How to look good on camera

If you’re spending money on professional photography or video, you of course want to ensure you’ll look your best on camera. Here are some common questions clients ask before their shoot, and my advice to them.

Q. What should I wear?

This depends largely on the purpose for your photographs, your body type, and your individual tastes. But here are some general guidelines, because your choice of clothing really does matter!

  • Dress on brand. That means, dress for your personality, but within the boundaries of expectation for your industry. Will people take you seriously if they expect conservative but get artsy? Watch out for clothing that can look ‘too sexy’ – spaghetti straps, sheer fabrics, short skirts, plunging necklines.
  • Dress for your body. You know what looks best on you, so don’t wear a suit jacket if you feel it hides your shape and makes you look like a cardboard box. Don’t wear a dress if you feel ridiculous in it and would never wear it otherwise! Working with an image consultant can go a long way to making you look a million dollars, because they can pinpoint the exact shapes, fabrics and colours that look great on you.
  • White and bright colours near your face will make you look younger, fresher and more successful. If you must wear black, break it up with a light shirt, bright tie or statement jewellery.
  • Ensure whatever you are wearing is of good quality, in good condition, clean and wrinkle-free.
  • If you’re unsure, bring a few outfit changes so your photographer can help you decide.

Q. Should I get my hair and make-up professionally done?

I advise my female clients to do so, because it makes a huge difference to photographs. However, this comes with a warning: either choose a stylist you are familiar with or make sure you clearly communicate what you want – and don’t leave the salon until you’ve got it – because the golden rule of looking good in front of the camera is: HATE YOUR HAIR/MAKE-UP = HATE YOUR IMAGES.

If you’re doing your hair and make-up yourself, ensure you have good coverage with a foundation that suits your skin, loose powder to eliminate shine (bring it with you!), and definition of eyes or lips. Stay away from high-gloss makeup, especially eye-shadow, and make sure rouge is well-blended. Hair should be in a style in keeping with your brand, profession, and personal taste.

Gents, don’t rush out and get a haircut right before your shoot – let it settle a few days at least – you don’t want a slick buzz cut in your photos (unless that’s your style!).

Q. How should I pose?

Hopefully your photographer will give you lots of direction so you don’t have to figure this out yourself! But some tips:

  • Sit or stand on a slight angle – not squarely front-on, not side-on. Ensure your shoulder isn’t the closest thing to the camera lens (unless you want it to look huge…)
  • To open up your eyes, photograph seated, looking up to the camera
  • Sit or stand tall, but try to relax your shoulders and adopt a natural resting pose e.g. leaning on a wall, or hand on a window sill or table
  • Smile… with teeth! Even if you don’t want to. This is the ‘real smile’ people want to see

Q. I always hate the way I look in photographs. Will this be different?

Working with a professional photographer or videographer who directs your poses, who takes time to make you feel relaxed and who works skilfully with lighting to maximise your good points and minimise your iffy ones 😉 will make a lot of difference to how you feel about your photos. And remember the rules: make clothing, hair and make-up choices that make you feel confident and true to yourself. With this powerful combination, you can’t go wrong!

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