A Model's Guide to Getting Great Photographs
By Cindy Joseph
It seems everybody wants to look good in photographs!
In my 45 years as a makeup artist, I’ve worked with thousands of models. I have been modeling myself now for 17 years.
Over the years, I came to understand what makes a person “photogenic.” I first noticed that when someone was trying to look a certain way the shots never hit the mark.
I also witnessed what happened when people felt comfortable in front of the camera, enjoyed the process and were not afraid to simply be themselves. They always looked the most “photogenic” in shots.
After watching this phenomenon for many years, I ended up modeling myself. And one day as I sat on set waiting for the photographer to get the lighting right, and the stylist to get the clothes in order, I was thinking about what my role was as the model.
Other than making sure you could see the hemline of my dress, looking towards the key light, or demonstrating there was a pocket in my pants, I also had to look pleasant, happy, content and confident in myself.
Otherwise, the shots would never work, no matter how good the lighting, clothing, and makeup was. The only way to look that way is to genuinely feel that way.
Feel good to look good.
Wow, what great job I had. My job was to truly feel good! I was getting paid to feel good.
But that may be easier said than done. I could have never modeled when I was younger. I was way too self-conscious and self-critical to ever be photogenic.
I had to live a lot of years to feel confident enough to step in front of the camera. Also, I had to understand that looking good is feeling good. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, or what hairstyle you have.
You’re not going to look good unless you feel good. And the camera captures the truth!
So with that in mind, here are a few ideas for taking your best pictures.
Forget you’re having your picture taken.
When I was younger, somewhere between 19 and 25-years-old, my husband was teaching himself photography. I was one of his practice subjects. He took a lot of pictures of me.
Whenever he pointed his camera at me I would protest and ask him to wait so I could primp myself and “get ready” to pose.
My photos never came out well. I looked awkward and uncomfortable. You could see my tension and insecurity. I was not photogenic at all!
He rarely gave me a break. After months is this, I got to the point where I just didn’t care how my photos came out anymore.
I let go of my need to look a certain way and just relaxed. He could shoot as much as he wanted to, I was going to continue doing whatever I was at the time and not concern myself with “looking good.”
And guess what? Once I relaxed and started to genuinely enjoy myself, my photos started to look pretty good.
If you’re not trying to look a certain way, and you can be yourself, you can become photogenic.
Lighting is important.
It’s not very complicated to tweak your lighting a bit so it’s more flattering.
Open the shades or set up a big light to point directly at you. It’s best if you’re lighted from the front, rather than from the sides, above or below.
Shadows are also less than flattering, so pay attention to how shadows are impacting your lighting.
Take a mirror and walk around. As you move, watch how your face changes as the light changes. You will start to see the differences.
No professional model poses. They get in front of the camera and move!
Real life is movement. No one sits like a stone. We breathe, express, look at things, think, laugh, stretch, stand, sit, rock.
Just do what feels natural and comfortable, and you can add this movement to your photographs—without posing.
Take a lot of pictures!
All those magazine covers you see of models and celebrities are the result of hundreds of shots.
You don’t see the number of shots they take before they get the right one. Once they choose the best shot, hours of retouching comes next.
Odds are you won’t have a professional photographer, hundreds of shots, or retouching for all your pictures. So give yourself a break. Relax and have fun with it.
Every shot does not have to be the one. Stick your tongue out, shake off the tension, growl, play peek-a-boo. Loosen up.
Let the camera snap one after another. Eventually you will calm down and not care so much. That’s when the photos will start looking better. Practice practice practice!
Before you shoot, remember this.
A photograph is one split second in time.
We all have hundreds of muscles that are always moving, and changing our expressions slightly.
One blink and you can look like you’re asleep! One forced smile, and you no longer look like yourself.
So it’s only natural that you would need to take a lot of shots to get that one fabulous photograph where everything lines up just right.
Take your time, take many shots, and know that’s what is involved in getting a good shot, even for the pros.
Yes, you can be photogenic too! Give it a try.
Ask a friend to be part of a “photo session” and have fun. Take turns being the photographer and the model.
Let us know how it goes!
CHECK OUT OUR MOST POPULAR CONTENT