25 March 2012

Camera loves you

Oh my, how many times have I heard the statement “I just never look good on photos!“, before I started a shooting with someone. The thing is, it is not how you actually look, but which pose you take in front of the camera. Next thing is - spontaneous photos are usually better. Well, that might be true because you don't walk around with your facial muscles paralyzed, the way you stiff them in front of the camera, turning your wonderful face into a scary grin. Relax, it is not your fault, but you must become aware of it first to be able to overcome it.

Scared much? :)

First I'm going to cover the basis on why do you look weird on photos. The truth is about to be revealed ;) The moment you see a camera pointing at your direction, you get the need to look the best you can, but with a fear not to turn out stupid. So, what do you do then? You concentrate on your smile, forgetting that the rest of your face plays an important role in the picture as well. Next thing you do is hold your smile for too long (while waiting for the picture to be taken), so it becomes more of a grin than an actual smile. You squeeze your eyes, look straight into the camera and pull your chin back. Altogether, you deliberately paralyze your face thinking that it will make you look better, but what you actually achieve is what you later call a psycho face :).

All of those things are one big fat NO-NO!

Consider posing for a photo like dancing. The more relaxed you are the more fluid your moves are, the more natural you look. You must never stay in one position for too long, otherwise it might look forced and stiff. When people are used as subjects, photography is mostly about catching a certain moment or a movement. Now, you have to be the dancer who will imagine that moment or a movement and recreate it. Use your whole body, doesn’t matter which part of you will finally be photographed, “dance” through the imagined situation and you will look natural.

Now that we have explained how and why do the posing problems appear, let’s strip them to their very basics and find what is it exactly that makes you look bad.

Position of your head in relation to the camera
Never turn your face straight towards the camera, unless the photographer really wants you to. It should always be under a small angle. That way you will hide all of those tiny irregularities that are hardly noticeable in real life because of the constant movement, but when they are frozen you have enough time to look for each one of them (and end up being depressed) ;).
Don’t get fooled and think it is enough to just turn your head anywhere because too much of an angle can potentially cause damage. So, what is the right measure!? You can rotate your head as long as your nose doesn’t get in a way between the eye that is further from the camera lens and lens itself. Why? Because it means your eye will probably be partially covered by your nose and you are likely to end up looking cross-eyed

Turning your head too far aside

2) Chin
There are actually three possible movements you can do with your chin that will affect the photo. Pulling it back, lifting it and lowering it.
The first one is absolutely the WORST thing you can do, and at the same time, it is the most often thing people do when they are being photographed. I am not exactly sure why people tend to do that, it seems to me that it gives people a sense of comfort in an extremely uncomfortable situation. Anyhow, instead of safety, it grants you something else – a double chin.
Lifting your chin is potentially dangerous because it visually shortens your face, so, if you already have a roundish face, it might look strange. Along with it, if you have bigger nostrils, they might really stand out.
Lastly, you can lower your chin. It sounds so easy, but in reality many people don’t notice the difference between doing that and pulling the chin back (similar muscles are being used). That is something you most definitely must practice in front of a mirror, gently moving your chin up and down, without creating the double chin along the way.
Correctly lowered chin will hide anything that might look like a double chin and as a bonus; it will give a note of mystery and elegance to your look. :)

Pulling chin back

Lifting chin

Chin too low

3) Eyes wide open
That one might be hard to explain, but I will do my best. People look good when you can see their eyes and not just a flat line of something that was supposed to be an eye. What I am trying to say is that you have to spread your eyelids like you are surprised, but without raising your eyebrows. That way, both sclera and iris will be shown well in the picture, making your eyes extremely noticeable and attractive.

Putting hair behind ears and squinting

4) Smile
Such an easy but in the same time a demanding task! When you smile, you have to smile right so that it would look nice in the picture.
First of all, you have to practice in front of a mirror until you learn how to do it without squinting (without using the upper muscles) at the same time. Once you have managed to do that, than you can “add some smile” to your eyes as well, but no more than just a bit around the corners.
You can smile with or without showing your teeth. That choice is the one you will have to make. If you decide to smile just with your lips, than make sure that you don’t squeeze your lips because it might come out as you were disgusted with something at the moment the picture was taken.
Practice so you can just lift the corners of your lips, while having other muscles relaxed.
Now, as for the smiling with your teeth shown, there are two things you shouldn’t do. First one is clutching your teeth together and then smiling – it doesn’t make you pretty, it makes you look aggressive and frightening. Second one is biting your lip while smiling – if you are going to smile, than separate your teeth from your lip, don’t yawn, of course, but biting your lip just makes you look lipless. :)

Clutching teeth and squinting

5) The perfect posture
Last but not the least important is how are you stand in front of the camera. Body language is extremely powerful and noticeable on photographs. So, when you are being photographed, straighten your back, stand with your body turned to a side just a bit (same rule applies as for the face) and make your hands busy (in other words, don’t leave them flapping around pointlessly). In example, you can hug someone, put your hand in your pocket, wave them around, anything, but never just leave them hanging. There must be some muscle usage in them.

Bad posture

These are the best tips I can give you so far in one post, Iva is already laughing at me that I have written a new book once again, but I am willing to do that even if there will be at least one person willing to read it. :)

Good luck! :)

I hope this was helpful, and for all doubts, you know where you can get your questions answered! :)
Twitter/Facebook FTW! ;)


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