Whether you’re attending a wedding, presenting at a conference, or even having professional headshots done, being in front of a camera is something you’ll definitely encounter. And believe it or not, the art of being photogenic is easier to master than you may think.
Here’s a list of style guidelines and physical cues that will give anyone the ability to look good in front of the lens.
Capture Your Best Side
Position yourself to accentuate your facial structure and jawline. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is by sticking out your chin slightly to elongate your neck. Another tactic is to tilt your forehead towards the camera and (ever-so-slightly) downward. From there, a small head tilt, left or right, can ease the look into a more natural state.
Bring Out Your Duchenne Smile
The difference between a Duchenne smile and a regular smile is the level of perceived authenticity. The “Duchenne smile” was named after 19th-century French physician Guillaume Duchenne, who studied the physiology of facial expressions. Instead of relying solely on your lips, smile with your cheekbones and eyes, which naturally raises your lips into a smile as well. This prevents you from looking like you forced your facial expressions and makes your smile on camera seem much more genuine.
Lean on a Leg
Continuing with our theme of working the angles, the subtle act of shifting your weight ever so slightly to one side or the other helps you avoid any stiffness in photos. You don’t need to do this an excessive amount, just enough to convey a sense of relaxation and comfort.
Relax Your Jaw
Clenching your jaw or opening your mouth can result in some peculiar photo results. The best way to remedy this is to relax your jaw area. Even when your lips are closed, if you avoid clenching and relax your chin instead, this makes for a more natural framing of your face in the picture.
Choose Color Wisely
Our eyes are always drawn to the lightest part of a photo. So it’s best to avoid white or very light colored shirts in photos, unless they’re under a darker jacket. You want a bit of color to draw the focal point towards your face, but not wash you out. A blue chambray shirt is a good choice. If you have a darker complexion, try wearing gray or charcoal.
When choosing a color for your suit, darker colors will be more slimming than lighter ones. Whether or not you’re wearing a suit, it’s always safest to choose solid hues rather than patterns.
Colors can evoke certain emotions—precisely why politicians and figureheads favor blue suits and red ties. Blue, for instance conveys intelligence and trustworthiness, while red signifies boldness and passion. Dark gray is more conservative; black can signal authority and power. Keep this in mind when choosing colors—along with the colors that best complement your skin, eye color, and hair—but when in doubt, neutrals like navy, grey, or charcoal are a good bet.
Accentuate Your Shape
There’s a lot that a well-fitted suit jacket and shirt can accomplish in making you camera-ready. Collared shirts, for example, help frame your face in pictures. Choose the style according to your face shape: narrow-point collars for round faces, wide/medium spread collars for angular faces, and anything goes for oval faces.
Diving further, suit jackets help to enhance your body shape in a number of ways by lengthening the torso, emphasizing the shoulders, and slimming the waist.
Stand Out From the Pack
Risk-taking and tasteful accessorizing can do wonders for your look when executed properly. From something as subtle as a mustache tie clip to something more apparent like an olive corduroy suit, a nice balance of clean, tailored fits mixed with unique textures and accessories results in a smart outfit that leaves an undeniable impression on-camera. Don’t forget your shoes as well—they give you that subconscious poise that starts from bottom-to-top (whether the actual shoes appear in the frame or not). If looking good for photos means channelling confidence, then fine footwear most certainly plays a part in getting you there.
It’s difficult to disguise a wrinkled garment, and photos are everlasting. If you can, spend that extra 10 minutes in your day to iron your shirt, or invest in some wrinkle-free options. Don’t have an iron? Here are some other quick dress shirt hacks to help.
Above all else, nothing else in the playbook trumps being true to yourself. These tips, when combined with being genuine, accentuate your best qualities on camera to make a lasting impression.