The biggest obstacle preventing you (and most people) from getting in the photos is… YOURSELF! But this is normal. Most adults prefer to hide from the camera. (And believe me, I have been in that place too.)
But wouldn’t you prefer to love your portraits? To love your portraits so much that you…
- cannot wait to share them with the world?
- love to be at the front of your brand + business, without hesitation?
- continually seek out photo opportunities?
- say “YES” to taking the front and center spot of a group photo?
Sounds great doesn’t it? My intent is to get you in a place where you seek out photo opportunities and ROCK your pose!
Remember these three foundational basics: LIGHT SOURCE, ANGLES, & SMILES
Looking thinner and genuinely happy on camera is a technique that you can learn. With practice, you can go from dodging the camera to loving photographs of yourself.
#1 Find Your Light Source
The most important factor in photography is light. Find your best light sources and use gorgeous light to your advantage.
Set aside just 5 minutes. Grab your smartphone (or a hand-mirror), open your camera app, and turn it on selfie mode so you can watch your face. Hold it up in-front of you as you walk around your home and yard. Your objective is to find different types of light and shade. As you move about, study your face, and don’t be shy to take sample pictures as you move about. Stop in some spots and do a 360° slow spin to study how the light changes and hugs the curvature of your face.
What did you discover?
- Do you prefer outdoor light or indoor light?
- Do you prefer harsh sunlight or soft overcast light?
- Do you prefer window light?
- Do you prefer being back-lit, front-lit, side-lit, or angle-lit?
My favorite light: Soft bounce light (indoor or outdoor) or diffused sunlight – slightly from above, and direct or on a slight angle.
Now you know what to look for when it’s time for the next shot.
Wish to delve into more detail? Check out this post, “How to Look Your Best in Photos: Finding Beautiful Light Anywhere”.
#2 Find Your Best Angles
Just like any skill, posing takes both knowledge and practice. A valuable tool that you can take advantage of is learning how to position your body into the most flattering angles.
Set aside just 10 minutes. Find a mirror and practice standing poses first. Then do this all over again seated on the edge of a chair, bench, or stool. The key to looking thinner and longer involves 4 moves: tilts, twists, pulls, and pushes.
TILTS are great for anything that bends. That means your elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, neck, fingers, waist… if it bends, bend it! Play with your tie, jacket pockets, pants pockets, shift your weight to one leg, prop one foot on its toe, cross your legs. If seated, use your hands and even your elbows to play with poses where you lean forward on your thighs and knees. A shorter or taller seat, or a small prop under one or both feet can change your pose dramatically too.
TWISTS are how you shave 10 or 20 pounds instantly! Instead of your body facing the camera straight on, turn away from the camera up to 45 degrees. Then twist your shoulders back towards the camera slightly. That simple twist towards the camera stretches and tightens your core. And BONUS – the angle adds interest.
PUSHES + PULLS shave just a bit more weight and will improve your posture. First, extend and lengthen everything – think of a string pulling you up from the crown of your head. Second, pull your shoulder blades back, and push your face toward the camera. (If your face is directly to camera, push in as if the photographer is pulling your nose into the lens. But if your face is slightly angled, push that part of your face towards the camera.) This technique stretches any extra skin under your chin that gives the illusion of a double chin. These pushes and pulls can define your jaw at the same time, making you look leaner with a defined jawline.
With practice, you can learn your ideal positions that are easy to repeat on demand, even without a mirror. Now you know how to move your body for that next shot.
#3 Find Your Genuine Smile
Smiling on demand is a skill that some people are just born with. If that is not the case for you, I have some tips you can practice to enliven your smile and that twinkle in your eye.
Set aside 5 minutes. Find a mirror so you can study your face as you practice.
Half of a believable smile is in the eyes. I like to scrunch my face slightly like you would at the start of a giggle or a smirk. When I really really smile, my eyes tilt inward a little, and they even squint slightly. What expression makes your eyes sparkle?
The second half of a beautiful smile is how you position your jaws and tongue. Your jaws should be relaxed, allowing space between your upper and lower teeth. Traditionally, we grew up saying a smily word like CHEEEEESE, but saying “cheese” clenches your teeth together – this is bad! It would be better to just hold that “eeeeeeeeeeee” tone, as if singing! For your tongue, suction it to the roof of your mouth. You should see the rounding underneath your chin suddenly suck up if you do this technique right.
During longer photo sessions, my facial muscles get sore and I can feel tightness setting into my smile. When this happens, take a few seconds to relax your facial muscles, and return with a fresh smile. A helpful smile-reset is to giggle, laugh, or let out a deep and relaxing breath.