One of the biggest reasons women hate to see pictures of ourselves is because what we see in the picture is not what we see in the mirror, or what we imagine ourselves to look like. We have a forgiving filter our minds use when we look in the mirror, or else we would never leave the bathroom. In photographs, we always seems to notice our imperfections more, like the little lines around our eyes, or those few stray hairs. When we look at pictures of loved ones, we only see the good. “Ooh, isn’t Baby Mary’s drool so cute!” When we look at pictures of ourselves, we only see the bad. I have never heard a woman say, “Ooh, my extra roll of flub is so attractive in this photo!”
There are things we can do to improve the chances of liking our photograph. Ladies, be aware of these no-no’s:
1. Don’t think that “natural” is better. ALL women should wear makeup in photographs. Especially in a studio setting, there will be more lighting than usual, so you want to enhance your features so they stand out! At minimum, wear lip color and use mascara to enhance your eyes. Everyone says, “I don’t wear makeup in real life.” Well, a picture is not real life. It lasts forever.
2. Don’t wear horizontal stripes. Solid colors are always better for photos, and darker colors are more slimming. Stripes just emphasize your widest parts. If you are teeny tiny, wear anything you darn well please. But if you are worried about looking a little bigger, then go with darker clothing. Which leads me to the next point:
3. Unless you have stick arms, don’t go sleeveless. Always wear sleeves, at least midway to the elbow. Also, don’t press your arms to your body, but hold them away a bit so that the fleshy part of your arm doesn’t spread out. The goal of any photograph is for the viewer’s eye to go straight to the face. If there is a beefy arm competing with the face, guess where the eye goes first?
4. Never stand straight-on to the camera. Always try to turn your shoulders about 45 degrees. There is a saying in photography: if it bends, bend it. If at all possible, lean forward slightly at the waist and raise your chin to reduce the chance of a double chin. Not saying you have one! But this trick works. My sisters and I have been doing this for years, after we fight about who has to be in front.
In our portrait studio, we cater to women’s needs. After all these tips produce a great raw image, then we go in and retouch the heck out of women. Kids and men, so so, but women want the works, so we use Photoshop magic (Botox in a Box). We reduce wrinkles, smooth skin, whiten teeth, remove stray hairs, etc, etc. Anyone can take a picture of you the way you really look. Who wants that? We want a picture to reflect the way we think we look: perfect!
Susan Stott-Smith owns Captured Moments Photography,
1402 King St
Beaufort SC 29902