Are you someone who thinks you don’t take a good picture? Or maybe you’ve been plagued by that awkward or unflattering picture of you at a special occasion—maybe a wedding, a birthday, or family reunion—that seems to follow you for life? Having done a lot of photo shoots, here’s what I’ve learned: A really good photo shows your soul qualities—who you really are behind your eyes.
The reason a photographer doesn’t quite capture YOU has to do with a couple things. Many times the person taking the photo doesn’t know how to convey caring and love. And so you aren’t able to reflect that back. It could be that you’ve had some kind of shaming or judgment about pictures in the past. Or maybe you learned to “pose” or create a fake smile, like you see kids do when they are about seven.
So, before going into a professional shoot or a big event where you know you’ll be posing for a while, “arm” yourself with a series of funny memories that will immediately make you smile.
You can picture a child or pet being particularly silly and adorable. Or remember those hilarious—or not so hilarious—jokes that your husband or goofy uncle always told. If you keep those in your head, and draw on them when the camera starts clicking, the camera will pick up your joy.
It’s also great to have a good friend with you, especially if she (or he) has an artistic eye. Not all photographers remember to straighten a collar, a necklace, or whatever. So you can get a great photo with your necklace askew! I hate that! Your friend can be your “hype girl,” too. That’s someone who can get you to relax and laugh.
You also want your friend to tell you when you have gotten tired and your smile is kind of plastered on. That means it’s coming from the cortical area of your brain. A cortical smile is entirely different from a limbic smile. It doesn’t come from deep inside, so the photo won’t capture your personality.
A little makeup is always good. I recommend at least some lipstick.
It’s also really important to have good lighting. The “magic hour” for great photos is late afternoon or early morning light. Midday light is considered hot, and it is not flattering! Savvy actresses like Oprah have always known that great lighting is key. When I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I was aware that she had the best lit sets ever. And I always looked far better on her show than on some others.
If you’re going to be posing for a long time, make sure you stop and move around. Have a good playlist of cool, upbeat music ready to keep you feeling great and to keep any young children from getting too bored before the photographer finishes.
I often make funny faces throughout my shoots, and suggest it highly! (Although not while the photographer is taking photos.) This will encourage your precious gorgeous self to beam out of your eyes!