I went to the hairdresser’s yesterday. She’s relatively new in Warwick and she gave me a 20% off voucher to give to a friend so I decided a quick pic for Facebook of my new hairdo would be a great idea to see who wanted the voucher. I hadn’t got time to mess around getting a good selfie so I got my daugher, who’s 9, to use my camera. Here’s the result.
I love it and I’ve had lots of great feedback on it – it’s the most popular photo on my personal page so far this year! So how did I get a 9 year old to take a fantastic photo of me?
Well, credit where credit’s due: she’s been photographed by me so many times she knows to check the background (she told me she could see the computer behind me, so we moved slightly). And she took three shots in quick sucession in case I moved slightly or she did. And I set the camera up before I handed it over. But a lot of what makes this photo work is what I did as the subject – and they’re all things you can do if a friend wants to take a picture of you.
- Smile with your eyes as well as your mouth – We’re very alert to facial expressions. Even if your mouth is smiling, if the expression in your eyes doesn’t match, it looks forced. It’s hard when you’ve got a lens pointing at you so, if you’re struggling, imagine the camera is your husband/best friend/lover (whatever works for you) and they’ve just told you a funny story.
- Don’t tilt your chin up – I see this so often, usually because someone’s worried about having a double chin. While tipping your head back slightly solves the chin problem, it makes you look haughty. It also makes your eyes smaller. As humans, we find big eyes appealing so that’s not a good thing. If you are worried about a double chin, push your chin forward and drop it down slightly to give you a defined jaw line. It feels awkward, but if you’re looking straight at the camera it’s not noticeable in the picture.
- Find soft light that falls evenly on your face – The quality and direction of the light makes a huge difference to a portrait. I see it so often at weddings and parties – a guest wants to take a picture of their friends so they all gather together in a big patch of sunlight or under a downlighter because that’s where the brightest light is. But for a flattering picture, you need to avoid light that casts strong shadows – those shadows draw attention to wrinkles and spots, and can shade your eye sockets so you can’t see your eyes properly. Instead look for uniform soft light – e.g. a shady spot outdoors if it’s a sunny day. For this photo, I was sitting on the doorstep looking out into our garden on a cloudy evening so the light was very soft and coming from in front of me.
Practice the above and hopefully next time someone asks to photograph you, you’ll stand a better chance of getting a photo to be proud of.
If you’d like to find out more about how to pose for photos, I do talks to local groups on “How to look great in photos”. Contact me for more information.