Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

How to look your best in photos

by Kris Phillips

Part of why I love photographing people with their pets is that dogs have this amazing ability to help us relax and just be. And being at least a little relaxed is a good first step toward taking a great photo. But we all have little personal hang-ups and problem areas, and some people swear outright they are just not photogenic. While most of us will never win Top Model (and do we really want to?) there are a few easy strategies to take better photos overall. No one (including yours truly) wants to put a bad photo out there on the internet. But, I want to illustrate how minor tweeking can make a huge difference so I’m throwing myself on the alter of bad selfies. No photoshopping was done, this is all about posture.

1. Know & work your angles.

There’s a reason even celebrity mugshots look horrible, straight on is not a good way to be photographed.  Same outfit, same person, same camera angle.

Just a few adjustments and it’s a much more flattering image. By turning my body at a slight angle I can make myself look a little leaner. Bending the knee creates a curve around the hips. It also helps your legs look a little longer. By tucking my hands in my pockets it brings my arms away from my sides to help them look a little slimmer. As a habit I tend to push my hips forward in photos, but if you want to minimize your hips lean your upper body forward. Whatever is closer to the camera will look bigger and whatever is further away will look smaller.

2. The dreaded double-chin.

I’ll never quite understand why it’s our natural instinct to pull back from photos as if a punch is coming. Maybe it’s the impending flash. But EVERYBODY does it! And thus the dreaded double chin is created. Not to worry, whether you truly have an extra chin or just one that magically appears in photos you CAN do a lot to fix it. Once your in position for a great photo simply bring your face a little closer to the camera, like a turtle. You might also find that tilting you chin down slightly is helpful. Make it a subtle adjustment, you don’t want to actually look like a turtle in your photos. It’ll feel weird at first, but once you’ve mastered it you’ll love the results.


3. Flatter your arms

Arms are a common complaint for women. And even if your pretty toned they don’t look great just laying there at your side, so put those puppies to work. Your arms will look best if they’re away from your body just a bit. Put a hand on your hip, tuck your fingers in your pocket, or rest your elbow on something. By creating space between your body and your arm it’ll look slimmer no matter your size. And if you’re really self conscious about your upper arms wearing long sleeves will help camouflage them even more.

4. Sitting Pretty

I’m not going to lie, it’s tricky to look great while sitting. But, unless you have a REALLY big dog, you’re going to want to be seated in photos with your furry family. The keep the aforementioned tips in mind to look your best even sitting on your butt.

Slumping over will make you look shorter and wider.

Mermaid pose is great for little kids but will make your thighs & hips look HUGE

This one isn’t horrible but it does make me look really short. Not a bad way to hide your belly though.


Try these instead

Remember all those times your grandma yelled at you to sit up strait. Now you can thank her.

Bent legs create more angles. And a place to rest your arm.

Bent legs, arms away from your body, and a forward lean. Put your dog next to you and you’re good to go!


5. Say Cheese…or don’t

There are lots of great ways to achieve a great smile in photos. Saying cheese has been around a while, and most of us are probably tired of hearing it. But why does it work? The strong “eee” sound causes the corners of your mouth to turn, faking a smile. While it’s not a horrible way to get a group of people to smile at once, it can be more fun to substitute “money” or “Hawaii”. There there is the old Hollywood trick, when you smile, tuck your tongue behind your front teeth. I have no idea why this works but it does. Or better yet think of something funny that makes you smile. I actually laugh quietly when the shutter clicks.

These are some of my best tips and tricks to look your best. Want to further refine your photo game? Scroll through your friends photos of you, find the ones you love, and the ones you hate and see if you can figure out how you did it.

Proper posture and a little humor will get you looking your best in every photo you take.


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