You know the feeling you have when you watch your husband have his hair “styled” by your daughter? Or the way you swoon when you see your six-week-old baby smile for the first time? Complete and utter adoration! You notice the crinkle in your husband’s sweet eyes, not the coffee stain on his shirt. You notice your baby’s gorgeous dimples, not the stuff that needs to be wiped from her face.
My goal as a photographer is to capture the feelings that go with this time in your life. I want to make you and your family look as beautiful in photos as you are to one another. Here are some tips to help you look your best, whether you are getting ready for a family photo session or just snapping pictures over the weekend.
1. Put your best foot forward – literally!
Next time you are watching a red carpet event, notice just how many women strike this pose… Start by putting your weight on your back foot and rotate your hips about 45 degrees away from the camera. Elongate your front leg and bend your knee, pointing your foot toward the camera. Prepare to look svelte!
2. Smile with your eyes (“smize”)
Have you ever heard that you should smile when you are talking on the phone because it comes across in your voice? The same can be said for laughing in a photograph. If you are relaxed, having fun, and feeling good, you will be able to see it in your eyes. Check out this quick and hilarious video tutorial from Tyra Banks and learn from the master… http://tyrashow.warnerbros.com/2009/04/smile_with_your_eyes_1.php
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Not only will you look fresher for the camera, you will feel more relaxed and together. I know this is sometimes easier said than done with little ones, but do the best you can and it will come across in your photographs.
4. Let kids be kids
This is typically easier to do if you have a good night’s sleep!… Try your best to be rested, relaxed, and patient with your little ones during your family photo session. I am a firm believer in letting kids get away with a little more than you typically would during a photo session. When kids are able to be a little looser, jump on their beds, and get a little rowdy, you will get what you want… beautiful and genuine expressions in your photographs. You will also look happier and more relaxed if you are in the shot!
5. Perfect your posture
At the risk of sounding like your mother, “stand up straight”! Slouching will make you appear heavier than you actually are, so make sure your shoulders are back, your chest is forward, and your belly button is pulled in toward your spine. I used to have a dance teacher who advised us to imagine we were being pulled upward, like a marionette, from the top of our heads.
While you are at it, try lifting your arms out slightly from your sides, just enough to give your upper arms breathing room. Your arms will look much slimmer than if they are close by your sides. Finally, remember that you can still be relaxed while having good posture. Don’t forget to breathe deeply to eliminate any tension from your shoulders and face.
6. Pay attention to the little things
Be sure to do a quick details check before you are photographed… Check for food in family members’ teeth, make sure your kids’ faces are crumb-free, and keep extra wipes on hand so that all little noses are free and clear of the yuckies… Sure, these things can be cleaned up in Photoshop if need be, but your photographs will look better if we capture the real deal! Plus, it is quicker and easier to do in real life!
7. Wear clothing that makes you feel good
Make Stacy and Clinton proud and learn what colors, shapes, and styles flatter you. Also, be sure to choose clothing that is comfortable. The better you feel, the more confident and beautiful you will look in your photographs.
8. Lean in
Here are two good tips that involve leaning… First, lean in toward your family members. Moving in a little closer might feel funny, but it will look warm and natural in your finished photos. Any space between family members is magnified when you see it in two dimensions. Pay attention to this next time you look at family photographs and you will find yourself leaning in closer to your loved ones next time you are in front of the camera.
Second, lean slightly forward at the waist when standing or sitting in a photograph. You will find that it improves your posture, elongates your neck, makes you look more engaged, and is extremely flattering! Give it a try!
9. Study your old pictures
One of the best ways to discover what is most flattering is to look back at photographs in which you looked your best. Pay attention to the details – how you were posing, what were you wearing, what you were doing, what angle was your face in relation to the camera? Have you ever noticed that celebrities tend to strike the same poses again and again? Learn how to arrange yourself so that you look your best.
10. Choose a photographer who will make you look your best
A good photographer knows the most flattering times of day for outdoor photos (hint: not at noon!), how to interact with your little ones so that they are comfortable and having fun, and will tell you if there is spinach between your teeth!
A great photographer knows how having light fall across your face from different directions can sculpt your face and flatter you. A great photographer also pays attention to details when she is looking through the lens. She will help you capture your family and home at its best (for example, by clearing a bit of clutter on the coffee table, or having you turn your wrists to the side so that you are photographed at a more flattering angle, etc.). Choose someone who is knowledgeable and makes you feel comfortable so that you and your family look your best!
Have I left out any good tips? Feel free to comment and share your favorite tricks below.