How To Look Confident In Photos, How To Pose For Photos, What To Wear In Photos, How To Smile In Photos, How To Prepare For A Headshot – How To Be Photogenic
Most people hate taking photos or at least the way they look in their photos. In this day in age, photos are everywhere. More and more photos are taken than ever before and the trend shows no slowing. From 2010 to 2017, the number of photos taken has tripled (according to the NYTimes).
The increase of smartphones with cameras coupled with the technological improvements in camera phones over the years has led to anyone and everyone taking more photos than ever before. That includes people who are terrible at taking photos of others and those who use camera flashes on their phone (tip: never use the camera flash on your phone).
Why Am I So Bad At Taking Photos? Why Do I Look So Much Worse In Photos?
Most people are unable to pose on demand. It’s uncomfortable holding a smile. It’s super uncomfortable posing for a photo when others are watching you. Furthermore, it’s difficult to smile when you don’t have a reason to. This is why people hire a good photographer. It’s not a matter of clicking a button but a great photographer will put you at ease, make you feel good and get the best photos out of you.
Taking photos (like most things in life) is a skill. It requires patience, practice and lots of preparation. Take for instance actors, models and other celebrities. They are paid to be in the limelight and in front of the camera. Many of them don’t take unless they have the perfect lighting, right clothing, right photographer and flattering environment and background.
Surge In Photo-Taking, Editing, Sharing & Posting
The increase in use and adoption of LinkedIn photos, dating photos, social media photos and personal branding photos for websites has led to a greater demand for more photos. In this day in age, people have different photos for their GMail accounts, Uber accounts, Slack accounts, Tinder profiles, LinkedIn profiles, work ID badges and Facebook pages.
One would assume that the more photos taken over time, the more practice people should have in having their photos taken leading to better photos. This is not the case.
Uncorrected bad habits, lack of feedback from trusted sources and front-facing cameras aka selfies, has aided the increase of bad photos across the world. 15-20 years ago, people would only capture photos for special occasions: graduations, weddings, travel, galas, anniversaries, reunions and birthday parties (typically the best types of photos for dating profiles).
Now people snap photos of themselves in the most mundane, uneventful and unnecessary occasions i.e. laying down on the couch, in bed, in the bathroom, in the hallways of their home, in the seats of their cars and gross ball pits (aka Museum of Ice Cream).
No More Selfies In Dating Profiles: Why Do I Look So Weird In Pictures
Selfies have ruined society more than anything else I can think of. It’s one of the worst types of photos to use for professional sites and dating sites. Unless you have an epic selfie from a travel destination or with a celebrity, stop taking selfies.
Aside from selfies distorting your face and making you look wider, they usually lack any environment and background for context. Excessive selfies could signal lack of friends, insecurity with letting others taking your photos and at the very least weird, unflattering angles.
In professional outlets, selfies are viewed as being unprofessional. Sure there are a few exceptions to this i.e. CEO taking a selfie with the company but these exceptions are far and few between. Furthermore, most people don’t know where to look when taking a photo – most people are looking to the side just slightly and come off like a deer in the headlights look (especially true when flashes are used or being told to hold a pose).
Selfie Distortion Correction App; How Do I Stop Self Distortion?
Sometimes apps like Adobe Lightroom can adjust for distortion but these tools are ineffective if you are too close to the camera, have short arms or took the photo from a weird angle. Lightroom and other similar apps used by photographers work best for more distant photos that require distortion correction i.e. real estate photos etc.
The best thing you can do is have the person in your group with the longest arms take the photo. If not possible, use a timer or tripod. If that is not possible, ask a stranger to take the photo. Some of the best photos I have of myself are from complete strangers. It’s typically easier to do at an event or traveling where you have an occasion or don’t know anyone.
If you must take a selfie, use the rear facing camera. The front facing cameras on phone are too zoomed in for selfies. Taking photos with the back camera gives you a little more space to work with.
Optimal Wardrobe Attire For Photos, Best Oufits And Colors For Photos
There are two old sayings, 1) “If you look good you’ll feel good” and 2) “Clothes make the man.” Outfits, style and fit are crucial to taking good photos. It’s important to put thought into your wardrobe and invest in your appearance as it will pay dividends in the way you look and the way others perceive you. The colors you select, the outfits you wear, the fit of the clothes suggest signal things about your style, maturity, intelligence and trustworthiness.
There are a few things to take note of when shopping for clothes:
-Avoid polyester tops as those tend to trap bacteria and cause more body odor.
-Dress for the person you want to meet, job you want or the reactions you want to draw from others.
-Make sure your clothes fit. Many US brands are made for heavier bodies where European brands are made for slimmer fits.
-Stick to brighter colors like pastels and vibrant colors to convey more approachability.
-Avoid red if you have breakouts or acne.
-Avoid brown colors if you have dark skin.
Energy, Look Alive In Your Photos – Smiling In Photos
Look alive is something you might have heard before if you hate taking photos. Looking lethargic is never a good idea. A light run or workout is one way to improve your look for photos. Hydrate, get good sleep, wash your face, wear deodorant.
Avoid that burrito for lunch, take photos early in the night if you plan on drinking and surround yourself with people, music, decor and activities that provide excitement and joy for you.
Live A Healthy Lifestyle, Take Care Of Yourself
You can only do so much the day of or the night before photos to prepare for photos. A lot of what makes for a good photos is preparation well in advance of the shoot. Exercising, watching what you eat, limiting dairy if it makes you break out, avoid heavy greasy foods that put you to sleep. Depending on the photos you are taking and the length of the shoot, it can take time and energy to pose, smile and be patient.
The better you feel about your body the easier it is to get ready for photos. Hydrating also helps to keep you dry and reduces body odor which can derail your confidence and ruin photos if your underarms are wet or face is glistening with sweat.
Practice Smiling In Photos And Offline
Smiling is always a challenge. People have different mouths, teeth, jawlines, body shapes etc. that it makes it impossible to know what makes for a good smile. Sometimes it’s a wide open smile, other times it’s a closed contain smile and in some cases, it’s all about the eyes and body language that present an approachable, warm look. Practice smiling in front of the mirror, ask trusted friends for help. Take note if too much of your gums show in your smiles.
Relax the eyes if you look too intense (bug-eyed) when wide open. Relax your face and jaw. Place the tongue at the top of your mouth. When your eyes smile, you smile. Brush your teeth and practice good oral hygiene. Some people achieve a look of confidence without smiling by pushing their tongue up against the top of their mouths.
Limit or avoid coffee and red wine. Smile because you are enjoying the moment not because someone told you to smile. It’s easier to smile when you are enjoying yourself and the person you are with rather than being forced to smile. Making sure your smiles are genuine go a long way to having better smiles.
Think of things and people that make you happy, dig deep and be goofy/playful, or think about that attractive person you have a crush on in your life. Smile a little each day. Celebrate the things in your life that bring you joy no matter how small or stupid you think they are.
Remember smiles are infectious – surround yourself with people that make you smile.
Backgrounds & Environments
Backgrounds often go ignored when trying to compose a good photo. It’s not so much that they take away from you the subject but rather people are in better moods and enjoying themselves in more scenic locations, gorgeous travel destinations and epic lookouts. It’s the reason why people are smiling when traveling abroad.
Getting yourself pumped is easier to do when you appreciate where you are and the places, people and culture around you. You don’t have to travel far to attain this feeling – walking up to peaks, visiting bodies of water, going to restaurants and bars with your favorite drink or bite all elicit a similar feeling of bliss and enjoyment.
Choose Soft, Diffused Lighting For Photos
Lighting is everything when it comes to photos. Shooting near sunrise and sunset provides softer, more diffused lighting which is flattering to subjects. Harsh light during the middle of the day and camera flashes at night cause uneven lighting, highlight oils in the face, and cause people to blink. If you can’t shoot at optimal times, shoot in the shade with reflective (indirect) lighting around you either from light walls or windows.
Never use the camera flash built into a camera or phone, these are harsh bursts of lights. If anything use 3rd party flashes or use the night photo function on your phone.
How To Make Your Face More Photogenic: Take Care Of Your Face
Taking care of your face if paramount. Even if you go about having your photos edited, photoshopped or retouched (I don’t recommend this, I prefer to capture people organically as possible), having red marks or breakouts can cause people to feel uncertain about themselves and their appearance.
Seeing a dermatologist is highly recommended so you can get a handle on your face but more so your confidence. If you have redness or break out often, avoid harsh lighting situations, avoid wearing red tops and avoid touching your face often. Invest in a good face scrub and eye cream. Use concealer (lightly) in a pinch.
If you are going to an event, take photos before you get tipsy, hammered. Some people get a little red and that can be rather unflattering. The trade off can mean better, more relaxed photos so balance redness and relaxation. For some, that can mean taking photos during your first or second drink.
How Do I Take Flattering Photos: The Most Flattering Angles For Photos
Angles do wonders when it comes to photos. I am not advocating you mislead others with slimming tactics of taking photos from super high, awkward angles but rather knowing the simple rules of flattering angles. Take photos at or slightly above your eye level. Photos beneath the chine are rather unflattering (turkey necks).
Bringing your face toward the camera as if you were trying to hold an orange under your chin is the best way to get strong jawlines in your photos. Also, try taking photos from at least 5-10 feet away. Photos taken from close angles can distort your face making you look wider.
Rotating your body 5-20 degrees away can help to add dimension and character to your body and frame. Put the weight on the balls of your feet – don’t lean back, don’t life you chin up too high.
How To Pose For Photos: How To Pose Naturally
Standing upright or sitting with your back straight or slightly leaning forward toward the camera help establish confident poses. Shying away typically adds layers to neck folds, suggests insecurity and even highlights the area under your chin. If you do lean slightly toward the camera while standing or seated, try to keep the back strong, flat. Bending the back too much makes people slouch. Relax the shoulders to not feel so uptight.
Most people approach photos like they do when they go to the DMV or get their passport photos – they stand aimlessly in front of a wall and stand directly in front of the camera with their body flat to the walls. These flat, symmetrical photos are often rigid and stiff. I am all about asymmetrical poses and angles when I take photos of people.
Slightly bending the limbs (arms and legs) helps to relax the body (most people bend one leg slightly and keep the other straight). Turning one foot toward the camera and one slightly away helps to break tension in the photo. Sharp elbow bends can suggest more intense poses (smaller, wider bends are recommended).
Avoid Shy Poses In Your Photos, How To Look Confident In Photos
A shy pose is one that suggests nervousness, indecisiveness or lack of confidence. It’s typically the opposite of being photogenic. While not a perfect science, shy poses contain various aspects including: knees bent inward, feet pointing inward, crouching down, leaning back, bulging eyes, sad or pouty faces, bringing down your head into your shoulders, looking away, pupils at the top of the eyes, crossing your arms inward, holding your hands like if needing to go pee, fingers around the mouth or an I don’t know look.
There are ways to make these items appear less shy or less unflattering but they require good context, self-awareness, self-confidence and self-deprecating humor almost if you were caught in the act of being up to no good or caught red-handed in embarassment. It’s a hard look to pull off put it is possible with good coaching, patience, and practice.
Should You Look At The Camera In Your Photos?
I have very strong opinions about this whether for dating photos or professional headshots.
Final Thoughts On How Become More Photogenic
Avoid adding filters, photoshopping images or trying to take photos from weird (high angles). People can easily tell when a photo is airbrushed and it is obvious insecurity is at play. Always strive for natural photos and take time to practice smiles, poses, outfit combinations, lighting and surrounding yourself with places, people and environments that put you in a good mood.
It’s important to snap a few extra frames as it’s natural and expected for people to blink or move when posing for photos.
In extreme cases, being camera shy can lead to camera shy phobia or photophobia – inabilty to look at yourself in a mirror or in photos. Everyone has the ability to improve their looks, posture and facial expressions in photos but you need to know what clothes, lighting, poses, angles and environments complement your look.
Without help, one can develop extreme levels of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence or even depression. There are frameworks and tips but largely everyone is different and there is no perfect blueprint that works for everyone.
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
Dating Profile Critique
For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.
For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/
Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More): https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/
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