When I first started blogging, I was hell-bent on not showing my face. “Nobody wants to see my face…the people want the scenic shots!” was my battle cry when I decided to edit and release my work. Not only did I find this was simply not true, but it just wasn’t as fun. Always ducking from the camera, and having no mementos showing that I did, in fact, eat a tripe taco in la Merced in Mexico City sucked. Once I realized that pictures with me in them were actually more interesting than I originally thought, and were enjoyed by more than just my mother, I had to get over the hurdle of not looking awkward and too cheesy in photos. Having taken my fair share of unflattering pictures (no amount of money will get me to release them, sorry…), I have come up with a few rules to taking effortlessly cool pictures that don’t suck.
1. Find your angles. Mine happens to be a ¾ profile shot, bonus points if I can be looking back over my shoulder. Straight on for me looks odd, cheesy, and pretty unflattering, but some people look great straight on. This also holds true for body positioning. Straight on from behind makes me look wide, but the slightest turn helps flatter my figure, and not take up so much space in the photo. Practice in front of a mirror to find what your best angle is…that’s how I found mine! I have spent Friday nights posing in front of my full-length mirror before beach trips to find my best angle in a bikini, and have saved myself some embarrassing photo shoots. While this may sound nerdy and awkward, it actually really helps me to know a few go-to angles and positions for shots that need to be taken at a moment’s notice. Let’s get real, other tourists will not be too thrilled waiting their turn to grab a photo while watching you take 50 pictures in front of a London telephone booth because you want to try “one more time”. I know my winning angles, and can grab a shot, and move on pretty quickly at this point.
2. Stop posing. Ladies, the “skinny arm” pose that was popularized on college campuses 10 years ago is no longer cute, nor does it make for great pictures. It looks awkward, and does not look natural in the slightest. If you are worried about your arms, opt for something more fun, more natural, say throwing your arms in the air like you’re dancing. Swing in a circle really fast letting your arms swing out. My personal favorite non-pose pose, is taking a skip, and looking back over my shoulder with my mouth agape. Instant cool girl factor. And everybody is so focused on my coolness, they don’t even notice my arms.
3. Don’t look at the camera. Contrary to what every mother ever has ever said ever, pictures just LOOK cooler when you seem lost in the moment. We all have those pictures of ourselves with our family and friends standing in front of some obscure object with a big ol’ cheesy grin aimed right at the camera. Those are great and serve a wonderful purpose (to hang on the wall in our home and to strategically place on our office desks to make our bosses think they hired an incredibly normal person), but they do nothing for your social media feed. Next time you are somewhere cool, allow yourself to get lost in the moment. Look off into the distance. Forget the camera is there. THAT is how you get super cool girl/guy status pictures.
4. Funny story time. I was once walking past a photography booth when the person behind the table said, “Oh my gosh! It’s you!” I did my best to reassure her that I am not who she thinks I am. I’m no celeb, and my account certainly hasn’t gone viral…yet. She then pulled out photography brochures that had my senior year high school pictures splattered all over them. I was also informed I have one of the biggest featured frames in their office. As I looked at the pictures, I noticed something about myself. I looked truly happy. There were crinkles around my eyes, my smile showed all my teeth, and I looked relaxed. That’s what made this picture so great. I looked truly happy. So, whatever look you are going for, happy, pensive, angry, surprised, really go for it. We can tell when you aren’t actually thinking about much of anything, no matter what kind of fake glasses frames you put on 10 seconds before the snap.
Listen, I’m no Tyra Banks over here. The smize still confuses the hell outta me, and I am convinced it makes me look sick to my stomach. What I do know is how to avoid super awkward pictures that you will end up hating and not wanting to show off. Feel free to take my advice, or you can leave it there on the table. I’ll turn and walk away, with a quick glance over my shoulder, and get a great shot out of it.