As a photographer, I get told to “make me look good”. I definitely do my best to make everyone look good- I work to find the beauty in each and every subject I have, to get the light right, and to choose a good location for what you and I are envisioning. BUT I can’t do everything. I have a few tips from working behind and in front of the camera from my modeling days that you can keep in mind during your sessions. There are always things that the clients can do to make themselves look and feel better for the day of their photo shoot- whether it’s your once a year portrait session, a once in a lifetime boudoir shoot, or your one and only wedding day. And here are some tips to jot down- from little to big they are all a step towards bringing out your greatness, individuality and sheer awesomness when in front of the camera.
1. Do-Dress to impress: (from babies to the elderly- this applies to all of you!). Don’t-throw on your favorite 10 year old worn t-shirt, jeans and sneakers unless this shoot is a memorial shoot for your old clothes. Simply put- always try to look your best. To take it a step farther, stylize yourself to look like they do in magazines- don’t wear something uncomfortable or shabby- unless that’s what you find impressive. Wear your clothes, don’t let them wear you. It’s important to know what makes you look good- know your body type. Wear what you feel good, happy and confident in, and don’t be afraid to check out what the mannequins in the stores are wearing- they usually know what they are doing. It obviously depends on what look you are going for in your session, but you should look the best you can in any genre from casual to black tie. Also note that if your shoot is glamour, swimwear or lingerie, wear loose fitting gym clothes which have no elastic bands. Do not wear underwear. Underwear leaves lines on the skin, which can require 30-60 minutes to disappear. After all, you are paying a lot for these photos and they will be memories that last forever.
2. Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself!: I can’t stress this enough. Have you ever noticed how someone who is really aesthetically attractive can loose all their appeal by being an ugly person from within? And then have you ever noticed how someone who may not be the next Gisele Bündschen or Ty Digges can be the most beautiful regardless of their looks? Well that’s because the it’s true- beauty comes from within. Being your bad-ass self is what makes you be you, and makes the photo’s yours and individual to you. That inner beauty is and being yourself gets caught on camera so keep that in mind! Beauty is in the simplicity and confidence of the inner you matched with your individual good looks.
3. Look like your best self: Unless you’re being paid to model for a brand or for some campaign and are told not to bring yourself to the table- there is no excuse to throw on globs of make up you bought just for the shoot, or to have your hair styled crazy way in which you would never wear. You should enhance your best features, but that is all. If you don’t know how to enhance your features, have a stylist, make up artist, and hair stylist or a friend with all these qualities, help you out. And keep in mind wild and disheveled hair may be better for you than the well-groomed look.
4. Be confident: Nothing more awesome than true confidence. ‘Nuff said.
5. Relax: Butt not too much- one thing they taught me when I was modeling is to pose, and then move into a more natural pose by taking a deep breath and relaxing. So there is a happy medium between posing and relaxing. When you pose and then move into a more natural feeling area of the pose- you have made it yours, and you have made it look natural. Perfection.
6. Act out your thoughts: Think about what you want to project- being in front of a camera is the same as being in front of a video camera- you are always acting, so get into character and get your mind into the right mood. Music definitely helps to set the mood but then it’s all about what you are thinking. For example thinking about your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other or someone you have a crush on helps to get a coi and come hither look. Or thinking about the baby you are about to have brings a look of excitement and joy mixed with a little fear sometimes. OR thinking about your wedding to come and how in love you are with the one you are about to marry helps to get that exact expression. Basically, my point is, the best way to capture the feeling of a person is to have them get lost in their thoughts…the feelings just come pouring out. It’s quite candid.
7. Smiezing: It’s a term you hear Tyra Banks use all-the-time- Smile with your Eyes. It’s an excellent skill to have in your bag of tricks. It’s smiling with out contorting your face into an actual smile….sounds difficult. Try it in the mirror. Practice it. Hold on to it. And use it forever and ever. You will love it. Promise.
8. Practice makes perfect: I’m giving you permission to be a little vain. Look at yourself in the mirror a lot- learn how to express what you are thinking…and learn to be aware of what you look like when you aren’t thinking about it. Look through some magazines, take a note from the experts- copy your favorite poses and make those yours.
9. Take Care of Yourself: Modeling101- There’s a lot here, so take it as far as you want.
- Get plenty of rest. Have a good night’s sleep and avoid partying the night before your shoot. Alcohol and cigarette smoke, even smoke in the air, can make your eyes red and puffy. Also, if you are a smoker bring down the number of cigarettes your smoke or stop completely before the shoot. Smoking deprives skin of oxygen and nutrients and makes it look gray.
- Wear antiperspirant.
- Make sure your finger and toe nails look clean and manicured. Use a clear nail polish which will go with any color clothing. If you must color your nails use a neutral white or cream. Red nails will look strange if your outfit is blue. If you dye your hair, make sure that you have had your roots recently treated. Studio lighting can exaggerate dark roots.
- If there will be a makeup artist at the shoot, arrive with no makeup on. If you will be doing your own makeup, remember that photography lighting- (in studio and under the hot sun) and the heat from the lights tend to make the skin look shinier than usual. Do not use any shiny or bright make-up that might cause reflection or glare during the photoshoot. Apply a base to smooth your skin and make it look consistent. Use mascara to bring out your eyes. Bring several colors of lipstick that you can apply depending on the color of clothing. If you do get a pimple the day of the shoot, do not touch it, as you will make it redder and harder to cover. Most photographers have no problem with one or two pimples as these can be easily covered with makeup or digitally removed by photoshop. If you have serious acne problems, be sure that your photographer knows this in advance.
- In your Diet avoid too much salt and iodine in your diet. Salt can lead to water retention in the skin and the skin surface does not look smooth and tight but tired and bumpy. Iodine, for example in sushi and marine dishes, can trigger break-outs. Include more fiber into your diet it will help your body to get rid of toxins, and drink plenty of water.
- If you shave, do so 2 days before the shoot, in order to give your skin a chance to recover. If you do it yourself, follow the main rules of depilation to avoid irritation and ingrown hair: cleanse your skin and exfoliate before depilation, do not stretch your skin when depilating, do not apply too much pressure when shaving or using hair depilation cream, do not run the shaver over one and the same spot several times or you can create irritated spots. If you have to, reapply shaving cream.
- Hopefully you moisturize your skin regularly. If not, certainly apply moisturizer on the days before and morning of the shoot. To make your skin look smooth, supple and glowing, consider using with a hydrating cream containing exfoliators such as hyularonic or glycolic acid.
- Work out- you may want to vary your routine to show off the muscles you’re most proud of. Or, a week before the shoot, you may want to increase the intensity of your workout. For example, if you usually do aerobics or body shaping, switch to working with gym equipment for a couple days. You will notice how well your muscles will respond. In no way does this mean you need to have a stereotypical fashion model’s body. Exercise can be great for any body and can boost confidence – and confidence is really what makes you attractive.
10. Don’t think too much: It’ll show. This isn’t rocket science. Just have fun and be as natural as possible.