A lot of us hate having our picture taken, but family members and friends insist on doing it anyway. If you freeze and then end up looking like a deer in the headlights in every photo, there are a few things you can do to prevent that from happening.
Photo by Jim Kelly.
The Stupid Things You Need To Stop Doing
We all have ways of coping with a photo being taken. Sometimes that means making a surprised face; other times it means we pretend to look like we’re having more fun than we really are. Often, you just need to relax and stop thinking so much about it. I talked with Luceo Images photographer Matt Slaby to see what behaviour irks him when taking photos.
- You’re pretending to be something you’re not: Unless you’re an actor, Matt recommends you quit pretending in photos and just act naturally. “Getting people’s traits to come out is what a good photographer does. You can’t fake your way through it.” If you’re a goofy person, posing in a weird way is going to work well, but if you’re quiet and reserved, you look unnatural acting goofy. To put it simply: act normal.
- You hate having your picture taken and it shows: Here’s the deal: a lot people aren’t photogenic and most people don’t like having a camera shoved in their face. You’re not alone in this. When you hate having your picture taken, you slouch, make a stupid face, and when someone puts a shoulder around you it looks like it’s weighing you down. I know this because I look slouched over and annoyed in every photo of me taken over the last 20 years. The solution? Stand up straight and think about the last good meal you ate. You’re not going to get a trophy for best smile, but at least you won’t look like you’re in pain.
- You’re squaring up to the camera: When someone points something at you it seems a natural human reaction to look directly at it, but you should stop doing this. Look above the camera or below, but don’t look directly at the camera. The same goes for the tilt of your head. A recent study found that men who tilt their head back slightly and woman who tilt their head forward are more attractive. The same goes for your feet and body, if they’re angled directly at the camera, shift them (and your body) slightly. Don’t worry about modelling techniques involving foot position and shoulder tilt. Just make sure you’re not squared up to the camera.
- You’re nervous and you try to leave after a single picture: The biggest hurdle for those of us who hate having our picture taken is the nerves. We tense up thinking about all those awkward high school portraits and we end up making the stupidest face imaginable. Matt suggests you relax and let the photographer guide you: “Photographers will respond to your actions. A good photographer will wait you out and there’s bound to be a point where you’re not nervous anymore.” There’s nothing you can really do to combat nerves, but a simple trick is to stop making a run for the exit right after the picture is taken. Instead of scattering after the shutter is released, idle a bit and let the photographer capture a more candid photo after the “real” one was taken.
- You’re mugging people (or being mugged): Matt also suggests the worst images are the ones where someone doesn’t want to be in it. “When someone is photo mugging someone else, it never looks good. I almost always throw those away,” says Slaby. So, stop forcing yourself on other people in pictures.
Photo by James.
Prepare Yourself Before Pictures By Learning Your Face
One of the reasons we get nervous having our pictures taken is that we’re imagining this image being stored in a family photo album and we want to present our best side. Instead of fretting about your hair or how much you’re smiling, prepare yourself ahead of time by getting to know your face a little better.
- Learn to smile naturally: We’ve talked about learning how to smile in the past, but it’s worth noting again. Practice makes perfect here and getting to know your natural smile is the best way to keep yourself from looking awkward in a photo. Yes, it’s self-indulgent, but if you practice in front of the mirror you’ll eventually be able to conjure up a natural smile at any moment.
- Figure out which side you want to present: Most of us aren’t perfectly symmetrical and even if we are, our haircuts probably aren’t. When you’re staring at yourself in the mirror working on your smile, figure out which side and angle you like the best and present that whenever you can.
Photo by Ananth BS.
Are you camera shy? Share your tips for not looking like an idiot in photos in the comments.