I don’t think many people like having their photos taken and I am no exception. I have only taken a handful of “selfies” in my life and they all looked pretty awful! So, when I needed some uptodate head shots for my website and social media ( people do like to see who they’re dealing with) I bit the bullet and engaged ace photographer Julie Copestake from Lone Barn Photography. Working with Julie was a revelation, particularly in terms of learning how to “pose” in a way that is natural and flattering. You can see a couple of the shots she took in Contact and About Nicola.
Julie has kindly agreed to share some top tips on how you can make sure you look your very best in photographs – even those mobile phone selfies!
Over to Julie….
Simple steps to give you confidence in front of the camera
“This isn’t for me – I’m not photogenic”
If I had a pound for every time a woman said that to me I would be quite wealthy! So many of us (including men) avoid the camera at all costs, because we feel uncomfortable, are convinced that we will look odd in the images, the camera does something weird to our faces. There are so many reasons why we run for the hills when someone points a camera at us.
I have been a photographer for over 15 years and I know that there is no such thing as an unphotogenic person. Yes, I know you probably have dozens of photos of yourself that you don’t like, but I can guarantee that you were either photographed in unflattering light, badly posed or used the wrong lens or most probably a combination of all three.
Follow these simple steps to create much more flattering images of yourself and others.
Tip 1 – Hair and Makeup
Hair and makeup does make a dramatic difference, all my clients have the luxury of using a professional hair and makeup artist before their photo shoot, but here are some hints for you to follow.
This all starts with a great foundation to create a blank canvas and to even out your skin tones. Make sure to blend your foundation well and don’t forget your neck to avoid the match head look.
Avoid frosted finishes, sparkly eyeshadows and lipsticks which can reflect the light in unflattering ways. Neutral eyeshadows will work with all eye colours and outfits. If you are going for a more dramatic smokey eye then go for a nude or softer colour lip stick, not a strong one. In you images you want to focus on your eyes, if you have both strong eye makeup and a strong lip colour it very confusing to the eye.
Tip 2 – Lighting
Lighting is key to a great photograph (photography means painting with light). In the studio, I have the luxury of being able to use amazing lights to create beautiful soft lighting that is flattering to everyone.
Did you know that most domestic lights give your images odd colour tones, you either look too orange or blue. The best lighting to look for is soft indirect daylight.
Light to avoid
- Direct sunlight – it will make you squint and close your eyes
- Mid day sun – is likely to cast harsh shadows under your eyes
Light to look for
- Indoors – stand facing a large bright window, but try to stay out of the direct light which can be too harsh
- Outside – look for soft open shade
Tip 3 – Posing
- Imagine that you have a string tied to the top of your head pulling you up tall.
- Stand slightly sideways to the camera, front foot pointing towards the camera and weight on your back leg.
- Have your hands gently touching your thighs and pull your elbows slightly back
- Many women worry about having a double chin in their images and put their chins up in photos to avoid this – WRONG! This reduces the size of yours eyes, you can see up your nose and it is so unflattering. What you should do is think like a turtle – push your chin towards the camera and slightly down, this helps define your jaw line and opens your eyes.
Tip 4 – Expression
- Don’t try to smile for the camera (it always looks fake), think about what makes you happy, your favourite person or place or even your favourite fantasy and your natural smile will come through.
- Soften your lips by breathing through your mouth.
Tip 5 – Camera and lens choice
The camera does not lie! Actually this really isn’t true, the choice of lens (wide angle or zoom) does have a huge impact on your final image. You have to choose the right lens for taking portraits.
If you’ve ever taken a selfie with your smart phone, you have probably thought that you look odd in the images. Smart phones generally have 35mm wide angle lenses which will distort the shape of your face when used close up. They will make your chin, nose or forehead look odd.
If you must use your phone, then get someone else to take the image, but make sure they stand back to avoid the effects of the lens distortion and that they take the photo at your eye level. If they are much taller than you and are pointing the camera down at you, this will make you look a lot shorter thank you actually are.
If you are using a ‘normal’ camera with a zoom lens, try using around a 50mm lens, which is what your eyes see and this will be ideal for close ups.
I know there is there is a lot to think about but try a few of these tips and see what you think and remember, have fun!