We hear it all the time... "Ugh! I hate the way I look in photographs!" or "Make sure I don't have a double chin!" Well, allow me to tell you that firstly, you probably don't look nearly as bad as you think. We are our own worst critics, afterall. Go ahead, try and point a camera at me and watch how uncomfortable I get...actually don't.
But there's certain things you can do when facing down the business end of a camera lens to look your best, so I've rounded up tips I've read and some advice that I give clients while I direct them and here's what I've got:
Chin Up! Not just optimistic advice from a singing spider but a solid modeling technique. A lot of people have heard this advice and will end up pointing their chins to the heavens...this isn't good either as you may have hidden that double chin but now we're all looking up your nose. As the ever-fabulous Tyra says (yes I love that crazy ass woman), push your chin forward slightly and up...slightly. I think the phrase I say most while shooting is "chin down just a bit" so don't overdo it! Another chin-hider is as simple as getting the camera up higher, a lot of times I like to shoot group shots from above my subjects, that way everyone looks great without much directing!
To The Side! If you've ever seen photographs of celebrities on the red carpet, you'll notice a trend in how they stand. There's a reason for that! Most women are self-conscious about their waist/hip areas (and if you're not, tell me how you did that?). A great way to keep from looking wider than you are is to turn your whole body slightly to the side and then rotate your torso toward the camera. This minimizes the waist and gives your body better lines. Us photographers LOVE good lines.
On the subject of camera-adds-pounds-prevention, remember this golden rule: anything closer to the camera lens will appear larger. So while you're doing your red carpet twisty pose above, resist the urge to push your hip out TOWARD the lens...but instead push it the other way! Boom! Instant va-va-voom.
Arms! If you're a woman...regardless of your size...you know the dreaded jiggle jiggle of arm flab. I have chicken arms and those things will wave long after my hand has ceased movement...what a crock of shit that is. Unless of course, you are Linda Hamilton circa Terminator 2, but most of us aren't. The simple solution is to keep from pressing your upper arm against your body. Brides especially go straight to the arms-at-sides bouquet grip because that's what they think they're supposed to do. I always say "keep is casual, ladies" and encourage anything but that pose! Put hands to hips for the easiest work-around. Also try to avoid putting your bicep parallel to the lens, just like standing straight-on to a camera widens the hips so will the arm if placed broad side to lens.
Shoulders make or break a photo, and you can think of them just like hips. Turning them slightly angled to the camera or breaking up monotony just by giving them some diagonal lines can do wonders. Pushing your shoulders out will create magic collarbones, just don't overdo it! Here's some great shoulders:
This is Kate...notice the arms too...away from the body!
Feets! I know...you're thinking "now I have to worry about my FEET?" Yes and no! Flip through a Vogue sometime and note the way the models place their feet...they might be pidgeon-toed or in a one-foot-forward pose. This puts some separation in the legs, keeps the knees from locking (and looking weird) and gives your hips a nice, sexy UNF factor.
Hands! The last thing you think of and the first thing to look weird in a photo! The best thing to remember with hands is to keep them soft and elegant looking. Relax them and keep from doing the stiff as a board plank hand. This is photography, not a military formation! Another good tip for women is when you're holding fabric (like a wedding dress), hold it with your thumb and middle finger. It's like sticking your pinkie up when you drink!
Lip Service! Smiling is easy...if you're faking it, it's going to look fake. Now I hate my smile and don't take my own advice but I am the one with the camera so that is irrelevant here. To get real joy in your face, you should be feeling some real joy. How, you ask? Think of something...anything that makes you happy. A funny memory, the one you love (and quickly push away the "that bastard left toothpaste in the sink this morning" type thoughts...or better yet, think of puppies. Fuzzy fuzzy puppies.) As a photographer, it's my job to bring this sort of thing out of you, but this is a great technique for when you're not in the hands of a professional who also happens to be HILARIOUS.
Do your homework! Big day coming fast? Heading to a reunion or other photographically threatening event? Flip through bridal and fashion magazines/blogs and instead of looking at the clothes, look at the pose! It really helps!