So I was going through my pics and came across yet another photo where I just happened to look like a linebacker in a dress. Sigh. We’ve all read or heard about those “look better in photos” tips, such as put your hands on your hips, smile with the tongue touching the roof of your mouth, or say “money.” These tricks may work for the pre-Facebook era, but not now.
So I called in an expert–freelance fashion and portrait photographer, Chris Fitzgerald–to blog about how to look better in your Facebook mugs. Here’s what he had to say…
As a photographer, I think Facebook is both wonderful and a bit terrifying. Wonderful–because it’s essentially a digital diary of all of my friend’s comings and goings. Couldn’t make it to the art opening last night? Someone I know has probably posted images within hours of the event. Same with concerts and parties… it’s not quite like being in the front row, but I don’t feel quite as left out. I also get to keep up with all of my awesome photographer friends who often post their latest work, their outtakes, and their upcoming gigs.
The terrifying part of FB is getting caught by one of these same friends on a night when you did go out. The next day I log in, anxious that someone tagged me in picture where I have food in my beard, a half closed eye, or where I look startled and stiff. Now, I suspect your friends are probably more thoughtful and sensitive and would kindly delete these unflattering images… but some of us are not so lucky. I’ve had to learn how to be photogenic on the fly.
I’m pretty good at spotting the camera ninja… you know this person, the one who has this tiny camera tucked away and takes the picture before you can protest. As soon as I spot this person, I check my posture. I’m a terrible sloucher when I sit (not as bad when standing). But this shows up in pictures and makes me look round and much shorter than my wife, who I won’t admit is taller than me. I also pull my shoulders back just the tiniest bit, which makes me look like I have impeccable posture.
When I can see the camera, I shift my body a bit so I’m not so straight-on, and I won’t look like I’m taking a mug shot. Turning your body a bit to the side and turning your head toward the camera shows off your figure in which often gets flattened by the flash on a camera.
Make eye contact with the shooter, and ever so slightly push your chin toward the camera. This lengthens the neck and remedies the dreaded double chin. Or, you can tilt your head just a bit so you look relaxed and not so posed.
Lastly, smile. It doesn’t have to be an ear-to-ear, ridiculous grin, but just a nice genuine smile. After all, you’re out, having fun… let that reflect on your face.
Now… for all you Facebook paparazzi…
If your camera has a “Portrait” mode, you might want to experiment with it. The facial recognition software in cameras is pretty good these days, and this will ensure everyone is in focus. Digital cameras are HORRIBLE about bumping up the red channel in photos and this is frightfully unflattering for skin tones. Sometimes the Portrait mode will help with this. If you can adjust your color settings, turning your overall saturation down just a bit will help.
Beware of florescent light. It casts a greenish tint to skin that makes everyone look awful. Use your on-camera flash to compensate. Usually this will overpower the tube lighting enough to look more natural.
Don’t say “cheese.” I think we’ve all been roboticized by this word that we flash this lackluster half-smile so we can get it over with. Whenever I hear “cheese” I’m immediately taken back to grade school class photos and I’m locked into that memory, regardless of how much fun I’m having at the time. I collect bad pickup lines. This is the perfect time to use one.
While it’s tempting to just upload every picture from your night out to Facebook, do a quick once over to make sure you haven’t caught anyone mid-yawn, with red-eye, or with queso dip on their chin. This will ensure you have friends to go out with in the future!
Chris lives with his wife and two enormous dogs in Midtown, and you’ve probably seen him running down East Parkway. You can view his work at http://www.cultnoir.com.