There’s no time quite like the silly season for awkward group photos. Whether it’s the office Christmas party, a family lunch or just your cheeky 8–year-old niece armed with a smartphone, most of us have been forced to go on an untagging rampage on Facebook during December.
That’s why we decided to get some expert advice on how to not hate having your photo taken. We spoke to photographer and Canon Collective Ambassador Jenn Cooper about her top tips on how to pose like a pro. The most important? Relax. “People are often self-conscious of themselves. Whether they believe it’s a crooked smile, uneven teeth, “says Jenn. While internally you may be screaming, ‘Hurry up and get this over with!’ take a deep breath through your nose, and feel your shoulder blades relax down your back as you exhale. “Remember to relax, smile and stay still for the camera!”
Practice makes perfect
Mariah Carey famously demands all photographs are taken from her right side because it’s more flattering. While that might sound a little extreme, there is some logic to her theory. “It is true that our faces are different on each side,” says Jenn. Remember, there’s a reason models and celebrities look great in photos – they practice! If you’re camera-phobic, make like Mimi and take some time to figure out which side you prefer. “Start by posing in front of a mirror so you can practice before you get your picture taken. Learning how to pose in front of a mirror helps build confidence in front of the camera,” says Jenn. “This way you’ll know which side you are more comfortable with, how much to smile and what feels the best for you.”
Nailing your smile
Finding your perfect “mouth” is one of the trickiest parts of posing. If you’re unsure what looks best aim for something natural. “No more duck face poses, please!” says Jenn. “Relax try and remember something funny just before the picture is taken, try a little giggle,” Avoid a nervous, grimace by taking a breath between shots. “Don’t hold your smile for too long, it will droop and look fake very quickly,” says Jenn. If you don’t like showing your teeth, practice your “smize” at home. “Try placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth,” says Jenn. This helps open up the eyes and warm up the corners of the mouth. “It takes time to master the picture-perfect smile, but remember, practice makes perfect!”
Finding your best angle
Just like creating the perfect sauce, finding your most flattering pose is all about making subtle changes until you get it “just right”. A general rule of thumb to remember is that whatever feature or body part you point towards the camera will look larger, while whatever you angle away from it will look smaller. “Ensure the photographer is above your eye level to avoid double chins and seeing up your nose!” says Jenn. “Posture is important, imagine someone is lifting up your posture from the top of your head and stand confidently.” Standing dead-on with your hips and shoulders facing straight at the camera tends to look stiff and awkward so try experimenting with different angles. “Start by placing your body at a slight angle to the camera, and then place your weight on the back hip away from the camera. This leaves the front leg looking slimmer,” says Jen. “If you believe your arms aren’t your greatest assets, make sure you take them away from your body by placing your hands on your waist, and not your hips.”
Don’t forget your hands
It sounds crazy but hands can make or break a photo! Be mindful of where yours are and what they’re doing when you jump in front of the lens. There’s no use having a million-dollar smile if your fists are clenched and your knuckles look like you’re riding a roller coaster. “Making sure your hands are relaxed so they don’t give away your anxiety,” says Jenn. “Placing your hands on your waist is a great trick to draw people’s eye to your waist and away from your hips.” You can also try placing one on top of the other (this is the Duchess of Cambridge’s signature hand pose), which will force you to stop clenching your fists if you’re feeling nervous.
For more information on photography check out the Canon Collective.