From cocktail party poses to candid videos to the #nomakeup selfie…the pervasiveness of social media can make you feel like you have to be camera-ready, all the time! That’s enough to make anyone anxious, especially if – like most people – you don’t love the way you look in pictures. But being self-conscious shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the moment, even when the cameras start clicking. If a camera coming out at the park makes you want to duck behind the nearest tree…there is something you can do!
The very nature of photography – reducing something three-dimensional into a two-dimensional image – can make things look very different in pictures than they do in real life. (So you can take comfort in the fact that, NO, you DON’T really look like that!) If you ever watch video footage of red carpet events, you’ll notice that stars often strike practiced poses that look absolutely ridiculous from the side…but they look great from the angle of the still cameras. Their publicists and handlers have taught them tricks to use the principles of optics to their advantage. Learn some of the same tricks, and some day you can stop untagging yourself in your friends’ Facebook pics!
- The Key to it All: Your Smile
- As silly as it may feel, practice smiling in front of the mirror, and take selfies to test out different expressions. Work on making your most flattering smile come naturally when the cameras come out. If you can, “warm up” your smile BEFORE the shot is taken, so your cheeks don’t feel stiff and your lips don’t stick to your teeth.
- If you want to look younger, fresher, and more beautiful – in pictures and in everyday life – whiten your teeth. This time of year, a white smile looks especially great against a summer tan (wear SPF!). Today, people are so used to seeing PhotoShopped magazine images and veneer-filled celebrity smiles that the bar is raised for all of us…perfectly normal, slightly yellow teeth now look “abnormal!” Luckily, most people can whiten their teeth quickly and successfully with over-the-counter whiteners, like those from GO SMiLE. It’s a great investment – a few days of whitening can make your smile brighter for months.
- To make your teeth look straighter and more perfect, try smiling with the edges of your upper front teeth gently touching your lower lip, and push your tongue right up behind them for the shot. This will show as much tooth as possible, visually “smooth out” rough edges, and prevent darkness from showing in the “empty space” behind them, so your teeth will look bigger and brighter! It also can make your lips look fuller.
- Even if you’re proud of your teeth, keep in mind that most people don’t show their bottom teeth when they smile. So don’t force that bottom lip down to show off all your choppers…you’re more likely to look like you’re grimacing than happy.
- If you know you’re going to have a lot of pictures taken over a few hours, take a (slightly gross) tip from the beauty pageant world: a little slick of Vaseline on the front of your teeth will makes your teeth look more reflective and whiter. It also keeps your lips from sticking to your teeth when you smile, and keeps dark lipstick from transferring to them. (Or for a couple pictures here and there, just lick your teeth before a shot.)
- Camera-Friendly Makeup
- Don’t despair if you’re not one of the few people blessed with flawless, natural beauty from the moment you wake up. Because guess what – 99% of the most beautiful women in the world aren’t, either. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting in a little work to look your best, and embracing – not resenting – the power of makeup!
- Coral or orange-red is a trendy lip color this season, but it can make your teeth look more yellow. Typically, blue-based or cool-toned lip colors make teeth look whiter, and gives a nice rosiness to the face. Experiment and learn what looks best on you. Trends and tips aside, if something doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.
- If your face tends to look fuller than you like in pictures, learn to contour and highlight – subtly! Contouring means using matte colors darker than your skin to add “shadows” to make parts of the face look more defined or slimmer, and highlighting is using lighter or slightly reflective colors to make other areas (cheekbones, browbones) look more prominent. There are dozens of YouTube videos on how to do it properly. Hint: Practice at home, before you go out in public, to find a technique that is effective and flattering on your facial structure, but doesn’t look too obvious in real life.
- Cameras pick up light in a way that emphasizes skin texture issues, so prep your complexion to reflect light in a pretty way. Use a smoothing anti-shine primer with silicone – under makeup or alone – if you have oily skin or if your skin texture is uneven. Use a good moisturizer if you’re dry and tend to look flaky or ashy.
- Do your makeup for “film,” not “stage.” If you’re in a play, you need dramatic makeup to be seen by the audience. But in close-up pictures, eye makeup may look brighter, darker, or more garish than in real life, especially in daylight. So unless you’re going for that look, err on the side of subtle. And don’t overdo the glitter – its effect is magnified on camera!
- If you use “high definition” face powder that is designed to reflect light in a flattering way, apply it lightly, and blend blend blend! Even if you can’t see it with the naked eye, flashbulbs can make the powder look like a thick, white layer of flour (or worse!) on your face in pictures. Even the most beautiful celebs in the world have fallen victim to this – most recently Angelina Jolie…you can Google it.
- If it’s dark enough for flash photography, and the sun isn’t out, consider using a foundation without sunscreen. The light-screening nature of certain SPF ingredients can reflect the flash, leaving your face looking pale or chalky.
- Avoiding the “Extra Ten”
- It’s true and maddening – the camera can make us look 10 pounds heavier as it “flattens” our 3D bodies into 2D images. (Again, don’t worry – you DON’T really look like that!) Angling one side of your body slightly away from the camera is more flattering than facing it squarely. Standing with your legs crossed at the knees or keeping your knees together and one heel off the ground can make your legs look slimmer and longer. Practice in advance!
- To avoid the dreaded double chin, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth to tighten the area under your jawline during a shot. Don’t slouch or pull your face back – in fact, jut your chin out, toward the camera a bit. This also helps your body look smaller, relatively, because what’s farther away always looks smaller. It may looks weird in real life – but it’s great through the lens! For the same reason, you can emphasize your eyes rather than your chin by slightly tilting your head down, with eyes aiming up towards the camera.
Perhaps the best tip – and it’s not a trick – is to be confident and have fun! It will come through in pictures, and that’s what people will notice…not whether you look less than perfect. We tend to be far more critical of ourselves than others are. And it’s far better to be caught looking ridiculous while having a great time, than looking great while sitting on the sidelines! It’s important that we learn to appreciate ourselves and our lives, exactly as they are, so that our smiles are plentiful and genuine. But all that said…it certainly doesn’t hurt to look as beautiful in pictures as we truly are!
About the Author:
GO SMiLE Communications Manager Jennifer Mathias has been working in the beauty industry for over 10 years, developing and marketing skincare, cosmetics, and now oral care – “smile beauty” – products. She’s a self-professed beauty product junkie and science geek whose favorite hobby is to find and evangelize products that are based on solid technology and that really work! She is responsible for communicating the benefits of GO SMiLE products and teeth whitening in general, to help women make smart choices about their beauty investments.