How many times have you been in an awesome or sweet photograph and felt like it was ruined by a photogenic mistake of yours? What if we told you that this feeling doesn’t have to be the norm? Really! As photographers over at Caleb Patrick Photography, we’ve run into these biggest mistakes and successfully taught our clients how to be more photogenic and take great portraits.
We love sharing our photography knowledge not just with our clients but with you, too! Since we know that learning how to look better in photos is a goal of pretty much everyone, we’ll happily show you our top 12 tips on how to be more photogenic.
Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke
This is more of a preparation tip than anything else. Look back at the photos of you that you love. Why do you like those photos so much? Maybe the angle, your specific smile, your pose?
Try and replicate these elements in every photo opportunity.
Also take note of which side you like better. If you usually like the left side of your face but usually not your right, then try and position yourself in such a way so the left side of your face shows in the pictures.
Likewise, look at the pictures that you don’t like of yourself. We know it’s painful but trust us. What don’t you like specifically about these photographs? Take note of why and then try to correct it next time.
Even if you do everything else right when it comes to having your photo taken, getting caught mid-blink can ruin any shot. I don’t know how many family photos we’ve taken and retaken over the years just trying to get everyone looking at the camera and not blinking.
So what’s the cure, doc? Keep your eyes closed until right before the photo is taken. We use this trick all the time with our clients and it works like a charm!
That Double Chin Wasn’t There Before…
Oh, I hate this photogenic flub so much! Nothing will ruin my mood like seeing a double chin when I’m 100% positive there’s only one on my face. This trick feels weird, but it works. Ready?
Slightly bring your face toward the camera slightly by elongating your neck.
You’ll feel like a chicken clucking around a barnyard, but hey, no double chin! There’s also the added illusion of a slimmer body since whatever is closest to the camera looks biggest. If your face is forward (but remember, just slightly forward), everything else will look a bit slimmer.
As a side note: don’t be the closest person to the camera for the same reason. If you’re on the same plane as everyone else, then you won’t appear the larger.
If you subconsciously, or consciously, are concerned with having your photo taken, it’ll show. If you’re confident (or at least act like it), then that’ll show, too.
Even if there’s something about your appearance you really don’t like, freckles, squinty eyes, or a few pimples, for instance, try to embrace them rather than hide them. You’ll automatically look more photogenic!
Angles are Everything
Any photo shot straight on won’t turn out well. If your body or your face are flat toward the camera, you’ll get those 10 extra pounds a camera can add. But there’s an easy way to avoid this.
Turning your head a little to your more flattering side gives your facial features depth. And tilting your face a bit helps, too. Just make sure you’re tilting toward everyone else so you look like you actually want to be there.
To help with those 10 pounds, put angles in your body.
Bend an elbow, put your weight on your back leg, bend or cross a knee, and tweak those hips just ever so slightly. The extra angles you’re putting into your figure add visual interest and pleasing lines.
Speaking of elbows, the famous “chicken wing pose” is famous for a reason: it works. Place your hand on your hip and then angle it backwards a bit. This creates a more toned, slimmer, and natural looking arm.
If you’re sitting, don’t let any appendage point directly at the camera. Unless you like the look of stubby arms and legs. No judgements here. Instead, you can rotate away slightly and sit up straight.
But not too straight. We’re not going for a king or queen of England look.
The most photogenic people know what their best features are and the best way to highlight them. Have a great smile? Then flash that beautiful smile. Curves to die for? Bend your elbows or move your arms so nothing obstructs those curves. Gorgeous jawline? Angle your head slightly away from the camera and tilt your jaw up.
Knowing your assets is a great tool to pull out for max photogenicocity. (Yes, I know that’s not a word. No, I won’t change it.)
Just don’t overaccentuate yourself. Otherwise you’ll start to look fake, forced, and posed rather than natural.
Photos taken from a downward angle are, generally speaking, not flattering. You look bigger, your chin gets doubled, and there’s weird shadows all over. Unless your photographer knows what he’s doing, avoid this angle!
Instead make sure the photographer is either at the same level or slightly above you. You’ll look slimmer and more proportionate which are always good things.
And if you’re sitting, really make sure the photographer snaps the picture from above. It’s a much more flattering angle.
Sunset is Best
There’s a reason it’s called the golden hour. That hour just before sunset and lasting for just a few minutes after is arguably the most beautiful time of day. The light is warm and gentle and creates a beautiful glow over everything.
Getting outside to take photos during this time will give your pics a gorgeous glow that even an Instagram filter can’t compete with.
I Can See the Light!
Never ever stand directly under a major light source! You’ll get all sorts of nasty shadows on your face which, unless that’s the look you’re going for, won’t do anything for you.
Instead position yourself so a major light source is shining on your face at an angle. (I think there’s a connection between good angles and good photos….) The worst shadows are the ones created by the eye sockets, so any light that can illuminate these areas automatically removes dark circles and makes you look brighter.
How… enlightening. But really, a genuine smile will win over a forced smile every single time. Think of something funny or joke with your photographer or the others in the photo.
Some of the most beautiful smiles we’ve photographed of people who have trouble smiling are when they are genuinely chuckling or laughing.
There’s a sparkle in your eyes that comes only with a true smile. The best way to recreate this is to laugh.
And, while you’re at it, smile with your teeth. Every single client we’ve had at Caleb Patrick Photography has always preferred their portraits with genuine, laughing smile to those where their lips are closed.
Granted, there are definitely times where a closed smile is the better choice. But 9 times out of 10, it’s the toothy, laughing, genuine smile that is best.
And Smile… With Your Eyes!!
Look in the mirror and smile with just your mouth but not the rest of your face. Bleh, amiright? Now try to convey a smile with just your eyes. It looks a lot better, huh.
Even if you don’t smile with your mouth (not that we’re recommending that), if you smile with your eyes then the picture will still look good. But combine those smiling eyes with a laughing mouth and we’ve got ourselves a winner!!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice. Smile in front of a mirror using these techniques until you find a look/pose/smile you love. Then try to replicate it a few times always taking note of how it feels. I’ve noticed that when I practice in the mirror that I make many micro adjustments based upon what I see rather than what I feel.
This is an important distinction to make because you won’t have access to a mirror to make those subconscious adjustments when you’re getting your picture taken. (Unless it’s a selfie. But I’m not talking about selfies so I will conveniently ignore that.) Practicing over and over how you want yourself to look and taking note of how it feels will make it so much easier to replicate when the time comes.
These 12 tips will help you avoid the biggest mistakes when it comes to having your picture taken. They’ll help you look slimmer, more natural, and more photogenic which, honestly, who doesn’t want that?
If you’d like to see how we use these tips with our clients to help them be their most photogenic selves, book a portrait session with us at Caleb Patrick Photography to get individualized coaching and experience! We’d love to show you firsthand.
Have you tried any of these tips? How did they work for you? Drop us a comment to let us know!