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Everyone wants a bountiful cache of frame-worthy professional photos. Whether they’re intended to capture milestones (weddings, babies, graduations, etc) or they’re for your annual Christmas card, quality photos are the best way to capture memories. Not only do professional photos make great artwork, they make wonderful gifts for family and friends. The trouble is that so many of us freeze in front of a camera. Our laid back disposition disappears, and we are tight, awkward, and uncomfortable. If you just can’t figure out how to look good on camera, keep reading.
As a fashion blogger, I’ve taken my fair share of photos. I also competed in pageants for a few years, so I’m no stranger to big-haired pageant headshots either. Some photos are (much) better than others, but I produce usable images every shoot because I’ve learned the basics. If you want to know how to look good on camera, here are ten things to keep in mind.
1. Listen to your photographer.
Listening to your photograph is crucial for looking your best in photos. Think about it– stray hairs and pimples can be photoshopped. Awkward posing and stiffness can’t be edited away. For example, if you look back at some of my older fashion photos, I look very stiff. My goal is to show off the clothes as best I can, so I try to make my body look as tall and lean as possible. I oftentimes end up looking like a robot in the process. These photos, on the other hand, were taken by the incredible Catherine Rhodes Photography. She reminded me to laugh, move, and have fun. Not only do I look more natural, I genuinely loved these photos enough to include them in a post about how to look good on camera. That should tell you something.
At the end of the day, your photographer is a professional. You (most likely) are not. Even though you may think you know your good side, at the very least attempt their suggestions. Something may feel awkward, like sticking your neck out or twisting your torso, but odds are that it looks pretty rad on camera. If you’re super uncomfortable, ask to view some of the thumbnails for a preview every few looks.
2. Choose your wardrobe wisely.
Solid prints, aside from bright white, always look better on camera. Patterns, even tweed, can get messy when adjusting lighting and overall tonality. Even patterns as neutral as pinstripes tend to flutter on camera. If you’re going to incorporate a pattern, try to make it a smaller accessory, like a scarf or handbag. Also, try to avoid wearing glossy fabrics, since they can easily reflect light and ruin photos.
The science behind how to look good on camera doesn’t only apply to photos. Looking good in videos often involves the same protocol. For example, I did a video project with CORT earlier this year, and the video production manager told me explicitly to only wear solid colors. He specifically mentioned that blues and pinks look best in video. So that’s exactly what a wore– a pink Portofino shirt with rich blue jeans.
3. Twist your torso.
The camera doesn’t always have to add ten pounds. If you’re taking portraits, InStyle advises, “Twist your torso, turning one shoulder toward the camera and the other away from it… It makes you look very slender.” It’s all about working your angles! If you want to prepare ahead of time, practice in the mirror to get used to how your body feels in each pose.
4. Wear HD makeup.
Most professional cameras highlight wrinkles, creases, and blemishes. One might think that the remedy for this is to cake on heavy stage makeup, but this technique translates even worse on screen. According to an article on WebMD, “[High-definition] cosmetics simultaneously camouflage imperfections, cover blemishes, and still manage to appear invisible. The pigments and formulas are designed to blend seamlessly with the skin.”
When I competed in pageants, I was told to only wear HD makeup in headshots– and pretty much everywhere I went, as well. Although decent photoshop skills can easily fix blemishes after the fact, it’s easier to look and feel your best if you know you’re wearing the right makeup. My favorite brand is MAKE UP FOR EVER, but there are tons of brands who specialize in HD makeup now.
5. Touch up your roots.
Editing should look natural and can only go so far without notice. Before your photoshoot, remember to touch up your roots. Since booking a hair appointment just for your roots is unrealistically expensive, invest in a temporary root concealer, like EVERPRObeauty Gray Away Root Concealer Spray and Root Touch-Up Magnetic Powder. EVERPRObeauty’s formulas aren’t sticky, and unlike many other products I’ve tested in the past, no visible residue is ever left on my hair after use. Both products are available in Lightest Brown/Medium Blonde, Light Brown, and Black/Dark Brown.
Gray Away’s root concealer spray and touch-up magnetic powder continually save me time, energy, and (most importantly) money in-between visits to my hair stylist. Plus, they’re both free of harsh chemicals and dyes, so my hair remains unharmed and undamaged at all times. You can check out a full review and tutorial on both products here.
6. Go easy on the hairspray.
Just like grown-out roots can ruin a photo, excessive hairspray can also ruin a photo. You want your hair to look natural, not crunchy. Plus, it’s worth noting that crunchy hair is virtually impossible to photoshop away.
7. Think of something funny.
There’s nothing more gorgeous than a genuine natural smile. If you start to feel stiff or uncomfortable, think of something funny. Replay an SNL skit in your head or tell yourself or whoever else is in the photo a dumb joke. Great photographers will oftentimes try to make you laugh to loosen you up, as well.
8. Wear a bold lip color.
Give a girl the right lipstick, and she can conquer the world. If your lips are painted with a bright red or bold pink, you’ll bring attention to your face, which is ideal for a quality headshot. Plus, bright lipstick (when applied correctly) can make your lips look bigger, brighten your face, and give you the confidence to smile more.
9. Always fill in your brows.
Any seasoned makeup artist will tell you great eyebrows can make any face look good. Your brows frame your face and give it structure. Draw attention to your eyes by filling in your eyebrows and (depending on the occasion) wearing false lashes.
10. Take deep breaths.
Remind yourself to breath in between photos! After you take a deep breath, your face should relax, too. This will help avoid a stale smile and can give you a more relaxed, wide-eyed look.
Shop the Look: Beige Long Sleeve Swing Dress, $19 (available in over a dozen colors) | Tartan Blanket Scarf, $12 (available in 11 plaid patterns) | Tan OTK Boots, $182 (almost completely sold out but still available in select sizes in tan and black) | Red Ralph Lauren Satchel, $195 (on sale and available in black, brown, and red) | Kendra Scott Sophie Earrings, $55 (available in gold, silver, and rose gold)
This is a sponsored post with EVERPRObeauty. Thank you so much for supporting the brands who make Diary of a Debutante possible! As always, the opinions in this post are mine alone. Photography by Catherine Rhodes Photography.