Tips for Taking your Best Photo
Having your photo taken by a professional is a nerve-wracking experience for most. My typical client hasn't spent much time in front of a camera and is unsure of what to do. Don't worry, you are in very capable hands! Everyone feels a little uncomfortable at first, that's completely normal, but by the time our session is over you'll leave feeling confident. With that being said, here are some simple tips and tricks you can use to skip ahead of the learning curve.
1. The Un-selfie. In the current age of SnapChat filters and MySpace-angle selfies, most people have become very accustomed to seeing their faces in a very specific light, from a very specific angle. Even our mirrors show our images in reverse of what we see when photographed. Have someone take photos for you from different angles, and just get used to what you look like. I solemnly swear to take flattering photos of you, but get to know and love your face from un-selfie angles. It's not worse, it's different. Ultimately this is an exercise in self-love and is beneficial even if you don't have an upcoming session!
2. Smize. Tyra Banks coined this phrase, and it's a contracted word for smiling with your eyes. I love to talk about this when people ask me how to get genuine smiles during photos because it is the secret to looking present in your images. The trick to spotting your own fake smiles is to be aware of the muscles in your face. When you laugh, the corners of your eyes turn up, and tighten. If you smile and you don't engage these muscles, it's not going to look authentic. If you can't seem to isolate those muscles, just laugh during your session, everyone does it.
There are lots of other muscles to be aware of as well. Face a mirror strait on and swallow. Notice how when you engage certain muscles, the dreaded double-chin we all worry about is lessened. You can mimic that by pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Now relax your shoulders and hold your head up, then tilt your chin down slightly. Notice how your neck is elongated when you practice good posture? These are subtle, small things to be cognizant of during your shoot. If you forget, don't worry, because I help to remind you to practice these techniques while I shoot.
3. Body Positioning. Don't underestimate the importance of body language, ha! But worrying about how we're moving our bodies is important for more than just voiceless mermaids and sea witches. The first thing to be aware of is our tendency to shrink. We bring in our limbs close to our bodies because subconsciously we're trying to take up as little space as possible and to be small. What we're really doing when we do this is hiding any shape our bodies had and giving ourselves a very boxy shape. Also, pressing our arms against our bodies can make them flatten out and appear wider. By bringing our elbows away from our torso we can give our waist shape and slim our arms.
In terms of positioning our legs, the most one-size-fits-all, flattering pose is contrapposto. Think Michelangelo's David. Put all your weight on one leg and slightly bend the other knee inward. This also combats boxy, boring shapes by making our silhouette appear curvier and more visually interesting. Take this to the next level by turning your hips away from from camera and you've got what is just about the most flattering portrait position.
4. Trust Me. Trust that I always have your best interest and most flattering images in mind. I will take hundreds of photos and only about 10% of them will make it to you. Just think about how many selfies you take before you have the perfect one! The same applies to having your photo taken. Sometimes photos that feel awkward when you take them will turn out to be the best ones. Also, tell me what you're worried about! If you have a favorite side, or if there's something in particular you're self-conscious of. I will do everything I can to alleviate that worry.
5. Relax. Ultimately, try to put your anxieties to rest and understand that nothing is perfect. There will be wind and your hair will get blown around a bit. It might be hot and we could get a little sweaty. It's okay. Did you wake up breaking out the morning of your shoot? You don't need to go overboard with concealer, I can fix simple blemishes. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and not sweat the small stuff.