Due to my (selflessness, awesomeness, sheer stupidity…?), I’ve summoned up the bravery to use myself as the guinea pig for today’s tell-all exposé: we fake so much. And it’s awesome. Releasing completely unretouched, unedited photos of myself, I’m going to demo a few tricks of the trade. (Thanks to my hubby Adam Hendershott for helping me out with this one!)
Here’s a list of the…
Top Five Most Helpful Things You Can Fake (or Make!) During a Photoshoot:
1) Real smile – Forget everything you’ve learned about saying “Cheese!”. The trick is literally to trick yourself into having a real moment! Most people have a hard time keeping a straight face when they’re told they’re not allowed to break. Then the challenge becomes keeping your focus on the camera instead of looking down or covering your face while you have a real laugh or smile.
Try forcing yourself to keep a straight face while you proclaim your most villainous, “Ha, ha, ha!” for a few times, as you direct your gaze into the lens and just off-camera, depending on the types of shots you’d like to get.
Or try a simple fake laugh with a straight face, if you need a smaller boost.
The most subtle version is to just “laugh into it” to access the sparkle of a real moment.
2) Superstar arms – We’ve all seen the go-to red carpet hand on the hip, but start paying attention to pro celebrity moves (on pretty much any People.com slideshow, for starters) and learn some new tricks. There’s the thumb in the pocket (or belt loop variation), the shoulders and elbows back, the fake hip pocket (helpful with dresses or skirts), the purse hold… The main thing these all have in common is that they anchor the body language with an action, promote good posture, and put distance between the torso and arm, allowing for an all-over minimizing effect. Go ahead, try it.
3) Superstar face – Aside from getting a pro makeup artist… There are a few tricks to highlighting your assets in a photo. Even the position of your face can affect the expression that comes across, and how flattering your bone structure appears. Even though it’s a common pose for high fashion models (who also have perfect bone structure and dramatic makeup to go with it), the photo on the top left can make most people look sleepy and bored. The photo on the bottom right looks evil. Just by tilting my chin, each image gives off a different impression.
Whatever is closest to camera will be the feature that takes over. Depending on the degree of difference, the effect can be subtle highlighting or blatant upstaging- just be mindful of how you use this one! Practice in front of the mirror to find your own sweet spot- engaging, relaxed and natural, with eyes and expression highlighted, bone structure most flattering.
Also, a photo from straight-on will highlight anything that’s not symmetrical. According to a super non-scientific survey I did of the people we’ve worked with, 99.9% of the general population have an asymmetrical face. Play with different angles on both sides of your face to see which ones work best for you.
4) Proper fit- Sometimes, even if a top or dress fits perfectly in real life, it can look formless and unflattering on camera. Or you can find a cute top three sizes too big and still make it work. Since you’ll only be capturing one side of your wardrobe (usually the front), you can use the other side to hide strategically placed clips and create a more picture perfect silhouette. Bring a stash of various sized butterfly clips (like the ones at Staples!) to your next photoshoot and you’ll be ready for anything. Nip your waist in a bit, avoid an unintentional nip-slip by securing an errant neckline, or turn a regular bra into a halter. You can even use tissue to pad the clip for more delicate fabrics.
5) Camera Tricks- Because photographers compose an image in their camera, it will likely look different than what things look like in real life. A different lens, a different angle, a different crop… There are a million variables that influence the image that’s being taken. As long as you look good, and you’re achieving the outcome you’re looking for, that’s all that matters. (I talk about how to narrow down and communicate what you need in my last post, here.)
If your photographer takes you to a really blah location, or gets you in a very awkward body position, relax and wait to see the shot before you totally scrap the idea. Chances are, it will be awesome.
Additional Disclaimers and Confessions:
*I did my own makeup and hair but I can guarantee you, results would have been that much more awesome if I’d hired the pros to do it (lashes, contouring, glowing skin and magazine ready hair- yes please!). However, my point was to show the simple actions to take whenever you’re in front of a camera, not just at a professional photoshoot.
**And I wore the same tight black tank top for most of the day so you could see how much each change really does affect what you see, even in a regular photo- blemishes, flyaways, lint and all.
***One word. Photoshop. Don’t trust anything you see in a magazine. Most of those people look pretty regular without the hair/makeup/retouching/lighting/wardrobe/art direction that goes into a photoshoot. So stop being so hard on that girl in the mirror!