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Having your photo taken can seem like a frightening endeavor, especially when it seems that you never look quite as good in portraits as you do in reality. This is a problem faced by many people, but is quite easy to remedy. Being photogenic is not an inborn talent, but an acquired skill that can be learned through practice. Try these methods of posing and tips for becoming photogenic and in no time you'll be the model-esq friend all your buddies brag about.
Focusing on Your Face
- 1. Clarify your skin. The focus of most portraits is the face, so make sure that yours is in tip top condition. Modern cameras are able to capture the smallest of changes and textures of skin, which is both a blessing and a curse. Keep your skin clean and smooth by washing, toning, and moisturizing your face before having your photo taken. Doing this should be a daily morning/evening ritual but is especially important before a photoshoot.
- If you wear makeup, make sure that your concealer and foundation are smoothly applied and match your skin tone correctly. Blend them slightly down your neck and near your ear lobes to create the most natural look.
- Oily skin can ruin a photo by reflecting too much light. Use oil blotting sheets or tissue paper (actual tissue paper, not kleenex) to dab off excess oil on the T-zone of your face.
- Use an exfoliator on your face to slough off any dead skin cells which make your skin appear dull and lackluster in photos. Use a sugar scrub or a rough facial soap the morning of your photos.
- 2. Focus on what makes you unique. One of the characteristics of photogenic people is their confidence in their appearance. Many times we get concerned about something wrong with our face; our freckles, the gap in your teeth, how squinty your eyes get when you smile. Instead of trying to hide those things, embrace them! You will look much more photogenic in your photos that way.
- 3. Show your emotions. It is easy to spot someone who is photogenic from someone who is posing; the former doesn't have to fake their emotions. Although getting your photo taken can be nerve-wrecking, don’t let it get in the way of your true feelings. Don’t create the smile you think you need, use your regular smile. The same goes with the shape of your eyes and the curve of your cheeks. The more you allow your natural emotions to show on your face, the better your pictures will look.
- Always smile with your teeth, because you would never laugh at a funny joke with your lips together. True smiles show off a toothy grin, not tightly pressed lips. Keep your face natural by allowing a real smile to peak through.
- When you are showing emotions your entire face is affected. Although many people associate a look of happiness with just a smile, your eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, and forehead are all affected equally as much. Make sure that you are allowing freedom of movement in your entire face.
- 4. Don’t look the camera straight on. As the old saying goes, “the camera adds ten pounds.” But it doesn't have to! Because the camera is using reflected light to convert a 3D object into a 2D image, the shapes of things are flattened and compressed. Looking straight ahead at the camera will show the fullness of your face and remove/reduce any natural shadows. Instead, turn your face slightly to the side to create natural highlights and shadows and slim the shape of your face.
- 5. Adjust the angle of your face. The angle of your face is tied to the direction you are looking at the camera. Just as how you shouldn't look at the camera straight on, you also should not tilt your head up when taking photos. This will make your face look larger and get a good shot up the inside of your nose. Tilt your head slightly down and to the side for the most photogenic of looks.
Posing Your Body
- 1. Work your assets. Photogenic people have the magnificent ability of knowing what their assets are and the best way to work them. This goes hand in hand with knowing your physical weaknesses. What parts of your body are the most attractive, and which might be a tad more unflattering in photos? Do what you can to play up your best parts while turn those more negative aspects of your body away from the camera.
- 2. Turn away from the camera. Facing a camera straight on does the same thing to your body as it does to your face. Your body will become flattened in a photograph, so a shot from the front will show you from the widest angle and make you look extra round. Turn ¾ to show your body from an angle and create shadows and depth in your pose.
- To slim your arms, put one on your hip and angle your elbow back and away from your body. Although you may feel silly doing it, there is a reason many celebrities adopt this pose - it is ultra flattering!
- If you are sitting for the photo, turn so that the camera is at your side rather than directly in front of you. Bend your knees and stagger your legs slightly. If you choose to cross your legs, cross the leg closest to the camera over the top of the other.
- 3. Bend your joints. How often do you find yourself standing or sitting perfectly straight, with all your joints in line? Probably very rarely or never. Add both movement and a sense of natural poise to your photos by allowing your joints to bend slightly. This means that your elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles should all be comfortably bent. If it can bend, bend it!
- 4. Lean towards the camera. The way we see things works so that things that are closer are larger while things that are further away are smaller. In order to create the illusion of a small, sleek body, lean into photos slightly with your head first.
- 5. Do what’s comfortable. All the posing advice in the world can’t make you more photogenic if you aren’t comfortable with the changes. In the end, it is helpful to keep all the posing tricks in mind, but it is best to do whatever comes naturally to your body. Being photogenic means walking the thin line between acting incredibly natural like the camera is not there, and perfectly posing every inch of your body. The best way to reach this happy medium is simply to allow your body to fall naturally into its most comfortable positions.
Considering the Photos
- 1. Dress to impress. It is certainly hard to be photogenic if you are wearing your dirty sweatpants and torn-up sneakers. If you know you’re going to have your picture taken, choose outfits that photograph well. Neutral tones and muted colors work best because they simultaneously enhance your natural characteristics without distracting from you in a photo.
- Avoid anything that hangs or drapes very loosely on your body, as this will look bulky and large in a photograph. On the other hand, don’t wear anything too tight as the flash from the camera will highlight every little flaw hiding under your clothing.
- Don’t wear anything for photos that you wouldn't normally wear in real life. Your goal is to look like yourself at your very best; you can’t look like yourself if you’re wearing something totally out of your comfort zone or style range.
- 2. Find the light source. The source of light in your photo will greatly dictate the quality of your appearance in the end shot. A light source directly above you will give you dark shadows under your eyes, while one from the side will create bold background lines. Work so that your light source is in front of you and slightly above you. Whenever you can, take your photos in natural light near a window or outside.
- The best lighting for photos occurs in the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. When you can, try to take your pictures during these times.
- Although some photographers can use light metering to add brightness to a dark foreground, it is best to avoid taking pictures with your light source behind you. A light source coming from behind will darken your entire body and ruin a great picture.
- 3. Choose a great location. Although the seat in your car or in front of your mirror may be the easiest places to perfect your pose and get good lighting, they don't allow for the most scenic of backgrounds. Being photogenic has a lot to do with working your surroundings in addition to showing off your facial and bodily posing skills. Take photos in a comfortable environment where you are the focus.
- Busy restaurants and bars add a lot of noise to the background of a photo, taking the eye off you as the subject. If you must pose in a crowded area, blur the background to keep the viewers eye on you in the foreground.
- If you are taking a group photo, try to insert yourself in the center of the group and away from the ends. The two people in the ends of a group shot will always appear the largest and are not often the focus of a picture.
- 4. Act confident. Confidence will show in a photo, and is the key to being photogenic. Even if you don't feel confident, act like it for the camera. The quality of your appearance in photos will greatly improve with a bit of personal knowledge that you look good, and that your photos will turn out great because of it.
- Pretend like you're laughing. Often, this creates an effortlessly natural smile. Right before the camera flashes, pretend like you just saw something funny, or you were just told a joke!
- If taking your own photos, on a webcam, phone camera, digital camera or something else, this takes practice. You'll need to learn the correct angle you want to take it at, so you can move your hand to the position.
- Practice smiling in front of the mirror. In no time you'll know which smile looks fake and which is the most flattering. Learning how your face moves will help when someone grabs for the camera. Smile using your top row of teeth: it may feel unnatural but a smile with both rows of teeth can easily look fake.
- Study pictures of models and other photogenic people. If appropriate for your personality, experiment with mimicking their poses and angles.
- Avoid saying "cheese" while looking at the camera. This can lead to forced-looking smiles.