What do you do when someone pulls a camera on you?
Do you instantly clam up, become filled with self doubt, and begin to ponder how to stand like a normal human being or where on earth you should put your darn hands (I mean, you've had these things for forever, but where the heck should you put them?!)
If yes, then good news! This post is for you.
If no, then go on with your bad self, Reader! Or, stick around and laugh at me intentionally giving myself a double chin for "before" poses. It's up to you!
Disclaimer: This blog will be an overload of my goofy looking mug, so I apologize in advance for swamping you with it. Here's a photo of my face . . . and another photo of my face . . . and did you get to see my face yet? No? Well, here! Have another photo of my face!
Tip 1: Shift your weight
Would you like your legs to look longer and leaner in photos? I have a trick for you that has been put into practice for centuries: shift your weight to the leg that isn't facing the camera.
The greats employed this posing technique for things like paintings and sculptures: it's the good ol' contrapposto pose. Ever take a look at Michelangelo's "David"? He's definitely not standing there stiffly with his knees locked. Nope, he has one leg bent at the knee, and the other supporting his weight.
We can learn from David and his classical posing. Shifting your weight to your back foot has a magical slimming effect on your legs and torso. If you pop your hip out a little bit on that back leg, then even better; this will add curves to your body that wouldn't be accentuated if you kept your knees locked tight.
On top of that, when you shift your weight to your back leg, it has the happy side effect of causing the leg facing the camera to bend at the knee. Voila! Now you've added one more curve to your body, making for a much more flattering pose. Bonus points if you point your toes; that will make your leg look even longer.
Tip 2: Tuck your hips back
When we stand naturally, we tend to keep our hips directly in line with our torsos; this makes sense, considering that it keeps us balanced and comfortable. But for those of you out there who are a little self conscious about your tummy areas, this tip can help to make you look leaner.
Rather than "sucking it in" and holding your breath for the duration of the photoshoot (resulting in some lovely, delicate blue skin tones and puffy cheeks), try shifting your hips backwards a little bit. This will straighten out your abdomen and pull your tummy taughter, while also highlighting your backside a bit more (no butt pads or implants needed). A little of this can go a long way, so no need to break your back in the process; just like in Tip 1, it's all about weight distribution!
Tip 3: "Float" your arms
This tip may feel a bit unnatural, but when taking photos, try to keep your arms slightly away from your sides, rather than keeping your arms pressed against you.
The goal is to create a little bit of separation and space between your arms and your waist. When you keep your arms closer to your sides, visually, your body appears wider and bulkier because your arms blend in with your torso. Leaving a slight gap between your torso and arms highlights your waist, making you appear slimmer. Hurray for instant, diet and exercise-free slimming!
Looking for a more comfortable solution than "floating" your arms that will achieve the same effect? Try slightly bending your elbows and resting your hands lightly on your hips. Better yet, if you're wearing clothes with pockets, tuck your hands in to allow some space between your arms and your body.
Tip 4: Loosen up those hands!
When people are uncomfortable in front of the camera, they tend to show that tension by bringing their shoulders up and balling up or stiffening their hands. Don't let that be you!
Instead, keep those shoulders low and relax your hands for a much more flattering pose.
Tip 5: Keep your chin single
It's the sad truth that our chins are constantly searching for companionship, usually in the form of other chins.
To avoid creating a double chin that isn't there, or to minimize one and better define your jawline, bring your face (chin included) forward and towards the camera slightly. Or, if you don't want your chin to be lonely anymore, press that chin closer to your neck and watch the extra chins appear out of nowhere!
Tip 6: Keep your chin down
If only I had been reminded of this simple tip when I had my senior pictures taken in high school, I wouldn't cringe so much when I see those pictures now: keep that chin lowered!
Little kids are big culprits of this, but even as an adult, I find my chin floating upward when I get photos taken, creating an ultra-flattering up the nose shot with no jawline in sight. To avoid your nostrils stealing the show, keep your chin lowered and your head pointed ever so slightly downward; this will also draw focus to your eyes and minimize glare if you wear glasses.
Tip 7: Angle your face
Most people's standard reaction when someone breaks out a camera (besides the extremely camera shy, who will run in the opposite direction) is to look straight at the camera and smile. Turning your head and, coincidentally, your shoulders, slightly away from the camera at an angle can emphasize your jawline, minimize broad shoulders, and add some more variety to your photos.
Clients are always a little confused when I tell them to point their head away from the camera while keeping their eyes on me, but trust me! I'm not crazy (at least, not when it comes to posing); I'm just highlighting the pretty angles of your face.
Tip 8: Lean in
This pointer is in the same vein as Tip 5, but it also relies on a basic understanding of how a camera sees.
Cameras don't perceive depth the same way that the human eye sees it, which means that (hurray!) cameras can be tricked. The person, place, or thing that is closest to the camera will, unfailingly, appear to be larger than anything that is farther away. We can use this to our advantage to highlight the characteristics that we'd prefer to highlight and minimize the characteristics that we're less fond of.
When we apply this to posing our faces, all it takes is leaning your head (and, if you want, shoulders) in towards the camera to make your face the star of the photo. The camera won't "see" that you're leaning in; all that it will see is that your face is closest, making your body less of a focal point.
Tip 9: Use perspective to your advantage
Great news! We can apply your newfound understanding of depth and perspective to full and 3/4 length photos, too.
Your body may be fabulous, but sometimes you don't want it to be the focus of the photo (or maybe you do- that's your prerogative.) Either way, to keep your face the focus, you can always have your photographer, photo-taker, or selfie stick positioned above you. This will automatically make your lower body look slimmer, since it is further from the camera lens than your face.
Tip 10: Smile and apply those tips!
A final tip about posing: smile! It'll help you to avoid the "I'm getting a mugshot taken" look of utter misery in pictures. And if all else fails and you can't remember a single posing tip from this blog post, a genuine smile is always a beautiful thing to capture on camera.
Is your mind an utter whirlwind of posing tips that you'll never be able to remember or apply when the time comes? Then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the short form on my Contact page! I would love to guide you through the process to help you to look your absolute best in a personal portrait session!
Do you have questions, comments, or posing tips and tricks of your own that you'd like to share? Please leave them below!