A fairly new marketing concept being used by photographers is to encourage our clients to "exist in pictures." Yes, we all have fun with the occasional selfie or snapshot taken during a family gathering, but when was the last time you thought, "I want to capture this time in my life in an heirloom-quality photograph?" Probably not since you were married or experienced some other major event.
Portrait photography is not a luxury. It isn't narcissistic. It is an investment in your future, so that those who see it in the years to come can also remember that moment, see the family resemblance, or share in the joy. Too often I hear, "I don't look good in pictures" or "I need to lose ten pounds first," and to that I say, "Let me photograph you." My task as the photographer is to watch for the details, to pose you in ways that flatter your face and body, and to create images that reflect who you are. Whether you have a photo session with me or someone else--even if it is a casual family pic taken at an upcoming holiday event--here are a few tips to remember when posing in a picture.
Your chin. The most common thing I say during a photo session is, "Chin down." So many people raise their chin as soon as they see a camera, and all this does is make them look haughty. Try this, right now while you're reading this page. Look straight ahead, bring your chin down, and push it slightly forward. While it may not be the most comfortable position, this movement elongates your neck and reduces the double-chin effect when you smile.
Your shoulders and spine. Being tense at the thought of posing often causes our shoulders go up to our ears. Relax them, open up your collarbones, and gently pull your shoulders blades back. Now pull up from your waist as if an invisible string is straightening your spine. Unless you're going for a high-fashion slouch, proper posture will make you look slimmer in a picture if you're standing or seated.
Your eyes. This is the most important element in a good picture. America's Next Top Model creator Tyra Banks calls it "smizing" (smiling with your eyes) and famed head shot photographer Peter Hurley believes in the "squinch," but it's all about making a connection with the camera. Sure, you can look in the direction of the photographer, but it's when we make that intimate connection that the final image has an impact on its viewer. Practice in the mirror. Look at yourself, and then really look. Feel your eyes working as they go from relaxed to focused. Every other element in a picture is meaningless if your eyes seem vacant.
Other quick tips when posing include turning your body to the side, putting your weight on your back foot if you're standing, and using your hands to draw attention to your face or to cover a bump or bulge.
To exist in pictures is to give a gift to the future--yours and the future of those who love you. Let's create an album, a framed print, or a slideshow set to your favorite music. You deserve it.