Growing up, I always hated having my picture taken. Especially during my awkward teen years, I avoided the shutter at all costs. Taking a good picture seemed like an impossibility, I thought, as many others do, that I was just not photogenic and that I was doomed to look awful in pictures forever.

When I started dancing and performing, taking good pictures became increasingly important. Audiences are always wanting to take your picture and other dancers enjoy taking snapshots with their dancer friends. I had to do something – find out how to take great pix.

Google and YouTube to the rescue! After doing a little research I found that taking a great picture has more to do with physics, than me not looking good. I found practical tips that really helped increase my chances of getting good shots. It took some time and practice, and now people say I’m “photogenic.” Here are some of the strategies that helped me get better pix.


1. Add Depth to Your Face with Makeup
Picture taking is all about light and how it reflects off of you. When you wear makeup you are adding dimension to your face by enhancing or receding your facial features. It starts with evening out your skin tone with a good foundation, paying attention to areas of the skin that are red or dark. Make the eyes pop with filled brow and mascara. Balance the face top to bottom, with a bold, bright shade on the lip color. For advance make-upers that wanna look like a model and completely reshape their face or “fix” areas of their face they don’t like for pix, learn the art of contouring for maximum control over your look.
2. Accentuate with Color!
This is good advice for anytime, not just when you have your picture taken. Wear clothing/costume colors and accessories that flatter you and make your skin and eyes stand out. Are you cool or warm? Do you look best in fall, winter, spring or summer shades? Do you look best in silver or gold toned accessories? Find out and plan your entire wardrobe around it. Google “seasonal color analysis”
3. Be in the Spotlight
If its possible, have some control over the lighting your pictures are being taken in. The best light is diffused, even and soft, for example, early morning or dusk lighting conditions. Most of the time, we are not in a professional photography studio, that is lit perfectly to flatter. So, we have to make the best of natural and not so natural lighting sources. A good general rule is to face the light source. If you want more drama, stand to the side of the light source. Try to avoid standing directly under or above the light source, as it tends to cast unusual shadows and will seem harsh on the face. Standing in front of the light source, for instance with your back to the sun, will cause you to be in shadow and look more like a silhouette. So, let the light shine upon you, from the front, for the best pix.
4. Strike a Pose
Makeup is to the face, what the pose is to your body. Add more dimension, a better line, and shape to the body by standing on an angle towards the camera, not full front forward. Have your pose ready by practicing and find what looks best on you. Experiment in a mirror, turning your torso to the corner, bringing your forward-most knee in front of the other leg (pulled in), and your forward-most hand on your front hip, pulling the elbow back softly, don’t leave it sticking out. Standing with good posture, play with finding the best angle for your body and your favorite arm and knee positions and practice, until you can position yourself with precision on queue. Tip: Try not to be the one closest to the camera in group shots, the closest thing to the camera will always appear larger. 😉
5. Know Your Best Side
Not only does your body look best on an angle, so does your face. Thing is, most of us, and some would argue, that none of us are perfectly symmetrical where both sides of our face are exactly the same. Nearly everyone has a side that they feel is better than the other. Statistically, “they” say the left side is best. What’s yours? Find out, by taking your picture (at an angle, of course and minding the suggestions above) towards each side of your face and see which one you prefer. Then you will know which side you’ll want to face the camera next time it’s in focus. Tip: For the best facial shot, don’t turn your head so much, turn your body, push your chin a little forward and down, tilting your forehead down a bit. This will reduce common issues with wrinkled necks and double chins. What about top to bottom? If you have some control of the photographer, have them take full-length shots from a lower angle, so you’ll look taller and slimmer, and take seated photos from a higher angle (tilting your face upward toward the camera to define the jaw line.)
6. Relax the Face!
For the most natural looking shot keep the face relaxed. To avoid over-smiling, Say “shimmy”, not “cheese”. “Cheese” has the risk of tightening too many of the facial muscles, drawing the lips tightly over the teeth. “Shimmy” is a little more relaxed. Also, tucking the tip of your tongue behind the upper front teeth when you smile helps to keep things looking pleasant and natural.
7. The Eyes Have It
Besides boobs and butts, eyes are one of the most loved features photographed. To reduce the deer-in-headlights look, have the camera-person count down and keep your eyes closed, opening your eyes just before the shot is taken. This helps to reduce opening the eyes too much while staring at the camera too long, waiting for the pic to be taken. If deer-in-highlights isn’t your problem, but red-eye is, look directly at a bright light source before you look at the camera, just before the picture is taken. This causes your pupils to narrow and will help you avoid red-eyed pix.
8. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Most Photogenic of Them All”
Most important tip is… practice. You must become more comfortable in front of the camera in order to be able to relax and apply the suggestions above in an instant. This just takes good ol’ fashioned practice. So, start loving the camera and your chances of getting great shots will definitely improve.