You want to know what everyone wants: How to look amazing in pictures.
Well let me help you with that!
Since I'm a wedding photographer, I photograph a lot of regular people, that are not used to be photographed, and usually are clueless as what to do...And if you are getting engaged, my guess is that by now you have looked at wedding inspiration blogs for hours and hours looking for that perfect look, that perfect theme, that perfect idea for your big day...
(even if you aren't getting married, and you just want to know how to look amazing in pictures, keep reading as this applies to everything!)
Ever noticed in all the “real weddings” that you have perused through how amazingall the couples look? These are real people at real weddings just like you will be at yours. How do they get that beautiful model look and how do they shine with all that amazing confidence while sitting in front of a camera?
The secret is being confident. And it's okay if you have to fake it to make it.
It’s pretty easy really. Ever heard the phrase fake it till you make it? Well, there is some major truth to that when you find yourself standing in front of a camera wondering what you should be doing.
Be relaxed and confident that you are looking good.
Trust me, I will tell you if what you are doing doesn’t look right from my perspective and give you instruction on how else to stand or look to arrive at the image that I want to capture.
Until you hear me tell you to change what you are doing be confident that you are exactly as you should be. It’s the second guessing that will show through the photos.
Body language is super important in photos. Every tense part of your body finds a way to show through in your photos from your toes to your fists, shoulders and eyes.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind while in front of the camera, be it a professional shoot, or just your friend snapping some photos on a regular day. Let’s start from the bottom up to see how to look amazing in pictures.
What are your feet doing?
It's important that your feet are in line with the rest of your body in how you're standing. In normal life, if you turn your top half a direction, your feet follow, but I see people all the time move their top half in a different direction for a photo, but their feet are pointed the other way. It disconnects your top half from the lower half and makes you instantly look awkward. Move your feet to match the direction your body is in, otherwise, you look like someone told you to stand a specific way instead of looking like you chose that spot yourself.
Hips: Okay ladies, how often do you ever stand with equal weight on each hip? Pretty rarely huh? Then why would you do that in front of a camera? The quicker you get into a stance that is natural to you, the faster you will relax and have fun in the session. As a general tip, put your weight on the back foot (farthest from the camera) and put a slight bend in your front leg. It adds a really appealing S shape (especially with your arm slightly bent as well) to your figure And men, there is something about tuxes that make every man stand like a mannequin. I know it isn’t your normal attire but pretend you are in your favorite outfit that you KNOW your lady likes and you are super confident in. Mentally dress in that and hold yourself as if you are wearing that...not the penguin suit. And check into your hips as well, how often do you stand straight up and stiff normally? Stick a foot out lean back and breath. Those are the photos you’ll love the most.
Keep those hands relaxed!
It’s amazing how unconscious people are about what their hands are doing while they are uncomfortable or nervous. Try to keep your hands from instantly clenching when they are at your sides. Finding something for your hands to do will also help make them (and you) more relaxed. Play with the ring on your finger, hold your hands together, put them in your pockets, etc. If it doesn't look right, I will tell you to do something else, but at least you won’t be there unconsciously keeping yourself tense.
Men, use your pockets. There is something automatically relaxing about having your hands in your pockets, and your entire body will react for the better for it. On the wedding day... put your hands in your pants pockets. Pretend those tux jacket pockets don't exist as they are too high up and make you look goofy.
Ladies, on the wedding day, use your bouquet if you don’t know what to do with your hands. It’s the perfect built-in prop to give you something to do and keep you looking relaxed. If you don’t have your bouquet rest the palm of your hands on your dress or on your man. If you can’t have your palm touch something because your fingers are in the way, you are clenching... and should relax. Also, ladies, always have a bend in your elbow. The *slight* bend to your elbow creates an appealing curve to your body which will show in the photos.
Are your shoulders down or showing tension?
Most people hold tension in their shoulders. If you are uncomfortable or cold, your shoulders will move up and close you in, which in turn makes your chest turn in and give a look that says “go away”. Release your shoulders whenever you feel them tensing. Roll them down and back and the rest of your body will release tension as well.
Remember, your eyes are the window to your soul!
Whoever coined the term that the “eyes are the window to the soul” only had to look at photos to know that they hit the nail on the head. When being posed by a photographer trust that, even though you don’t know what I am looking for, they do. So, if I tell you to look over to me in a specific way, take a breath, relax and look at them in that way as if IT WAS YOUR IDEA. By owning up to how you are looking at them, your eyes will show that confidence and you will look stunning in the photos. It’s when you find yourself thinking “am I doing this right?” or “what do I look like right now?” your eyes will show the question and the image will not be as powerful. Just fake it like you know what you are doing.
Trust me, even if you aren’t doing exactly what it is that we told you to, if you are standing there with confidence that that is exactly what you should be doing and you know you look good doing it, the image will be great. We’d rather have you interpret how we want you to stand and have you own it and make it yours. It’s the second guessing what you are doing that will undo it all.
So, in short remember these quick tips:
- point your feet in the same direction of your body
- put weight on one hip or another, not evenly weighted
- relax your hands so they are open, if you don’t know what to do with them, lightly put them in your pocket
- keep your shoulders relaxed and down, even if you are cold
- don’t second guess how you are looking or standing, as it will show in your eyes.
- Tell yourself you are doing exactly what you should be doing, and the confidence will shoot out of you!
Don’t believe me? Hop onto one of those great inspiration sites you’ve been spending your work hours on and look at the subjects feet, hips, shoulders, hands and eyes. Believe me now? :)
Examples in how to look amazing in pictures
Take a look at this photo. You see how they are both standing on one leg, so their hips are angled and one leg has a slight bend to it? Also they both have their hands in their pockets. Her hand is lightly in her back pocket which gives the small bend to her elbow and adding shape. His hand in his pocket is also adding shape and giving dimension even though his is in a black sweater. They are also leaning into each other which tells our subconscious that they are a couple.
So even though they are leaning up against the wall, they have shape to their bodies, their legs have a little curve, their hands have purpose and they are both confident in their expression.
These two are super close, which translates beautifully in photos. Their faces are touching, which sometimes can feel weird, but translates to intimacy on film. He's holding his jacket, which is another great option as it gives his hand something to do while also gives a shape to his arm. Her arm is around him which is a perfect alternative if the bouquet is not in the photo... while having the awesome benefit of showing off her tattoo!
*this post is a revamped version from a 2015 post