Written by Liz Bower

Voices

How to look good in photographs

Cameras on phones means we now need to be photo ready 24/7. This is a massive ballache, obviously. Thank goodness Liz Bower is on hand to share a few tips on looking like you in a snap.

Ensure you always look tip-top in photos by channelling your inner superhero

Ensure you always look tip-top in photos by channelling your inner superhero

As someone who was told casually by a wedding photographer “I just can’t get a good angle on your face” (he didn’t get the job) I empathise with those who feel photogenically challenged. I was introduced to photos when no one wasted a 24-shot disposable camera on one family portrait, their own face, or a sandwich. There was a three-week wait to find out if any were good enough to be seen by all. “Good enough” meant everyone facing forward and “all” meant people who entered your home.

But now, the boundaries have shifted. “Good enough” is no longer good enough and “all” means the whole world.

A YouTube video called ‘How to look good in photos‘ begins with a model breezily suggesting, “Perhaps lose weight before the ‘say cheese’ moment.” I’d happily eat that cheese to test her theory that “on camera, one pound more will look three pounds heavier and one pound less will look three pounds slimmer”. ‘Vintage’ and ‘Metropolis’ are optional on Instagram, but the ‘Bullshit’ filter is pending.

So, if your palms are sweating, the rabbit in headlights is staring back at you from the mirror, and cheese, chocolate and other life-affirming foods remain in your diet, what can those of us who don’t see Kate Moss in our reflection do?

Access your inner superhero

Every year, around 20,000 actors face the decision of whether to fork out hundreds of pounds for a new headshot, or see if they can squeeze another year out of that suspiciously youthful portrait they had taken four years ago. I have yet to meet an actor who likes being photographed but what they can do, which is useful to all, is play a role. An awesome role: I’m talking She-Ra, Wonder Woman, even The Thing.

You won’t see your inner superhero in a mirror because:

  • A) your inner super hero is invisible (awesome choice)
  • B) you’re too busy asking the builders if Friday means Friday, how the courier could have missed you when you’ve been in all day waiting for them, or sternly explaining to your ace big sister that it’s your turn to treat her to dinner for letting you use that photo of her in fancy dress for your article, to notice how much your physicality alters when you’re using your alert, assertive telephone voice which makes your status rocket higher than Supergirl can fly.

So the next time a camera is in your face, remember that your inner superhero is there in your voice just waiting to be activated and feel that power coarse through your soul by the power of Greyskull. BOOM.

Find your word

Sex, cheese or prunes? Sex is infinitely more fun than cheese, right? I really want confirmation on that, or I’m doing cheese all wrong.

Say cheese! Actually... don't say "cheese". Vanessa Valentine Photography

Say cheese! Actually, don’t.

“Cheese” tends to get the fake smile we hate, all teeth and gums and dead eyes.

Try "sex". It works a treat.

Try “sex”. It works a treat.

“Sex” (just saying it!) or any other unexpected or slightly controversial word brings a bit of personality to a shot by making people laugh, tut, or perhaps blush adorably.

Saying “prunes” gives you the perfect Keira Knightley-esque pout, like you’re gently blowing bubbles in a fairyland grocery. Eating them brings a bit of personality to the shot with an unexpected or slightly controversial bowel movement.

 

Prunes? Too right, you absolute minx.

Prunes? Too right, you absolute minx.

The Mona Lisa – face of arguably the best portrait ever with the ‘headshot face’ all

Haunted by the ghosts of photos past.

Haunted by the ghosts of photos past.

actors strive for – was more likely to be thinking about eating a delicious gelato than any of the above.

So go off menu and find a word or thought that puts the sparkle in your eyes, or a rumble in your large intestine if you’re going for more of a haunted look. Eyes are way more interesting than teeth, unless you’re a dentist or a shark (they’re jealous of you because their eyes are always dead).

 

Relax

So, you’re having a magnificent time at a party with all your best mates, can things get any better? YES! You’ve just eaten the best Italian ice cream EVER! But suddenly someone wants a photo to commemorate the occasion. THWACK. Wait, comrade! Don’t tense up or frantically blurt out “SEX!” Take a breath, adjust your cape/mask/hammer and stand proud. Think about that ice cream, cool, smooth and utterly delicious, just like you.

Superheroes always look good in photos, not just because of their abs, lantern jaws and hourglass figues but because they are in control of the situation. Yes the builders DID mean Friday, the couriers will redeliver at a time to suit you and your sister would be proud to be taken for dinner by you – and of course you can use the superhero photo, as long as no one can see she was wearing hotpants. You’re a winner, baby. CLICK.

@ElizabethBower

Liz’s headshots courtesy of Vanessa Valentine Photography, Headshots London & Manchester: 07904 059541; www.vanessavalentinephotography.com[email protected]

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Written by Liz Bower

Elizabeth is an actress, character comic and narrator. She lives in London with her husband and enjoys kick boxing and painting, though never simultaneously. @ElizabethBower