• Style

How To Take A Great Picture

Whenever I get on Facebook I feel depressed. I seem to spend most of my time untagging myself in pictures so my third grade boyfriend doesn’t see me looking like I have four chins and a lazy eye. To make matters worse, it seems everybody else is beautiful, photogenic and having The Best Time Ever. Given that I’m generally having a decent time and am at least moderately attractive, I believe the problem is the pictures.

Upon closer examination, most photogenic people (by that I mean anyone under 25) have a sort of signature look, the pose they do in every picture—whether it’s on The Great Wall or at their grandmother’s house—that they know makes them look fabulous.

I have no look. I have tried to create one, but I just end up looking pained. I figure it’s time to go the experts…First on my list is my friend Kari. She’s a twentysomething who has mastered her own signature pose and looks good in every picture she takes.

“My pose was inspired by the Olsen Twins,” she said, “And it became kind of a joke: ‘Let’s do our Olsen Twins pose!’” She tried to coax me into trying it myself, with this advice:

1. Tilt your chin slightly downward.
2. Get a higher camera angle.
3. Be willing to pose for a lot of pictures till you find the look that works.
4. Hm. Her pictures still look better than mine.

Next up, Don Phillips, a fashion photographer. He says that working with models requires that you pump them up and make them feel like a superstar. When he works with regular people, he gives them the simplest instructions—down to earth things to do, things they can relate to—to get them to have fun. His advice for my shots:

1. Tilt your head—just a slight incline—to look sassy and fun, a happy-go-lucky kind of look.
2. For more of a pout, imagine your boyfriend has been away for a month. Now he comes back and wants to watch football. Imagine the look you’d give him.

The head tilt does, indeed, make me look happy-go-lucky, but I’m not sure my “What the HELL are you thinking?” look is the one I want immortalized.

Finally, my upstairs neighbor and freelance stylist extraordinaire, Roshawna Jackson assuages my dismay at being unable to master the art of the pose. “Modeling is harder than we think it is,” she said. “Celebrities are definitely coached. They’re taught.” She suggests:

1. Never look directly into the camera. Look at the eyes of the photographer, or their forehead.
2. Give long-neck. Jut your neck out ever-so-slightly. If it feels really stupid or it hurts, it’s the right pose.
3. Don’t slouch, sit up straight. Arch the back just a little, but not so much that you’re poking the breasts out.
4. Don’t be afraid of the camera. Exude confidence. Think “I’m perfect at what I do, I’m smart, I’m beautiful.”
5. To do the red carpet look, tilt your head, subtle smile, little bit of teeth, open mouth.
6. The pout is very sexual. To pout say “blue.” (Kari tells me that the Olsen twins say “prune.”)
7. Lots of teeth is not good teeth.
8. If you want to learn how to pose, go to the red carpet. That will show you how lots of women of various shapes and sizes do it.

I’m not quite ready for my six-page photo spread (I blame this partly on the fact that my camera has a five second delay; how long can you say the word “blue” anyway?), but I’m getting warmer. New and improved pictures coming soon to a Facebook near you.

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