How to Look Good in Photos
This is a blog post that I have been thinking about for a long time – it’s all about you, your face and the lens eye.
It is primarily aimed at corporate photo “victims”; people who are obliged to have their photos taken for work, especially those who are nervous about how they look in pictures. I’m sure it is also relevant for people wanting nice LinkedIn photos, wedding couples, facebook statuses and so on, but those are situations in which you typically have more control over when and where the photo is taken. This blog post is for people who are going to have to smile for the camera, regardless of their bad hair day or 5 o’clock stubble.
Before I get going I want to reiterate that, above all else, what makes you look beautiful in a photo is being yourself. Relax and smile your natural smile – nothing I can recommend will work better. And don’t forget the undisputable fact that you will always analyse yourself in a photo more than anyone else. So please get some perspective, accept your humorous self-obsessive qualities and relax in the knowledge that people are probably only looking at themselves anyway!
That said, when you are obliged to be snapped for that annual report or an article in the newspaper about your latest research, there are some tricks to make you look your best. You, the photographer, your audience and your boss will all get along a lot better if you apply a few simple techniques. I will address these over the next couple of blogs, and I am happy to respond to any questions in the responses afterwards.
You will not believe how often I turn up to pre-arranged photoshoots where staff have been asked to dress nicely for the occasion and yet half the guys are still in Nike T-shirts and grey traccy-b’s. I’m not here to question people’s fashion sense – if this is a photoshoot for a band or a sports team then by all means you are going to be dressed differently. But if you are in an office and a part of your product is to look professional to other businesses/customers then casual Friday needs to take a week off.
Guys: when it comes to a professional photo you are always safer going for a classic smart option – shirts, jackets, ties.
Ladies: it’s true, you are usually better dressed than your male counterparts, and have a variety options available to you. There are however a couple of basic rules which apply to 99% of women – scarfs. I´m not talking about big wooly numbers to brave the Nordic winters, rather the daytime attar; silk neckerchiefs, pashminas, office shawls, pin-tied ascots. All look lovely in real life, but in photos they obscure your neck and make you look squat. When I take photos of women with indoor scarfs I always take a couple with them on first to see if it works, but then also them politely ask them to remove it. Seeing as you cannot rely on your photographer to take two options, I would recommend, as a rule of thumb, no scarfs.
My final point on clothes is to work with what you’ve got. Once you are sat in front of that camera it is too late to get changed, but do take the time to look in the mirror and adjust your collar, check for egg on your tie and brush any dandruff of your shoulders! A good photographer will notice these things and they should edit out white spots on your clothes, but don’t rely on it. Postproduction cannot do up you flies… well, maybe it can, but let’s be honest – nobody wants to get in there with their paintbrush!
Obviously it is the photographer’s responsibility to position the model and we usually take many photos and only choose the best, but I often find that the first shots I take are the most natural. So the quicker you get “into position” the better. Many of us have a tendency to slump over our desks and the very first thing I ask people to do is to sit up. It can make a world of difference, as this fella above demonstrates!
Smiling and opening your eyes should be a given, though I appreciate that repeated flash can be a strain. Ask for a minute or two to relax your face and eyes if you feel strained.
Timing and organisation
If it is your role to organise the photoshoot for your office there are a couple of things to take into consideration:
– people look tired first thing in the mornings and right at the end of the day. Dark shadows under the eyes are a nightmare to edit and most photograhers will be resistent to changing their subjects’ faces too much anyway. Try to organise your photoshoots mid-morning if possible.
– Tell your employees! It is inexcusable to spring this on them on the day, you should also give them a reminder the day before, and don’t be afraid to set out some ground rules regarding dress code.
– You will probably be looking for days when the majority of your staff are in at the same time, to save on extra call out fees for the photographer. Often this is during conferences or away days, which is fine. But try and avoid having people all turn up for their portraits at the same time: many people get embarrassed about having their photos taken infront of others, and whilst cracking a joke can bring a smile, open mouth laughs and red sweaty faces are not a good look on your contact page.
– Finally, do discuss locations with your photographer. The simplest advice is to show them examples of other corporate shots you would like to mimic: will it be inside or out? will you have plain background or an office environment? will eveyone be looking the same way in the photo?
Part II: Next week stylist Hilde Sveli bring you some tips on make up, and we will have some grooming tips for the guys too. Stay tuned.