By Stephanie Simpson
I’m going to say it here. There’s no such thing as photogenic. There’s no magical set of facial features that makes a camera lens like one person more than another. In general, “photogenic” boils down to COMFORT in front of the camera.
As a professional photographer, helping my clients be comfortable in front of my camera is part of the job. But what if there is no professional photographer around if a camera points in your direction? Here are 5 tried-and-true tips for helping you feel more confident in front of the camera.
1. STAND IN GREAT LIGHT
For photographers, lighting is everything. Great light solves a lot of problems. If you have your pick of places to stand for your pictures, choose a spot where you can stand in the shade and face the light in front of you (don’t stand with the sun behind you). If you’re outside, stand in the shade facing bright, indirect light. If you’re inside, face a window just out of range of the bright direct sunlight.
If you stand right in the direct sun, the light will be unkind to your skin. It will make wrinkles stand out, give you dark circles under your eyes, and you’ll probably be squinting, too.
To solve this problem, stand in the shade, but look towards a nice bright area. If you don’t have your pick of places to stand, never fear, tips 2-5 will have you covered.
2. STAND WITH YOUR WEIGHT ON THE BACK FOOT.
Lenses work like this: if you want something to look bigger, put it closer to the lens. Want it to look smaller? Put it farther away from the lens. Most people want their eyes to look bigger and their butts/hips to look smaller, so the eyes should be closer to the camera than the butt.
To do this and not look weird, stand with one foot slightly in front of the other, then put your weight on your back foot (the one farthest from the camera) and it will minimize the size of your butt relationship to the lens. If you want to take it a step further, push your butt slightly away from camera, and your face slightly towards camera. These are small moves, so don’t overdo it, but you’ll be amazed at the difference a small tweak can make.
3. space around the body
The quickest way to make you look wider is to hold your arms at your sides. But wider isn’t really the goal, is it? A little bit of space between your arms and your body can work wonders for helping you look thinner. The classic way to do this is to put one hand on your waist. A more relaxed take on this is to hook your thumb into your pocket or belt loop. This will make your elbow stick out to the side ever so slightly, giving you a natural and relaxed pose with space around the body.
4. Chin forward and down
I say it maybe a hundred times during photo shoots. “Bring your chin forward and down.” This is the magic sauce for making your face look great in pictures and for you to look connected in your images. By pushing your chin way forward (like a turtle), you define the shape of the face, eliminate a double chin, put more light on your face, and bring your eyes closer to the lens (making them look bigger).
With your chin forward, now push the chin down. This will feel unnatural, but trust me, it’s magic. If you hold your head up high like you’re proud, it can make you look aloof or uninterested in pictures. By moving your chin forward and down, your eyes are more level with the camera and you look more connected. Think about the best date you’ve ever been on, you bring your chin down and really connect with the eyes.
5. Take a deep breath and chuckle
It sounds silly, but if you take a deep breath and then chuckle a bit while someone is taking your picture, you will look relaxed and have a natural smile. You don’t need a big goofy laugh. A bit of a chuckle will do. Just make sure you don’t let your chin go up while you’re doing it. No one wants to look up your nose as you laugh.
Putting it all together
Once you practice these tips a bit, you’ll be a pro every time someone points an iPhone in your direction.
- Stand in great light
- Set your feet so one is in front of the other and put your weight on the back foot
- Put one thumb in your pants pocket or belt loop
- Bring your chin forward and down
- Take a deep breath and chuckle a bit.
Remember these, and you’ll look great in pictures every time. They’ll be calling you “photogenic.”
Stephanie Simpson is CEO of Simpson Brand Creative. Since 1998, she has been building professional brands, promoting countless celebrities including Beyoncé, Zach Ephron, Katie Holmes, Adam Levine, and helping business owners and entrepreneurs around the country.
Equipped with a Master’s Degree in cinematography and photography, she uses the skills she learned working in Hollywood to help business owners who are scaling their companies showcase their authority, position themselves as experts in their field, and create a brand that attracts powerful opportunities.