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.
What a lovely photo Linda, it really captures “you”, and some fantastic tips here – thanks for sharing them. I never knew that second tip and I’ll now be free of a double chin ;)
Thanks Sarah :-)
Very timely as I have to take some new photos of our charity Trustees which currently look like they have just left jail and we have no funds to hire a photographer. I will put this into practice!
Glad to be of help Jenny. Let me know how you get on.
Will try these tips. My photos are always so depressing…I wonder if I really look that bad!!
As a photographer myself, I know these are great tips Linda. More importantly your blog is a great resource for business people…
Thanks very much Anita :-)
What a lovely photo, well done to your daughter.
These tips are great, I always seem to freeze as soon as I see a camera anywhere near me so the resulting photos look dreadful,
Very useful tips! I’m pleased to read in the other comments that I am far from being the only one who hates having a picture taken …
Thanks David. Most people hate having their photo taken so you’re definitely not alone :-)
Fabulous advice. I got my husband to take a photo of me for an article at short notice and everybody loves it. It took a couple of attempts. He doesn’t take notice of the background – it’s like he doesn’t even notice it’s there or he takes the photo so that I’m so small, and then says “well you can always crop it”. In the end, I got him to stand in the right place, set it up and then we swapped places.
Glad you got a great photo. It’s actually really hard to take notice of the background – you have to train yourself to really look hard. Our brains haven’t got enough processing power to take in everything so they filter out the stuff that’s normally unimportant, but things growing out of your head, etc are important in a photography.