A Photographer’s Top 5 Ways to Look Great in a Photo


A Photographer's Top 5 Ways to Look Great in a Photo

As a portrait photographer, I have photographed many women and families over the years. For the most part, everyone is a little nervous about what the camera will tell. As mothers, our bodies have changed and it can take years to accept the changes. I see many avoiding all pictures until they’ve undergone the lifestyle change they’ve been working on.

There are many incredible lifestyle photographers who document real life exactly as it is seen by the eye, unposed and unplanned. However, I am a posed photographer. This means most of my clients come to me because they want help capturing images they believe represent the best versions of themselves at that particular point in time. We may do a little more skin retouching, very strategic posing, and wardrobe selections too. Cell phones are really amazing pocket cameras, but I know I am not alone when I tell you that I have untagged myself from a few photos I’ve seen online.

I want you to have pictures you are proud to print and hang on the wall. So, here are my top 5 tips for looking your best in pictures.

1. Lighting

I can’t say this enough. Proper lighting is key. If you’re standing outside and grandma wants to snag a photo, find a shady spot to fit the family. This will allow more even lighting to fill faces and will encourage less squinting from everyone. If you’re inside, aim to take photos near large windows. Light is your friend; it will smooth facial imperfections, soften wrinkles, and help the camera capture a sharp image.

2. Maybe side angles aren’t for you

For some reason, almost all my clients immediately pop their foot out, give me a body profile, and put one hand on their hip. This can work with the right angles and hand placements, but without assistance, it may not be the most flattering for my fellow curvy girls. We want curves and shape, but we want them in the right place. We can shape around hips and legs to give an amazing hourglass figure to just about anyone. Face the camera, sit into your hip, cross one bent knee over the back knee, and pop your hands to your waist or higher. We want to be able to see space between your arm and body. This thins you — don’t try to hide the sides girl.

3. What’s closest to the camera takes focus

Anyone else’s husband immediately drop to their knees to take your photo from below? I really don’t understand the universal Dad photographer stance because it is not flattering. I reserve that for clients who want dramatic fashion posing and it is very planned. I certainly don’t want my underbelly demanding 30% of the photo. Practice with some selfies and notice how angling the camera slightly and moving it around changes the shape of your body and face. Lean into the camera and see how your face will take focus and your body will slim. Most cameras give a slight distortion, so use that to your advantage.

4. Lengthen the body and control your chin

I notice a lot of moms who squat and seem to hunker into photos to be with their kids. Try to find ways to lengthen your body. Pull the shoulders back, sit up straight and lengthen the legs and neck. Chins are important here. We want separation. If you are on the lean side, take images at eye level and if you are curvier, angle the camera down from slighting above eye level. This creates shadow under the chin, thins the face and makes for a more flattering headshot. You can also pull your tongue to the top of your mouth to lift the neck slightly. This is definitely something you can practice in the mirror too.

Caucasian girl with double chin
Joyful smiling bright beautiful female college student headshot portrait in the university library

5. Let loose and have more pictures taken

Have fun and get in more pictures. The more pictures you are in, the more comfortable you will become and the more practice you can get in. Lean into the camera, make a face, play model for a minute. It can really be fun!

Pleased plump woman laughing
Excited plus size model gesturing thumb ups
Excited plus size female gesturing V sign

There are so many other tips and tricks, but I will stick to those for now. The biggest tip of all is to get in the picture. I have been a photographer long enough to know that every moment with our babies is precious. Your loved ones won’t care about any of this when photos are the only thing they have left. So love yourself, smile and when you need to, hire a good photographer.

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Jessica Pope
Hello! I'm Jessica. I grew up in Northern Indiana where I joined the Navy right out of high school. After 3 deployments and some amazing port calls I married a fellow sailor and began a family. We moved around a few times in search of a forever city. After a few visits to the Chattanooga area we fell in love and set in motion our move to the highly recommended Signal Mountain. I am slowly chipping away at my marketing degree while working part time at a local marketing agency. I am also a huge portrait photography lover and have a small studio up here on Signal Mountain where I shoot luxury portrait for children and women. You can check out my work at www.venyaportrait.com. We have 2 kiddos, Jazzy(6) who's larger than life and Joseph(3) who is taking his sweet time growing up. We have always planned to adopt as well and are currently awaiting a match for a big sister in need of a loving home. I also volunteer as a court advocate for abused and neglected children in the area. It's a great program and you can check out more at https://www.tncasa.org/. You can find me binging true crime podcasts and dark drama shows late at night. I'm a serial hobbyist, I'll never turn down an iced coffee, I actually try hard not to cuss like a sailor and I love meeting different kinds of people.