A recurring theme for bigger men is that they hate having their photo taken. We asked MAN v FAT forumite and professional photographer Garry Seymour for his advice on looking good on camera even if you’re not at your target weight.
Have you ever been gripped with fear when a camera comes out of someone’s pocket at a party? Do you get cold sweats thinking about family portraits? Are you self-conscious or embarrassed when it comes to stepping in front of a camera? If that sounds like you (and it certainly sounds like me), then read on… I’ve got some great tips to turn you from a celluloid frog into a JPEG Prince.
- Don’t Fear The Reaper
There are two ways a bloke has his photo taken…
- With his mates – grabbing Guffer and Jugsy round the scruff of the neck, pulling the biggest cheesy grin in the world and shouting “Winkaaaaaah” into the lens.
- With his girlfriend/wife/parents – upright and straight like he’s been dropped onto a flagpole with either the sourest face you could ever imaging or the most forced smile in the world.
The trick here, guys, is not to fear either the camera or the results. I meet a lot of people who HATE having their photo taken and the reason is this – They HATE having their photo taken! Yep… if you hate having your photo taken it will show in the photo. It goes something like this…
- You hate having your photo taken.
- A camera comes out.
- You say no, then get roped into it.
- You try and shrink into non-existence in the hope that you’ll be too small to see.
- You’re spotted and made to smile so you part your lips and growl at the camera whilst wincing.
- You look at the photo on Facebook and see a hunched, growling, squinty eyed creature where you once stood.
- You comment “See… I TOLD you I look terrible in photos”.
- You hate having your photo taken…
When I do my Weddings, I always tell the prospective Bride and Groom to make sure they like me and get on well with me. I also try and organize an “Engagement Shoot” which helps me to know what they are like with a camera, them to know what I want from them and for them to feel comfortable with me before we get to their Wedding day.
I would rather a couple went with someone who they felt comfortable with than me having to look through 1000+ photos trying to find one of them smiling naturally. It’s a mutual thing really. Whether you don’t like the photographer or you feel uncomfortable in front of one, the result will be the same – a photo you don’t like. Have a look on the galleries pages at www.seymourphotosonline.co.uk to see some of my work.
So what can you do to stop looking like you are the National Gurning champion 1999-2014? Relax! Know that pretty much everyone doesn’t like having their photo taken (including me) and take comfort in that. Everyone else will see you in that photo as, well, you. The same person they see day in, day out. You, however, will over analyse your face and see the spots and wrinkles everyone else takes for granted. That’s fine – it’s just YOU.
DON’T – flinch, squint, look sour faced, frown, hunch, sulk or cry. All of these things will make a pretty bad photo!
Follow the next few steps and you’ll be looking like you’ve been modelling for years.
- Buffalo Stance
Just like a rugby match, where you need to square up to your opponent and brace for impact, you need the correct stance to make your photo look more like the Adonis you are and less like a passport photo/mugshot. Finding correct stance can do a few things…
- Make you look more comfortable.
- Make you look slimmer (yep, guys, you can fool all the ladies on your speed dating sites)
- Make you look taller, more attractive and richer (OK, maybe not the richer bit but definitely the other two)
So, how can you achieve this? Well, you’ve already cracked the confidence so know you need to know how to stand. Try this…
a) Don’t stand face on to the camera. You’ll either look like you’re a criminal or you’re about to kick seven bells out of the photographer. So, take your face on stance (excuse the socks!)
and step back about a shoe length with your right leg. Turn your right foot out so it’s pointing North-West (and that’s not actual North-West, just north-West to your left foot which is facing North). Your body should now be angled about 45 degrees to the camera.
b) Lean just a little and put weight on your right leg, taking the weight off of the left foot.
c) Turn your upper body and head back to face the camera
d) Tilt your head just slightly towards the shoulder closest to the camera
e) Lift your chin. It may feel uncomfortable but it will hide those chins!
So what you have done there is go from this…
Turning your body naturally slims the torso. Lifting your head removes chins and makes you appear taller. Angling the head gives you that manly but hunky look. Easy, so far, innit?
- You Need Hands
Don’t know what to do with your hands? Now, I’m not one for shoving them in pockets but sometimes they do get in the way. One thing to remember here is to keep them relaxed. Those fingers aren’t claws, you know. Try these…
Hook your thumbs into your pockets.
Hook one thumb into a pocket and hold a jacket over your shoulder with the other.
Hang them by your sides with a really loose fist.
Gently hold one of your shirt buttons
Grab your jacket with both hands.
Fold your arms (not too tightly)
See how those go. I guarantee that your hands will look a lot more comfortable if you try some of those techniques.
- Achy Breaky Face
You know what it’s like. Your mate wants a photo but he’s a complete doofus when it comes to getting the settings right. “Hold on…. I. Just…….Gotta…. SET…..theFLASHthereyougo……hold on…..”. And so it goes on, all the while you’re pulling the best smile you’ve EVER pulled. Like, EVER, and I’m not even joking! But after two minutes of Jugsy juggling flash settings and zoom and whether he’s gonna do it landscape or portrait, your cheeks start to burn and you get that annoying twitch in the corner of your mouth. By the time Jugsy shouts “OK”, your smile resembles something trying to crawl out of the cellar in The Evil Dead. More of a war cry grimace than a warm smile.
Right then… how to overcome this one. Tell the photographer to warn you when he’s gonna take the photo. When he’s ready, ask him to count to three. While he counts to three, close your eyes. On three, open your eyes and gently smile whilst looking at the camera (or just above it for reduced red eye). Booom! You just relaxed yourself (see point 1) and cracked the sexiest smile that would melt Kylie Minogue’s heart! YEAH!
Another tip – instead of saying CHEEEEEEEESE, say YESSSSS. Saying CHEEEEEEEESE will give you a grin more akin to Wallace – you might as well shout “MORE CHEEEEEESE GROMMIT”; but you won’t look like you’re smiling. Saying YESSSS (imagine you’ve won the Sunday Meat Raffle) will give your mouth a more natural look. Go on… try it. Look in the mirror now and say YESSSS. I’ll wait……
Done it? So, when you got to the SSSS part of YESSSS, your mouth looked a little like it was smiling didn’t it? Great. Another tip cracked.
- Workin’ On A Tan
Finally… it’s a very easy tip this one. Most cameras are either camera phones or compact cameras. The flash will be very close to the lens and will mostly be shoved up your nose on a night out. Quick tip to look darker skinned than your mates – step back a little and let their faces get the full force of the flash. Them = white, overblown faces. You = darker skin tone. You don’t have to step too far back – half a step back, or even leaning back a little, should do it.
This is called flash fall off, an example of which is above. The hand further away is a little darker.
On a side note, another by-product of the flash being so close to the lens is red eye. This is caused by the flash bouncing off of your retina and straight back into the lens. SLR cameras with external flashes don’t suffer from this because firstly the distance between the flash and the lens is greater and secondly you can move an external flash around (see the picture below to get an idea of what’s happening)
If you’re faced with a compact camera then try to look slightly above or to the left or right of the camera. It should change the angle of the flash bouncing off your eye and reduce that Children of the Corn look. The other thing you can try is looking at a bright light before the photo is taken. This will constrict the iris, making the pupil smaller and allow less light into the eye. This is how red eye reduction works on a camera… It sends a pulse of flash before the picture is taken to decrease the pupil size.
So there you have it… how to make yourself look awesome (and your mates look rubbish) in a photo. Easy, eh?
Disclaimer: I really don’t claim to be that good at posing myself – I’m SOOOO much better behind the camera and helping others to pose. Also, these photos were taken at 01:00 in the morning!
Thanks Garry – amazing tips – be sure to check out his site for more examples of his work. What about you? Do you have a specialist skill that you could share to help the rest of the MVF members out? Give us a shout (email@example.com or @admin on the site) and we’ll put you to work!