Like it or not, we live in a very visual world. Photos are all around us. We stockpile family photos and travel memories. We curate our online image with professional headshots and profile pictures. And we can’t forget about all those candid snaps filling our camera rolls! But that doesn’t necessarily mean we feel comfortable on camera. In fact, it’s pretty normal to dislike the way you look in photos (that was me 4 years ago). Why? Smiling for the camera and smiling with a friend are two very different things. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a model or fashion blogger to look better in photos. You simply need to learn how to pose!
Consider these your “tools of the trade”. They are techniques gleaned from professional photographers and professional models, but more importantly from a lot of personal experimentation. When I started this blog, I had no clue how to pose. I didn’t know what good lighting was… and would justifiably cringe looking at my photos. They just didn’t look like me! I wondered how other bloggers managed to look flawless, while I felt so stiff and awkward. Was there anything I could do to look better in photos? The answer…
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It’s instinct! Tell someone to pose for a photo, and inevitably, they will press their arms tight against their torso. In fact, when we stand naturally, we usually place our arms flat against our sides.
You need to fight that urge while taking photos. Pulling your arm into your body will squish your arm outward, making it appear larger than it actually is. This movement will also make you look awkward and uncomfortable in your photos.
To fix this, create a bit of space between your torso and your arm. Lift your arm slightly (about an inch or two) by putting a hand on your hip or upper thigh. You could place a hand in your pocket—or when posing with others, rest your hand on the shoulder or back of a family member. Dynamic photos are all about creating little triangles of space!
This is an important basic for anyone wondering how to pose! In fact, flip through any fashion magazine and you will immediately notice a lack of straight on shots. Standing and facing the camera squarely is not very flattering.
Remember, great photos are all about angles. Let’s use them to our advantage! Instead of a straight on photo, position your body at a 45 degree angle. This posing technique is slimming and adds visual interest.
Likewise, let’s take a look at our weight distribution. Is it split evenly between both feet? If so, it’s time for some shifting… Put the majority of your weight on your back leg and you will instantly create a subtle—and super flattering— “S curve” with your body.
This creates beautiful feminine lines, making the most of your figure! Just be careful not to lean backward or away from the camera. This can look stiff and uncomfortable. You are aiming for a natural stance.
Ah… the dreaded double chin. Before you go blaming your body, consider your stance! Did you know the way we pose can create a double chin where none exists? It can be nerve wracking to be in front of the camera when you’re not accustomed to it.
Consequently, people have a tendency to pull their head away from the camera, lean backward, or to tuck their chin down during a photo shoot. It’s a slight movement, perhaps an imperceptible one, but is enough to create that skin ripple we all dislike.
Instead, when considering how to pose, think about bringing your ears forward like a turtle emerging from a shell (toward the camera). I know that sounds odd and will probably feel a bit weird and unnatural. However, this subtle forward movement will give you a smooth, strong jawline. It’s something I learned many years ago in TV news (this post talks about those on camera lessons).
Similarly, a slight lean from the waist toward the camera can also work wonders! It feels more interesting, intimate and engaging. It is also an instant body slimmer and a key pose for those who want to look better in photos.
This movement is also helpful in placing your chin, as you will automatically be bringing your ears forward. Sayonara double chin, hello streamlined look!
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You don’t have to be tall to look tall in photos. Take it from me, I’m 4’11. Kelly is just slightly taller! The trick is adopting a dancer-like posture. As you play around with your stance and learn how to pose effectively, I want you to imagine you have a string attached to the crown of your head. This string is pulling you up like a marionette.
Keep your core muscles engaged and lifted as you settle into this stance. Your shoulders should be back and down. If you need help adjusting your shoulders properly, try rolling them forward, then up and around to settle into that “back” position. This will elongate your neck and overall bodyline.
Although this post is all about posing, sometimes the trick to looking better in photos is simply forgetting the camera and letting the real you out! Relax, take a deep breath and have fun with movement.
Don’t be afraid to walk a little, twirl back and forth, swish the hem of your skirt, or simply dance to the music in your head. This will create a bit of dynamism, spark a more natural smile, and help you feel comfortable in front of the camera. In fact, photographers say many clients end up loving their candid/spontaneous shots the best!