How to (finally) Look Good In PicturesI'm not a bad looking guy, somewhere between Brad Pitt and the fat Alec Baldwin, skewing just slightly to the latter, I assure you. But if you've ever seen a *photo* of me, you might conclude the range is somewhere between great ape and Danny Devito. So after decades of dodging photos or avoiding seeing my effigy in print, I set out to learn some simple rules for looking better in photos, short of plastic surgery.
What follows is ten steps I've learned to get better pictures of yourself, men or women.
1) If it's a standing photo, you know you're not supposed to slouch. But do you know how to ensure it each and every time? The trick to good posture for a photo is to put one foot slightly back, centered with your spine.
2) If you want to look thinner, point your legs about 45 degrees to the camera, and then twist at the waist towards the photographer. It's what the stars do on red carpets, and they do it for a reason.
3) For seated shots, extend your neck and then tilt your head down slightly to get rid of double chin actions, as well as views up your sinuses.
4) Pimples are self aware. They're like Skynet. They just know when the worst possible time for them to appear is, and then they plan it out, tingling for days in advance to let you know they're coming and there's nothing you can do about it. But try not to pop them (I sound like your parents), because the red mark that will leave is more noticeable in a photo than an actual zit. Two corollaries: 1) If you resist my wise advice and pop a zit, put Visine on it. It gets the red out, seriously. 2) Pop all whiteheads without abandon. They do show up on film in all their pus-filled glory.
5) If you wear makeup, avoid dark colors which get darker in photos.
6) Flash does not flatter. If you can possibly get away with it, don't use the flash. It leaves harsh shadows on your face that make you look like Nosferatu instead of Norbert, or whatever your name happens to be.
7) Remember Catherine Zeta Jones in Zorro? How her eyes sparkled in every shot? Yah, I do... wow. Anyways, that was fake, but the point is that eye sparkle comes out looking great in photos taken outside or with a bright source. To get it, move your head so your eye catches the light. You know you have it when it's a *little* uncomfortable for your eyes. Your photographer can help, but watch out that you don't go too high or we'll see up your nostrils (see point 8).
8) Cloudy days are gloomy, but they're the best for outdoor pictures (of you, scenery be damned). If the weather is, sigh, sunny, then take the picture in the early morning or late afternoon. Both provide soft lighting, and by all means, avoid high noon!
9) Please leave sparkles at the store. Seriously, this is never a good look. But it's especially ridiculous with a flash photo (strike one) that reflects off each piece of sparkle matter (strike two). Beyond that, everyone you touch has sparkles on them for weeks, and you probably broke up a marriage the last time you reached over some hapless guy to grab a drink from the bar.
10) Wipe off that face, leave the grin. How many times have you had photos of yourself that you thought should come out normal reveal you to be a walking oil factory? And it never works in your favor, like a glistening Baywatch shot-- rather, it's a disgusting Discovery special about human sebaceous glands, and maybe the microbes that inhabit them. Make sure to wipe down your face and neck before a photo, particularly if you might be sweating. And be especially careful if the picture will be taken with a flash, which will catch the light off your emulsions like a prism.
Hope these ten tips help you look better in photographs, pictures, calendars, and film.
Here are some resources: