How to look great in photos: from personal snaps to street style

There’s no point in denying it, we’re currently living in such a visual world that the simple act of taking pictures is no longer just about capturing a specific moment. Today we all want our very best versions to represent us in front of the camera and looking good – great even – in photographs became somewhat of an one and only goal. After all, a photo is what stands between us and the rest of the digital world.

Some people are born photogenic and for those snapping a great photo comes naturally, with little trouble and even less planning behind. Others instead don’t seem to be able to capture the light just right, no matter how much effort is being put into every single one of their frames. Regardless if we’re talking personal style, street style, a Facebook or Instagram account, memory keepsakes or resume profiles, we all deserve that great shot able to put a large smile on our face. Sometimes that shot hides in plain sight.

Every quest starts with a plan, with a list of reliable tips and tricks and with the necessary patience to put it all in practice, time and time again until finally getting it right. Feeling confident and looking terrific in photos is just a matter of finding out what works for you. So, if you want to look great in photos and especially if you want photographing your outfits to turn into the best possible experience, make sure to follow some easy steps, listed right after the break.

how to look good in photos

Pose

Aside from a good camera, looking good in photos is mostly influenced by your ability to pose and that’s exactly why you should feel comfortable with yourself and keep an open mind whenever facing the camera lens. Relaxing and posing naturally is a great first step in achieving the best results, the rest is a matter of practice. Remember to:

  • Stay true to yourself and explore whatever qualities make you unique
  • Move around, dance, walk, sit, don’t be afraid to showcase movement as clothes are best highlighted by a dynamic presence
  • If you choose to play serious, let your eyes cast all the necessary energy
  • A gentle smile is always a good idea, as long as it appears natural and sincere
  • Snap a few candid shots for a change as they’re the best way to let your true colors shine
  • Don’t look directly into the camera, instead focus your eyes slightly above the camera lens
  • Hold your arms slightly away from your body if you want them to look slimmer – pressing them in against your body will make them look bigger than they are
  • In full-length shots, try turning three quarters away from the camera rather than standing front on if you want to appear more slender
  • Elongate your neck, raise and stick out your chin just a little, do not slouch

how to pose
Doina Ciobanu of The Golden Diamonds striking a pose.

Light

In photography light is almost like magic. It can make or break a photograph, it’s unpredictable yet so unique and it can be used to your advantage. But to find the perfect light, you must permanently seek it outdoors and forget about the indoors for as much as possible.

Keeping away from direct sunlight is another must, as it brings along lots of shadows that will end up making you look unflattering. That’s also why you should permanently make sure that your face and outfit are well lit. Most importantly, learn to take advantage of the “Golden Hour”, as it’s the absolute best time to take pictures. The golden hour happens twice a day, usually one hour after sunrise, and an hour before sunset.

This is the time when nature gains a magical character, when the photographs turn soft and when the light gains a warm quality. Facing the sun or having the sun behind you at this precise time will result in gorgeous photographs, defined by a unique glowy effect.

golden hour lighting street style
Photo: Doina Ciobanu shot by Lightaholic.

Background

Finding a great background weights just as much in the overall aspect your photograph gains, so make sure to choose one that complements both your outfit and your concept for the entire shoot. You can seek a background that effortlessly enriches the colors, prints or patterns of your outfit, or one that fits the specific style you are portraying at the time. Think old, vintage buildings as a way of enhancing the charm of a retro look for example.

A contrasting background could also help highlight your outfit but in a bolder and more unexpected way, while a clean, not-to busy background would make for a safe, yet highly successful means of showcasing an outfit. Try moving farther away from the camera while remaining close to the center of the frame if you want to also reveal the scenery behind you. Avoid playing that one note in your pictures and instead explore your surroundings.

If you don’t want to show off too much of your surroundings, make sure the camera is set up to have a good depth of field – i.e. you’re in sharp focus but the background is blurred. This also keeps the background from busing your photos too much.

background contrast
Contrasting outfit and background.

Camera angle

The angle of the camera shouldn’t give you too much trouble, but at the same time it shouldn’t be treated with less importance than any of the aspects already mentioned above. You should constantly be aware of where the camera is in order to make the best out of the shooting experience. A chest height is ideal as it helps avoid deformation, while at the same time prevents you from loosing important inches.

Avoid shooting with the camera positioned above you, especially if you’re standing, unless the photographer is shorter than you. Don’t settle for anything that doesn’t feel right and keep playing with the angles to ensure your pictures will gain unique perspectives. Shoot vertically for full body shots that will allow you to showcase the entire outfit. For detail shots and mid height photographs try shooting horizontally so you can get in close.

Props

Some people have turned the use of props into a real art and as long as you can benefit from their presence there’s absolutely nothing wrong in sharing the frame with a statement bag, a nice bouquet of flowers, a set of colorful balloons or a lovely bicycle. It’s all about fitting the right elements in your story and making the most of them. Get creative, have fun and the rest will just follow.

balloons street style
Making use of props: blogger Nicole Warne.

Other helpful Tips & Tricks

  • The key to achieving perfection, or a greater result at least, is to keep practicing in the mirror everything in between facial expressions and posture, whenever you get the chance
  • Find your angles and figure out your best profile, we all have one and it is usually the left one
  • Keep your tongue behind your upper teeth as it helps relax the face
  • Make sure your eyes are always facing the light, as they are key to a great photograph
  • Always shoot a lot so that you are left with enough good pictures even after applying a drastic selection
  • Try thinking happy thoughts and showcasing a different range of emotions
  • Look at old photographs, learn from mistakes and emphasize the aspects you really like
  • Find inspiration in other photographs, in other people’s posing techniques, but remain true to yourself
  • Master a few poses that make you look good at all times
  • Act natural and don’t try too hard, you still want to look believable
  • Moisturize your skin, powder your nose and don’t go over the top with the make-up
Share some style:
how to create and pose for beautiful photos in order to look your very best.%0A%0A" target="_blank">

Want to keep up with fashion?

Once a week, we send out an update with the latest fashion trends, styles and collections.
Get yours direct in your inbox and keep ahead of fashion.

Our newsletter is spam free and your email address will never be shared or sold.
Author

Written by .

Shaped by all things beautiful and feminine, Nicoleta Parascan’s first steps towards entering the captivating world of fashion were taken somewhere around the young age of six, when she received her very own first fashion magazine. Discovering an entirely new universe, filled with pretty ladies and beautiful clothes, there was not much able to ever beat or compete with the fantasy land that was suddenly opening up. Surrounded by books, constantly thinking about the next best outfit, in search of a signature style and defined by a nostalgic calling towards the past, Nicoleta believes in taking chances, in destiny and in building her own path in life. When she’s not writing, you can easily find her playing with her cat, reading an old book, watching movies, exploring the city or blogging her own daily adventures.