is most easily achieved through trial and error. If you’re going to have your photo professionally taken (or you just want to generally look better in photos), take some time to take photos of yourself. That way, you can get an idea of which angles, shapes, and expressions make you look and feel your best. And if you get stuck? These tips on how to take a better selfie can help you.
Relax your mouth to relax the eyes: Often, what we think of as an awkward photo is just a photo with a lot of tension. Tense hands, tense faces — our brains read them as inauthentic. And one of the places where tension is most evident is the eyes. If you’re smiling with your mouth but not your eyes, you may wind up looking afraid, anxious, or just uncomfortable. Master photographer Sue Bryce recommends allowing your mouth to relax, which can, as a result, relax your whole face. That way, when you smile, the tension in both your mouth and eyes will melt away.
Get that jaw out there: Headshot master Peter Hurley has all kinds of incredible tips about how to look better in photos, but it’s his advice about an extended neck and jaw that can really make the difference in everything from portraits to everyday candid shots. His “squinch” move is also highly recommended.
Make a fist: For a natural, beautiful-looking hand, it’s all about the “fist, relax, put it back,” says Roberto Valenzuela. By first creating a fist, your wrist will arch in a way that, once your hand is relaxed, will look natural, soft, and attractive, regardless of gender.
Create a ‘C’ shape: Another great unisex tip? Create curvature for visual interest. Depending on your body shape, you can decide how to accentuate your body — but regardless of how curvy you are or aren’t, angling your body into a slight ‘C’ shape and bringing your arms away from your body creates space and a more attractive line of sight.
…Or a waist: Another great Sue tip? Put your hands on your waist, not your hips.
“Lift your hands heigher and bring it in,” says Sue, “we call this faux-waist. And it’s not where your real waist is.”
When you do this, though, Sue cautions that a lot of people will end up with their shoulders facing forward, which is not idea. Instead, be sure to roll your shoulders back and down, and push your elbows back. Then angle your chin down and out, and you’ll be set.
Think good thoughts: It seems strange, but one of the best ways to look better in photos is to feel better about having your photo taken. Often, being in front of the camera can make you feel nervous. And while there are lots of tricks photographers can use to help their subjects feel more at ease, the fact is, if your only thought while being photographed is “oh no, I’m being photographed!”, your face will show it. Take a leaf out of Tyra Banks’s book and think about something that makes you happy or positive. If your brain is playing along, your face will, too.