Friday, July 22, 2011

How To Pose For Candid Photos (and look like a dork in real life)

Barbara: As Charlotte and I spent half an hour the other day trying to nab a shot of us dressed up for kayaking to add to my Birthday Adventures post, we found ourselves bent over in hysterics because pic after pic made us look like, as I said, “drunken serial killers”. We didn’t manage to get a single shot we felt comfortable posting. It occurred to me that maybe since it’s summer and candid shots are being taken aplenty, to share some of the tips and cues we’ve picked up over the years for upping the odds that your pic will turn out nicely. (note to Char and Barb: don’t pose after wine and beer in a stifling hot house wearing life jackets and baseball caps under a glaring light and in self-portrait mode, angling your smart phone blindly toward yourselves. Enough said.)

Warning and proviso: In implementing these poses and tricks––while your photos promise to turn out especially nice––you do risk looking a bit dorky in real life while the pic is being taken. But, hey, you choose: a fleeting moment of dorkiness versus all of eternity…

Trick #1: If the sun is glaring in your eyes, but the photographer has decided this is the best angle for the light (who’s to argue, lighting is everything), simply close your eyes a few seconds before the shot, angle your face up to the sun and let the light hit your closed lids, then have the photographer tell you he/she is ready, look to the camera, and open your eyes. Voila, your vision will be relaxed enough to get you through the shot.

Trick #2: By far the goofiest…but it WORKS. This trick I learned not on a set as you might imagine but from emulating my cousin-in-law as he posed for photos at a wedding. Most people, especially if they are in a jovial and happy mood, will pull their heads back as the camera zooms in and give that “I’m in a jovial and happy mood” expression that, when committed to film (or digital image), makes you look like your face has imploded and sucked your chin with it. To avoid this, pull your shoulders as far back as they comfortably go and angle your chin forward and down. Now try very hard to look relaxed and comfortable as you hold this unnatural pose. When you see the picture, you will THANK YOURSELF!
Sucked in face, yikes!

Shoulders back, chin down and out, look like a dork...

... But photo? Much better!

Trick #3: This for anyone remotely approaching middle age: Smile! If you are anything like me, if you don’t smile even just a little, perhaps hoping for that sultry Jennifer Lopez look (yes, I know she’s approaching middle age, fuck off), you will more than likely look pissed off, morosely unhappy, incredibly tired, or … like a drunken serial killer. 
Me trying to look all sultry and stuff. Don't you want to just throw your arms around me and tell me it's gonna be okay?

If your teeth are an issue, at least aim for a closed-mouth, eye-twinkling grin.

Deb, over to you; I’m sure you have some goodies you can add to this!

Deb: It’s funny but the best pictures I have of myself are when there is joy in my eyes. Sometimes I am looking through reams of headshots to choose one and they all look exactly like the one before and the one after. Exact same pose with the photographer snapping away.

But when I go to choose, it is the easiest thing in the world. I just look for life and warmth and projection in my eyes. Does the picture give you a glimpse into who I am? Then it’s good. So my trick is: smile with your eyes! 

PS We posted a new Deco Tip and Recipe today (Saturday)!!


  1. Loved all these photos of the two of you. Gorgeous and beautiful so I think any picture of you both is a winner. But I do see what you mean now to practice for my next porn shot:)

  2. I love love love this post! My daughter is a wedding photographer. Going to send the link to her so she can pass the tips along to her brides. And you ladies are always gorgeous!! - Anne

  3. You are both VERY photogenic!!!! Great pics! :)

  4. Very Pretty pics . They are very pretty. I don't do pictures very well. The only time I get pictures taken is a Christmas time. Even then its just a very natural picture nothing too Over done. Just me looking like me. This is the only time I get photos done. Any other time that I would happen to be in a photo is by mastake . And I always get caught looking down.

  5. Dahlings you look mahvalous! (said in my best Katherine Hepburn impression)

  6. Ha! Off the grid till now, but loved reading your comments! Madge, porn, huh? Can't wait to hear those tips ;)

    Let us know if you have any of your own tips.

  7. This is great! I'm going to share it on facebook. That's where I think people get really flummoxed about which photos to post.

  8. Photogenic beauties!! And remember, I'm a photographer!

  9. Here via Lisa: great post! Sharing...

  10. Thanks, guys!! And Lisa, you're so right! Those damn FB profile pics. That's why so many of us post our dogs, cats, and (in my case) being circled by stingrays :)

  11. Thanks, ladies, for the tips. I wish I looked like you two in my pictures. :)
    I've gotten to the point where I look at any picture someone took of me and say,"well, that's what I look like."
    The one tip I have learned is, just before you have your picture taken, laugh loud, a big fake laugh, then stop and look at the camera. Your smile will look a lot more natural.


  12. I have no real tips as I am not photogenic. Maybe under the right light and with a makeup artist and a great photographer.:)

  13. Thanks for the tips! I don't consider myself all that photogenic, like you gals, but I'll give them a shot! Get it? Shot, photo... guess that was kinda lame, eh? :)

  14. Hey Madge that's what I did. Good light and pro photographer. Beth I get it. Not lame. Love my word puns! Anyone can look good in a photo. We didn't show you the tons where I look drunk and or deranged. Those have a special place in the attic!

  15. You may not like the sucked in face but it gave me a big laugh. I needed it. Both of you are very lovely women and would love to see some of the attic series. lol Barbara your last picture looks like you just read todays news, or that burrito had been in the fridge longer than you thought. :)
    Deb, I love the first photo of you the best. You look impish and like you have a really fun secret.
    I was at a funeral today and they took photographs, which I thought was kinda strange. I told them I was in the Witness protection program but they didn't buy it. Dang it. Wish I had read your instructions first. I think I at least remembered to push my tongue up and forward pressing against the roof of my mouth. It removes one of the many chins I have developed over the years. I don't quite have a whole phone books worth of chins but I have enough to open a restaurant. (yes, i'm bad).

    Karen Frazier

  16. Such pretty pictures! But then, you're both so very pretty, it's hard to imagine that either of you could take a bad picture. I avoid cameras like the plague, but I'll remember those tips the next time I get dragged in front of one.

  17. Oh, ladies, you see? We all hate having the pic taken. It's so haaaaaard!!! That's why we need the tricks.

    But Karen, omg, thanks for the laugh this morning!! And YES: I forgot about the sticking of the tongue on the roof of your mouth for a profile pic! That one really does work. And the Witness Protection?! Oh, thank you!!

  18. I love this article! I love this article so much I referenced it in my blog this morning! My bad driver's license picture was in no way a reflection of the advice given, and it has worked for me in other situations!!!!

    Keep up the great work, ladies!


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