How to Look Good in a Photograph

Michele Wanke
portrait of woman smiling

With social media sweeping the planet, throngs of people are desperate to learn how to look good in a photograph. From Facebook photos to Twitpics, you never know when your mug will be viewed by millions.

Tips for Learning How to Look Good in a Photograph

When was the last time you viewed a photo and didn't wish you looked slimmer, happier or more attractive? Most people don't know how to work the camera as well as a super model, but being photogenic isn't something reserved only for the Cindy Crawfords of the world. You too can learn how to look good in a photograph by following these simple tips:


If you consider the camera your nemesis, you will always be dissatisfied with your photos. Learning how to act natural in front of the camera is the first step to taking spectacular shots. Photogenic people typically are comfortable in front of the camera. Once you learn how to relax in front of the lens, smiling will come naturally. A relaxed smile starts by placing your tongue behind your teeth. Doing this will relax your face and reduce eye squinting. In full-length shots, remember to keep your arms slightly away from your body. If you tense up and keep them glued to your sides, the end result will be far from frame worthy.

Less Is More

This goes for just about everything during a photo shoot, including:

  • Clothing: The fewer number of conflicting garments the better. Generally, you should avoid wearing clothes with bold prints and busy patterns. When it comes to color, stick to two muted tones rather than trying to wear a rainbow of bright hues in a single shot.
  • Make-up: Go easy on the make-up. A little lip gloss, some mascara, a hint of concealer, and a touch of blush will go a long way.
  • Hair: Big hair will look even bigger in photos, especially if the shot is taken from a side angle. When in doubt, keep hair slicked back to expose as much of your face as possible. Channeling your inner Cousin Itt is never a good thing during a photo shoot.

Accentuate the Positive

The most photogenic models in the world know their "good side" and their "bad side." Contrary to popular belief, models are not the only ones who can identify their best side. By studying your face in the mirror from a variety of angles, you can discover what side looks better. Once you do, remember to angle yourself in a photo so that your best side is more prominent. By accentuating your most attractive features, you can hide the parts you consider flawed.

The Right Light

Knowing how to manipulate light sources will help you look good in a photograph. Professional photographers should place you in the best light possible. If you are shooting with a friend, then consider the following:

  • Indoor: Avoid using flash. Rather, flood your indoor space with as much natural light as possible. Open windows and doors and try to stand close to the light source. If the indoor light is too harsh, use a soft filter to soften your facial features.
  • Outdoor: When shooting outdoors, avoid the mid-day sun. Direct sunlight can cause you to squint and it can wash out your facial features. In addition, it can also cast unflattering shadows on your face and body.

Don't Fake It

Fake smiles look awful in photographs, while genuine smiles light up portraits. You can lighten the mood of your photo shoot by having someone you are comfortable with stand near the photographer to help you loosen up. Once you stop feeling self-conscious, your entire body will react accordingly. Fake poses tend to shrink the body. To look your best in a shot, exercise good posture; pull your shoulders back, bring your chest up, pull your belly toward your spine and move your head forward a bit to avoid a double chin.

Study and Learn

Finally, one of the best ways to learn how to look good in a photograph is to study the best of the best. Examine photos of professional models or everyday photogenic people and take notes on how they pose for the camera. You'll probably see that they are actually having a good time in front of the camera. That joy translates into pretty pictures.

How to Look Good in a Photograph