There’s no denying the influence of social media in our lives today. No matter what career or industry you’re in, having an active and engaging online presence can lead to new clients and new opportunities — not to mention the ego boost that comes from posting a popular picture. That makes learning how to be photogenic a fundamental social media skill.
Even if your feed consists mostly of landscape photography and puppy portraits, it’s good to show your face to your followers every now and then. But taking photos of yourself can feel awkward and uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. And in that case, it helps to learn from the best — influencers. Read on to discover the top photogenic tips from the pros so you can learn how to be more photogenic.
What does “photogenic” mean?
Essentially, being photogenic means looking good in a photograph. The meaning of the word “photogenic” can differ depending on one’s personal preferences, but most people agree that it is not synonymous with physical attractiveness; rather, it’s the ability to look natural and flattering in a photo.
What makes someone not photogenic?
Judging by how many people are searching for tips on how to look better in photos, most of us struggle with feeling not photogenic. But in reality, unflattering photos are the result of inexperience and a lack of photography fundamentals. Many people simply don’t know the best angles and poses that highlight their natural features.
While being photogenic might come naturally to some people, it’s absolutely a skill you can practice and learn.
How to make your face more photogenic
We’ve all taken photos where our faces look weird. Or maybe your expression just isn’t coming across the way you thought it would. So let’s dive into some of the best tips for making your face look more photogenic.
1. Find your best angle
The majority of people on the planet do not have a perfectly symmetrical face, and asymmetry doesn’t always look flattering when captured through a lens. To combat this, find your best angle by taking selfies of the right and left sides of your face and comparing them. Get clear on which side you like best, and remember to angle your face that way during photos rather than look straight into the camera.
2. Smile with your eyes
This tip comes straight from America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks, who always encouraged participants to “smize” or “smile with your eyes.” It may sound strange, but it can help your expression come off as more relaxed and genuine instead of feeling forced.
3. Utilize natural lighting
Shadows are your face’s worst enemy when it comes to taking photogenic pictures. Before snapping a pic, make sure the main source of light is in front of you and that there are no light sources behind you. While ring lights give everyone access to professional lighting, natural lighting from outside or simply standing in front of a window always reigns supreme.
4. Grab some paper
If you’re taking a selfie and you want to illuminate your face even more, use celebrity makeup artist Michelle Phan’s paper trick. With natural lighting streaming across your face, grab a sheet of white paper and hold it underneath your chin. This will both give off a natural bounce of light and reduce any shadows that can make you look like you have a double chin.
5. Point your camera down
Whether you’re taking a selfie or asking a friend to snap a picture of you, make sure your camera is angled down. This will help slim not only your face but also your entire body if it’s in the photo.
How to pose to look better in photographs
Now that you’ve got your angles down for your face, it’s time to move on to the next piece of looking more photogenic — posing.
6. Move your arms
Letting your arms hang flat on your side can make you seem stiff and uncomfortable. Put your hands on your hips or throw them up in the air to give more life to your photo. Play around with some arm placement ideas and develop a couple of go-to poses.
7. Turn your shoulders
Standing straight in front of the camera is not a great pose for most. It helps to angle your shoulders to the right or left to give your body a more flattering appearance. Try angling to the right and the left so that you know which side you like more.
8. Roll your shoulders back
The key to looking good in pictures is to look relaxed, and hunched-up shoulders look anything but. To combat this, take a deep breath and roll those shoulders back. This simple move will make a huge difference.
9. Give your hands something to do
Nothing will make you feel (and look) more nervous than not knowing what to do with your hands in a photo. Give yourself a prop like a coffee mug or a handbag, or touch your hair or face. Experiment with different ways to utilize your hands so they don’t feel so awkward in pictures.
10. Practice, practice, practice
Don’t wait until the opportunity presents itself to try out these tips for yourself. Grab your iPhone, turn on the self-timer, and start practicing your poses! The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.
How to smile better in photos
Flattering face angles and relaxed poses are great, but the real money-maker of a picture is your smile. Read on to learn how to bring out your best.
11. Relax your jaw
Forcing a smile for the camera never works. So before you flash your biggest grin, take a deep breath and release any and all tension from your jaw. This will help you smile more naturally before the camera starts snapping.
12. Think happy thoughts
Another way to evoke a more natural smile is to think about something that makes you happy. Be it a memory or a funny joke, try to envision some good thoughts that are guaranteed to make you grin.
13. Use your tongue
A secret trick that fashion photography models and influencers use to get perfect smiles in their photos is pushing their tongues behind their teeth. It doesn’t seem like this would do much, but it keeps your smile looking natural and happy. Try it for yourself!
14. Tell a joke
A mid-laugh smile is one of the best, most natural smiles to capture on camera. Either think of something funny or ask your photographer to tell you a joke. Sometimes, fake laughing can help you start laughing for real.
15. Practice with and without showing your teeth
Everyone has a smile that makes them feel their best. Find yours by taking some time to practice smiling with and without teeth, and see which one you prefer.
Being photogenic is all about understanding the poses, angles, and little tricks that make you feel like your best self on camera. The more you experiment, the more likely you are to find that perfect combination that works for you.