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More Tips to Rock Your Next Photo Session
  • Michelle Harris

More Tips to Rock Your Next Photo Session

It seems that learning how to look your best in photos is a bit of a hot topic! I totally get it too! We all want to look our best no matter if we are in person or a photo. When we are in person we have the opportunity to be seen in different lighting, different angles as well as multiple times. If it is in a photo you only get one chance, one look to make a first impression. After a bit of thinking I came up with 6 more tips to rock YOUR next photo session.

Ready to always look your best in every photo? Knowing these little things can help you feel prepared and relaxed.

"Use your smile to change the world, don't let the world change your smile." Unknown

Some of the things I am going to share with you, your photographer knows to look for. Educating yourself will help you feel more knowledgeable and allow you to relax a bit. These tips will even help you if your taking a selfie or those precious vacation family photos too! #everyoneisbeautiful #photography #portraitphotography

6 Tips to Rock Your Photo Session

1. Posture and angles

I touched on posture last week a bit. I wanted to add to that and give you a few more tips. We all have areas of our body that we just aren't happy with. I know I do. For some it is a double chin, larger arms or that pesky midsection. With simple body angle adjustments you can help distract from these areas.

If you are among the ones that fear the double chin there are a couple of things you can do. First elongate your neck by slightly stretching your neck forward. Then you want to lower your chin just a touch. This will feel a bit odd, but it will work to help decrease a double chin. Just be careful to not over exaggerate these movements. If you have long hair try moving your hair to one side and see how this changes the shape of your face and neck.

For those among the ones wanting to look more narrow or smaller there are a couple of things you can do to de-emphasize them. The easiest thing to do is to separate your arms from your body. The teens have this down pat! They immediately put one hand on their hip and cock one leg. So what do they know that the rest doesn't know? By moving your arms away from your body it adds definition to the body and thins the arms. When your arms are glued to your body it causes your arms to appear larger and your body wider with no definition. Also, bend your arms. Even bending your arms slightly adds shape to your midsection. Keep your hands relaxed and slightly bent. This gives a more relaxed appearance.

Now for that troublesome midsection. The biggest thing to remember is to never be straight on to the camera. When your body is straight with the camera you lose definition and make your body seem wider. This is were the phrase a camera adds 10 pounds comes from. If you ever watch the news notice how the anchors stand. They are almost always turned slightly and have their arms bent and away from their body. The reason they stand this way is to add definition to the waist ad the emphasis away from that area. So the next time you are standing for a photo stand with your body turn 3/4 away from the camera, have one leg slightly in front of the other, your weight should be on your back leg and the front leg needs to be slightly bent. Also, have one shoulder closer to the camera. Whatever you have closer to the camera appears larger, which is why shifting your weight to your back foot works so well. If you are sitting the same premise works. Turn 3/4 (or as close to it as possible) away from the camera and this time cross your legs at the ankles.

2. Facial expressions

Last week I talked about bringing someone with you to help make you laugh or smile. I know first hand how hard it is to stay engaged and always have that perfect smile. I have a couple more suggestions to help you get that perfect smile. When you smile keep your tongue behind your teeth. This little trick is something I did back in my pageant days. By keeping your tongue behind your teeth your smile won't be too big or goofy. If you are one that feels like your lips stick to your teeth put just a small touch of Vaseline on your teeth. I know it sounds gross, but it works. Try looking away from the camera and then back. This gives you a moment to disengage from the camera and relax. Lastly, take candid shots. When you feel like you aren't having to pose you can relax and your smile will come more naturally.

3. Eyes

The eyes have it. They show your story and are the gateway to your soul. Your eyes show the emotion in your photos and make the connection. Any time you are having to stay engaged it is difficult and if a flash is being used it can make it more difficult. There are a few things you can do to help relax your eyes and stay engaged with the camera.

One little trick I tell my clients, especially if they tend to blink with a flash, is to close their eyes and open them when it is time. If your photographer is using a flash or it is just a bring sunny day it is hard to keep your eyes open or not squint. By simply closing your eyes they are able to relax and not feel tired and stressed.

The next little trick to help stay engaged is to look away from the camera and then look back.

This allows your eyes a chance to focus on something else for just a brief moment. It gives your brain something else to think about too! Why does that matter? Your brain tells your eyes what to do. So, if your eyes are tired so is your brain.

If you have an early morning session or just prone to red eyes use a couple of drops of Visine. (make sure to follow as directed by the manufacture) Using Visine helps make the eyes look brighter and more awake.

Lastly, face your eyes toward the light source. I know I just told you to look away or to close your eyes. If you are having a portrait done catchlights in the eyes is something you want. The catchlights are the reflection of the light or flash when your picture is taken. The catchlights create sparkle and add life to your eyes. Also, looking toward the light right before having your photo taken helps shrink the pupils and avoid red eye.

"A smile is a curve that set everything straight." Phyllis Diller

4. Lighting

Lighting is the key to any great photo. There are a few important things you want to remember here.

First, don't take photos in direct sunlight or with a direct flash (unless you are using a diffuser). Direct sunlight and flash creates very harsh lighting. Harsh lighting creates harsh shadows and even can create shiny areas on a person's face.

You want soft even light. This means you want to stand in open shade. Open shade is created by something, but you can look up and see the sky. Example is the shadow created by a building. You can stand in the shade created and be able to look up and see the sky. This creates a soft even light that will be flattering. Soft light helps to smooth wrinkles too.

5. Background

The background you select should add to the photo and not distract from it. In other words you want it to compliment what you are wearing. Typically, you want to background to be simple and clean in appearance. The background should add contrast with you. This allows you to stand out from what is behind you. You want to make sure you don't have a tree, fountain or light pole behind you. If any of these are directly behind you it will look like they are growing out of your head. Not a great look for anyone!

White walls make for a great background. You just can't get anymore simple and clean than that. The reason a white wall makes for a great background is the lack of color. Colored walls can cause a the color to be cast on you if you are standing close to it. With a background white wall you just don't have that problem. If you are going to stand close to the background you want to make sure it isn't too bold or bright. For example: when the background is a bright bold red it will cast a red hue over you. Now if you have blue undertones in your skin it may work for you and create balance skin tones. But, if you have red undertones in the skin you will look more red. My best advice is to just avoid the bright colored walls.

6. Practice

Lastly practice. Practice having your photo taken makes it easier and more comfortable for you to do. Even if you still don't like being in front of a camera you feel more at ease.

Stand in front of a mirror, nope not vain to do at all. Remember we are practicing to become more comfortable in your own skin when someone puts a camera in front of you. When you are looking at yourself in the mirror look from different sides and angles. This will help you determine if you like the way you look from one side better than another. Practice your smile. Remember what I told you above, smile with your tongue behind your teeth. See if you can visually tell the difference in your smile using this technique. Practice the 3/4 turn away from the camera and stand with one foot slightly back, the front leg slightly bent and shift your weight to your back foot. Watch what this does to your posture. Look at yourself with your arms straight down beside your body and then bend them and move them slightly away from your body. Notice how your body looks.

I know you are thinking, "there is no way I am going to do this, I will look silly." While you may feel silly doing this you are practicing for the real moment when the camera is in front of you. Think about it for a second. When your photographer asks you to stand exactly like I just described and starts to instruct you on how, you will completely understand what they are asking you to do. No more feeling awkward and your comfort level just went way up! To make this happen all you had to do is feel a little silly while practicing in front of a mirror. I am here to tell you I have practiced in front of a mirror. In my teen days I was in several pageants and I needed to know how to move and stand in what I was wearing while I moved around on stage. I would put on the exact outfit I was going to be wearing and watch how it moved when I moved certain ways. Did the dress pull and look odd or did it have a nice flow. Did I look better from certain directions or angles. Trust me without practice I would have never been comfortable enough to walk out on stage.

While I know it is still scary and uncomfortable to be in front of a camera, understanding these little things will help you relax. Educating yourself about having your photo taken will also help you talk to your photographer about what you like, dislike and why. To some extent you can talk their language. Now, that you are done reading go find a mirror and start practicing!

Call your photographer today and get on their schedule! If you don't have a photographer give me a call and let's chat and see if we're a good fit.

        Winston-Salem, North Carolina                 336-408-0804       



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