look great in photos

Does saying, “Cheese” really work?

In this era of smart phones, social media, Instagram and email – it feels as though people are taking pictures constantly… and then posting where other people can see them. Yikes!  I have done some research to help us all have a better chance of looking like friendly, healthy, thinking humans in these pics and not under-slept zombies.



You can learn a lot from photos of yourself you like. Do some homework. Look for your best angle and favorite expression. Look hard at the photos you dislike – what should you avoid? What is the most flattering position and expression for you?




Image: Bruce Mars

The smile says it all.

  • Smile naturally by thinking about something which gives you joy – a person, a pet, a moment, a place, a feeling, a taste, a song – your choice. Think of something which makes you laugh.
  • An overly big smile looks ‘cheesy’ and makes your eyes squint and your cheeks puff out.
  • No smile makes you look angry or sullen.
  • Do you like to smile with your lips open or closed? The pros suggest that you open your mouth slightly so that your lower lip matches the curve of your upper teeth.
  • A full smile will crinkle your eyes a little.

What will you wear?

  • Wear clothes in which you feel natural and confident. Surprisingly, it is as much about how you feel in a picture as what you have on.
  • Choose a timeless ensemble. We all have fashion choices we regret, try not to immortalize them in a photo.
  • Hint: Darker clothes make you look thinner. Wear patterns wisely (and sparingly). Choose a scarf, tie, skirt or blouse to jazz up a more neutral outfit.



Here is what the people who look good in photos know.

  • Use your tongue. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth when you smile. It lifts under your chin and elongates your neck. It will have the added benefit of making you smile at your weirdness.
  • Elongate your neck and push your forehead and chin forward, even it feels awkward. This position helps define your jawline and gives your face a more angular, lifted look.
  • Don’t look straight ahead at the camera because the absence of shadows can make your face look wider or larger. Stand slightly sideways and tilt your chin a little bit – upward or downward.
  • Look at something just above your natural line of sight – above the camera lens.
  • Stand in a photo if you can. Use good posture, stand up straight. You will look strong and confident.
  • The pros say that turning to a 45-degree angle is a flattering pose. Twist your body 45 degrees with the arm closest to the camera on your hip. Put one foot in front of the other, toe pointed at the camera and your weight on your back leg. Alternatively, just hold your arms slightly out in front of yourself – don’t flatten your arms and exaggerate them.
  • If you are standing, cross your ankles, starting at the calf. This slightly casual pose will make your legs look long and your hips look narrow. If you are sitting when the camera appears, straight-up and cross your legs at your ankles.


How to behave in a group photo?

It is OK if each of you strikes a different pose. Keep your eyes open, try to look natural and follow the tips for individual photos above.

If you can manage make-up, here are some guidelines.

  • Don’t overdo it. Look natural.
  • Look for shadows on your face by tucking your chin down when you look in the mirror (close the bathroom door when you do this, or your family will laugh at you).
  • Concealer will hide the shadows and other trouble spots like red areas or dark circles under your eyes.
  • Your forehead, nose, cheeks and chin can look shiny; put translucent powder on them.
  • Put some blush on your cheeks or just pinch them a little right before the picture to give them some color. Try not to get caught pinching yourself by your family, they may worry.
  • The eyes are the windows to the soul…use some eyeliner and mascara to make sure your eyes get the attention they deserve.

Hair can look flat. Put your head down and flip your hair , then give it a quick brush.

The best advice of all, and maybe the hardest…. is to loosen up… don’t try too hard.

Most photos taken of you will be when you are among family and friends. Passport, Costco and DMV photos don’t count, and look how they usually turn out. Don’t overthink the ‘posing’. Just being your fun self is always better than being stilted or forced.

Look good on video conferences;

During these days in Covid19 quarantine, you’re likely to show-up on Zoom or Facetime. Here are some tips for looking good online;

1) Natural light is best, face the window
2) Make sure your background is neat, tidy and not busy/distracting
4) Follow make-up and dress codes in this “Look your best in photos” article
5) Zoom has a touch-up appearance filter in the video settings. Enable it and while you’re there, make sure the HD is enabled for the best video quality.
6) Use good posture
7) Sit looking straight at the camera, not looking down or up
Looking professional;
8) Learn how to use the mute and video buttons; mute if there is outside noise, turn off video if you have to leave the meeting for a minute
9) Be prompt, sign in a few minutes early to check on the connection and your setting
10) Make sure everyone in the house knows you’re on a video call and they shouldn’t interrupt
11) Stay engaged – remove any distractions, turn off the phone or leave it in a different room
12) Unless you’re on a happy hour call with friends, no food, minimal drinks