I received a tweet this morning from @goshery who prompted me to do this post after mentioning her fear of having to do a company photo shoot today. Have no fear! I hope this post gets to her in time. For @goshery and everyone who dreads taking photos or for those who want to take a more flattering vacation photo, here are my tried and tested tips:
1. Angle hips away from camera. Avoid taking a photo straight-on as this makes you appear wider than you are.
2. Tall people have long necks, so fake it if you're not tall! Elongating your neck makes you appear thinner and taller. Avoid hunching or hiding your neck in your hair or a big collar.
3. To avoid that "tortured, fake and unnatural smile" because the camera is taking forever to flash, look away from camera, and when it's about to flash, quickly look back into lens for more natural smile and facial expression. Don't try to hold an awkward smile for a million seconds while the camera operator is fumbling with buttons, unless you're really good at smiling like Miss America.
4. Ever wonder why we say "cheese" and not "potato" or "happy birthday" when you're taking a photo? Because when you're saying "cheese" it appears you are smiling naturally, tightens your vocal cords in a flattering way and allows you to hold what looks like a smile while waiting for the camera to flash. Even the Grinch can look happy. And if you don't want to actually say "cheese" out loud, just go through the action without the sound and you'll get the same effect. Try it in a mirror!
5. Watch your arms! Be natural. Don't over-pose (hand on the hip, trying too hard) especially when you're standing next to grandma- it just looks silly. Don't crush arms into your side making them appear larger. Let them hang naturally and hold them slightly away from your body and angle your thumbs towards camera to make your arms thinner. Put one hand in your front jeans pocket for a relaxed look if you don't know what to do with your arms (but keep a thumb out or you'll look like you are missing a hand). I bet you will notice this trick next time you look at a model in a magazine.
6. When taking group photos- add some interest! Direct everyone to look like they are "the best of friends and ready to have the best time of their lives!" which always works to get everyone a bit more energetic and engaged with each other in the photo. In my opinion, group photos are the perfect opportunity to take a funny or goofy shot... always winners.
7. Choose your background wisely- it seems obvious, but avoid having a bunch of clutter or distracting objects in the background. Photo-bombers can ruin a great photo- unless the "bombing" is intentional!
8. This one is my "advanced" tip that I suggest you try with people who don't think you're insane first. For a more natural and energetic photo with movement... try taking one step forward into the camera. It might feel awkward and unnatural, but your body will fall into a natural movement that won't look too posed. Ever notice how much cooler photos in magazines look when the figures are walking forward? You might even catch a breeze under your hair which adds great movement to photos... double bonus!
I leave you with a few awesome Awkward Family Photos. There are more here. For now, happy photo-taking!