You’ve had your picture taken countless times, at every event and occasion imaginable. You probably know the drill: smile for the camera! But even if you have nailed that elusive grin time after time, it always seems like something is off when looking back on photos from years ago or seeing them in albums of friends who are now married. Fear not – this post will teach you how to look amazing in pictures!

Get to know your face 

San Diego Family Photographer

When it comes to your face, you should know the right side and angle that makes you look best. This applies not just for professional photoshoots but also every day photos where others see who you are at first glance.

Take time getting to know your entire profile by experimenting with different angles of smiling or using natural expressions like raising one eyebrow before going in front of a camera lens!

Easy on the makeup

Looking Amazing In Pictures

Don’t overdo it! When you’re having headshots, family or maternity photos taken, only wear the basic amount of makeup. You want to show your natural beauty in these pictures and don’t want a heavy dose of foundation weighing down on your delicate features; just brush some mascara onto lashes for more fullness and add soft lipstick to give yourself an extra pop.

Facing the camera

Looking Amazing In Pictures
This is a great portrait and example that some of the best portraits of people (and maybe of yourself) were taken at an angle as opposed to “squared-up”.

You should never face the camera head on. It doesn’t work for most and it will make you look like a deer in headlights. Instead, your photographer can help with posing but try to position yourself at an angle instead of standing straight up and perpendicular to them.

Tip: a “squared up” pose does work for some – those people/photo direction would be someone looking for a “powerful” look.  Powerful/intimidating/etc.  This is commonly (and effectively) used with a “hero” angle (camera angle lower than shoulder height.  

Control the chin

Looking Amazing In Pictures
This image is a great example of chin control. The skull she is holding only helps with keeping the chin up and neck forward (maintaining “eye contact” with the skull).

When you’re in front of a camera, it’s important to control your chin – but not always how you might think. Photos where your neck is elongated and your chin is pushed slightly forward will lift the face and give it an angular look. It may take some practice before feeling comfortable with this pose, so be sure to work on that beforehand!

Related article: How to choose the perfect location for your next photo session

One of the quickest ways to get a more angular look is by controlling your neck. When you elongate it and push out your chin, not only will it make you feel taller but also give off that perfect model-esque vibe!

Pick your outfit carefully

Looking Amazing In Pictures
There are an infinite amount of possibilities when it comes to choosing an outfit. Here is a great example of an outfit that contrasts the background well – and would look even better after editing.

The most important thing that you should do before showing up at your shoot is think carefully about which outfit will work well with all the other aspects of this process-the lighting and background colors, as well as how they’ll affect positioning in front or behind props.

You may be tempted to wear something loud just because it’s eye catching, but remember: too much color can cause distraction from some really great shots! To avoid an awkward mishmash look between styles and designs that clash together awkwardly , stick with solid colors.

Using light to your advantage

Here is one of our own personal examples. We loved the area we were in for this mothers day mini session – but the lighting didn’t work. We improvised with off camera flash (which is something we specialize in).

When it comes to photography, timing and lighting are everything. A professional photographer will be able to help you make the best of these factors but your own research can go a long way in ensuring that whatever time they decide works for them is also going to work well for you. Avoid standing directly under light because this creates shadows on your face which translates into unflattering photos- not what anyone wants!

Related article: Choosing the right props for your next photo session

Here is a great example of controlling light and keeping harsh light off of your face. Here is harsh beach light (about 6:30pm) and we kept the light either behind them or angled from the side (never directly on the face).

You should aim instead for 15-20 minutes before or after sunset when shooting outdoors (in order capture both sunsets as well as good lights). If possible try one session during golden hour too so we’ll get some shots with soft colors behind us. Unless it’s an overcast day, we  always try to get our clients in full shade so that the lighting isn’t dappled or causing weird shadows on your face.

Let’s recap what we discussed!

For those of you who find all of this information a little too overwhelming – don’t worry!  Above all, during a photo session, you should be having fun!  This is even more true if you paid a photographer for their services.  The session is about you – have fun with it.  If your photographer is average at best – he/she will know the areas mentioned above.  But – it never hurts to be prepared – and you know what to do (and explain to the photographer) to get the images you desire.  Here is a short re-cap of the tips we provided.

  1. Get to know your face, its structure, and which angle/side looks the best. This can take time and practice to figure out – that’s completely normal.
  2. Go easy on the amount of makeup you use. There is such thing as too much makeup.
  3. Avoid “squaring up” to the camera. Turn your entire body slightly away from square (or however far you need to, to get the desired look) – Then while moving your head only – look into the lens.  That’s a “generic” angled portrait.
  4. Control your chine by pushing it forward. Don’t go ham – slight movements go a long way.
  5. Pick an outfit that makes a statement or defines you and your style in some way – but not something that distracts from the most important aspect of the photo – you. Negate this statement if you’re a fashion model or plan to take fashion style photos.
  6. Light is literally everything we see. It’s the presence and absence of light that shapes the objects we see in the world.  Understanding this helps a lot – never stand directly in the sun – always use shade over direct harsh sunlight.  Your photographer will know the ins-and-outs of lighting, so he’ll be there to guide you!

There you have it! 

You now have a basic understanding of how to look amazing in pictures.  You may think it’s obvious – but you’d be surprised how effective these aspects are.  There isn’t anything “special” about someone else that makes their photos look better than yours.  It’s literally following these tips and you’ll have amazing photos – every.single.time.

These 6 steps are how we run our business on a daily basis (from a business owner/photography perspective).  We coach our clients with these same steps everyday.

We know you can go to your next session, loaded with these tips, and blow your photographers mind with your knowledge in what makes you look great in photos.

If you’d like to learn more about us – check us out here or on Facebook/Instagram.  If you have any questions  – please leave them below or shoot us an PM on Facebook or Instagram!

Until next time – take care and stay safe!

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