How to Look Good in Photos

March 11th, 2010

We have a huge photo wall in our house. It’s filled with candids and casuals, but I want a professional family photo done someday. As a goof, my husband keeps vying for one with a cheesy starry background, circa 1988 yearbook photos. I have enough photographer-friends (even my daughter’s godmom is one) that I should be able to make this happen (the photo itself, not the starry background…sorry, honey). But, there’s a problem.

It’s not you. It’s me. The thought of a professional photograph brings up an issue. I have no idea how to smile. It’s a forced mess that creates a double chin sometimes, sometimes it just makes my eyes disappear. Sometimes both.

This problem reared its unphotogenic head years ago, when I was around 7 and forgot how to smile in photos. (I also forgot how to use a straw once, but that’s another story.) There’s evidence of this time in my childhood–photos in my parents’ house where everyone looks nice, smiling gentle happy smiles, and Cheryl looks…constipated.

With a family photo shoot on the horizon, I wanted to be prepared. I asked  Suzanne Keck Martignoni (pictured above), who has modeled on and off the catwalk for the likes of Armani, Versace, Chanel and more. Here are her top tips on being picture pretty, straight from the glossy pages of a magazine. Even though I’ve traded in my Glamour for  Family Circle.

  • Always face directly into the light. This minimizes shadows and odd shades on your features.
  • Don’t squint.
  • Elongate your neck by sticking chin slightly forward to minimize double chins and neck lines. If you drop your chin too much, it’ll also create dark shadows under eyes.
  • Never turn your head too far to the side while looking over your shoulder. If one must do this, drop shoulder and push back to pull skin down and elongate the neck.
  • Practice your smile in the mirror. If you don’t like your smile, experiment with different ways of moving your mouth to achieve a  more appealing smile.
  • To minimize a thin, broad smile, pull your bottom lip down further than normal to create the visual of a fuller mouth.
  • If you have chubby cheeks or you don’t find your jaw bones showing enough, the trick is when not smiling or only grinning, open your teeth 3 or4 mm in the mouth as it’s closed. This will draw your cheeks in, drop your jaw more and make your face appear slimmer. Stretch your neck out simultaneously to avoid a double chin.
  • Never purse your lips. This makes your mouth look tense.

Here’s a quick clip from CBS’s The Early Show, in which celebrity photographer Davis Factor speaks about the number one mistake people make when posing for a picture. He also shares some tips for a flattering postures and smiles. Cheese.

Do you like how you look in photos? Let me know with a comment!

Photo credit: Peter Mellekas

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3 Responses to “How to Look Good in Photos”

  1. [...] got a few mint sprigs from a friend of mine some years back. I thought she was doing me a favor. As it turns out, my friend [...]

  2. [...] on how to use makeup for a flawless photo. With Debra’s tips, and a few ideas from former model Suzanne Martignoni on how to naturally pose, we’ll all smile pretty and put our best Facebook faces forward this [...]

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