Even those the camera doesn’t love can make the most of what they have. When you need a good photo of yourself for work, a family reunion, or social networking, these tips will do just the trick.
Position yourself perfectly
Don’t drop your chin; it makes you look as though you’ve misplaced your neck. Don’t tilt your head up too far unless you want a wallet-size shot of your nostrils. And don’t cock it to the side “because it just makes you look dumb and your cheeks look saggy,” fashion photographer Diane Vasil says bluntly.
Stand with your legs a few feet apart, or pose with one crossed over the other. “It makes them look better,” she says, adding that another option—standing sideways, head turned toward the camera—can make you look thinner.
To avoid a shot that looks too stiff and posed, lean on a chair or a couch. And instead of letting your hands dangle, put them on your hips or cross them in front of you.
Check the light
If you’re being photographed outside, try to schedule the session early in the morning or late in the day, when the light is most flattering, suggests New York City–based photographer David Johnson.
Or try standing in front of the shady side of a building, which will offer a softer light, he says.
Wear that one thing in your wardrobe that always makes you feel attractive, says Vasil.
Avoid colours that are close to your skin tone, such as pastel pink, beige, or brown—they can wash you out. And pass up busy patterns, stripes, and polka dots, which can be distracting.
For women, a crisp white button-down blouse (à la Lauren Bacall) is preferable to a white T-shirt. For men, Johnson recommends layering a jacket or V-neck sweater over a collared shirt to “add some geometry and interest to the shot.”
Read more: How to take a photo for a dating profile
Size up your face
Models are well aware of how their features play from different angles. Take a good long look in the mirror to see which side of your face looks better.
You can also learn a thing or two by playing with self-photo programs on your computer, reader, or smartphone, or have someone photograph you from different vantage points to figure out your “good side”—and remember it the next time someone comes at you with a camera.
Skip the cheese
“Better to laugh rather than say cheese,” says Vasil. “You’ll get a more natural grin.” Another way to ensure a fresh, authentic expression: Just before the picture is snapped, look away, then quickly look back while breaking into a smile.