The Eyes Have It (How to Look Good in Pictures, Part 3)

So, in parts 1 and 2 of “How to Look Good in Pictures” we looked at how perspective to the camera and posing can improve how we look in photos. Now we need to address the face.


1. Elongate the Neck

No one wants to show off their “double chin”, especially if we don’t really have one! This one is pretty easy to address – push your face towards the camera – put it closer than your shoulders and neck.  This definitely feels awkward, and to those on the side of you might think it looks funny, but the camera will reward you with a long neck. 


2. Create definition

So now I hear you say that you always look like you have a heavy jaw in photos (if you’re like me with a “square shaped face”), or that your chin is way too pointy (if you a blessed with a small narrow face). This is where you need to look in the mirror and practice a little.

The first thing you want to think about is whether you tilt your head up or down.  I grew up being told to lift my chin and that way you stretch out your neck and eliminate any under hanging skin.  But that isn’t true for all of us, in fact, I think I look dreadful like that and it reduces my eyes.  This is not to say that no one can do that, but for those like me you might need to tilt your chin down slightly which gives an added benefit to women that it opens up the eyes (not quite so good for men as they tend to have heavier brow lines and just look angry if they tilt down too far).

Then we need to create some definition. For men a head straight to the camera can be flattering, it creates a strong jawline, however women often want to look a little be more approachable.  To do this we can turn one side or another slightly away from the camera to define our cheek bones – here’s a fun fact for you, most people find their left-hand side more attractive. Practice this in your mirror, or better yet with your friends and camera, to see which angle best suits you (it may be more than one).

fig 1: Different chin angles. Note that tilting my chin down creates a narrower face and softens my square jawline. 

So, if you check out figure 1 you will see nine different chin angles. The light source above and to the right of the camera, much like the sun would be.  The images are not retouched so that you can see how the light falls naturally across my face.  The centre image is my neutral position with only my forehead and chin pushed towards the camera. The top line shows me tilting my head up (I call it the 'model pose' and to the left and right, the bottom line is my chin down and left and right. 

I don't know about you, but I like the middle and bottom left the best (and guess what? - it's the left side of my face) since it gives me nice cheek bone definition.  Note that the bottom centre tilt gives me a narrower jaw line and chin than the centre image, and most definitely the centre top "squares off" my jaw. 


3. Look Connected

Okay, so we’re almost there. 

We have our perspective done – check. 

We have got our pose: no mergers, foreshortening, great shape – check.

We have defined our neck, jawline and cheeks – check. 

But horror of horrors: you look like a deer caught in headlights with the cheesiest grin in the world!  

When your smile is fake, or held too long it is noticeable.  A fake smile uses only the mouth, a genuine smile comes from the eyes.  Yes, you heard correctly, from the eyes, this is where connection with the camera occurs, from the eyes.  Hands up anyone who has ever heard Tara Banks say “smize!” (or is it just me who loved watching America’s Next Top Model – for the photography of course! 😊). 

Start like this.  Relax your face.  Let your lips part gently (this usually means that your top lip lifts up a bit, rather than dropping your jaw). Now, think of something that makes your smile – but don’t smile yet.  Let that emotion build and “push it out” through your eyes.  You will notice something remarkable happen.  You will feel your lips start to curl up and your eyes will “squinch” in a little bit. 

Keep pushing out the emotion and your tiny smile will turn into a larger smile.  The more you push, the larger it will grow!  The trick now is to capture the smile in the first few moments so that it doesn’t look forced or held.

fig 2: The image on the left does not look connected, you would not believe I was happy (truely I was, creating these images for you 😉).  In the image on the right I allowed my emotion to push through my eyes and connect you with my smile. 

fig 2: The image on the left does not look connected, you would not believe I was happy (truely I was, creating these images for you 😉).  In the image on the right I allowed my emotion to push through my eyes and connect you with my smile. 

And that’s it! You are all armed now to conquer your fear of being photographed and like how you look. I’d love to hear how you’re going, let me know below in the comments.  Of better yet, post a photo, I’d love to see it.

Of course, if you would love to come to the studio and let me show you the beauty I see, why don't you start designing your dream session and let me help you achieve it. 

With Joy,