How to Look Your Best in Photos This Year | Posing Tips & Tricks

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

Whenever I pose for a photo with people, the funniest thing happens. They panic and start asking me for tips on posing as if I’m some sort of expert! ???? I’m certainly no expert, but I have learned lots of posing tips and tricks in the past four years of shooting photos ???? for Empty Nest Blessed! I’ve asked my photographer a lot of questions, studied other bloggers’ photos, and read several articles on posing. Bottom line: it looks easier than it is!

First of all, let me say that I don’t know anyone who truly enjoys posing for photos! Taking pictures for Empty Nest Blessed feels pretty awkward and actually makes me really self-conscious! Mostly, I just try to forget myself and think about what I’m trying to communicate with the photo or I think about the subject of the blog post I’m going to write to go along with the photos.

Whether you’re trying to score the perfect holiday family photo or some sweet candid snaps (like the impromptu family ones in this post), it’s inevitable that lots of photos will be taken and viewed in the next few weeks! Today, I’m sharing all of my posing tips and tricks with you. We’re going to have you looking fabulous, dah-ling. ????

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

1. Chase the Light

Lighting is the number one secret to taking flattering photos. It’s everything, and it’s definitely the main mistake most people make. Ideally, you want soft, diffused light, and you want the light coming in on your face. I see a lot of people make this mistake at sports games! Most people want to snap photos with the field in the background (understandable!), but what they don’t realize is that the field is where the light is! Then they wonder why their faces look dark, but the field behind them looks fabulous! Remember—what you see in the camera is what you’ll get in the photo—so your number one priority should be good lighting on your face!

I’ve given you a pretty extreme example of this in the two photos above. In the top photo, I have my back to the window. The lighting is fine on my face, but to make it that way, my photographer had to lighten it up when she edited, which blew out the background and distorted the colors in my chairs and ottoman. In the second photo above, I flipped around, and the lighting from the same window is coming in on my face. See the difference?

Alternatively, you can try a selfie ring light that clips right onto your phone. I always carry one in case I stumble upon a good photo opp with bad lighting! (Makes a great gift too, BTW!)

 

Remember that diffused natural light is best, so if you’re indoors, position yourself with the light from a window in front of you instead of with the window in the background. If you’re outside on a bright, sunny day, head under a tree or to a covered area for more complexion-friendly (read that: wrinkle-disguising!) diffused light. For the best lighting, take photos in the early morning or at dusk. (We usually start my outdoor photo shoots at 8 a.m.!)

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

2. Angles Matter

To look taller, have the photographer shoot upward. If the photographer shoots downward, you’ll look shorter, but slimmer. Also, remember to create angles with your body. Nobody looks good in photos when they’re standing straight like a soldier! Creating angles defines your waistline, and adds interest to your pictures. In the photo above, I not only created angles with my body, but also with my outfit. By pushing my sleeves up and doing a half-tuck, I’m adding interest and drawing attention to the unique texture of the sweater. (For instructions on how to do the half-tuck, along with other style tips & tricks, click HERE.)

couple in holiday party attire standing in front of a christmas tree

Red Cashmere Cardigan (available in 20 colors and 80% off with code MERRY) | Navy Blue Sleeveless Velvet Shell (21% off with code DASHER) | Holiday Plaid Ankle Pants (23% off with code DASHER) | Comfortable Navy Suede Pumps (68% off with code HOLIDAY30) | Red Drop Earrings | Navy Clutch (not pictured but 50% off right now)

3. Perfect Your Posing Technique

Check out the holiday photo above that I took with Bob two weeks ago when we were at his company holiday party.

Here’s how to strike the perfect pose:

1. Stand up straight with your shoulders down, chin low, and neck elongated and thrust slightly forward. (This minimizes a double chin or the loose skin you may have on your neck.)

2. To look slimmer, angle your body about a quarter turn from the camera and tighten your core muscles.

3. Place one foot slightly in front of the other with a bent knee, keeping your weight on your straight leg. Bevel your bent knee slightly toward your other knee. To define your shape, create space at the waist with your hand in a pocket or by slightly bending your elbow with your hand at your side. (Note: The hand-on-the-hip thing is pretty much dead. It looks a little too contrived!)

To see an example of these posing techniques in a casual photo, click here. (Yes, I even taught my husband and daughter these techniques! ????) Don’t be afraid to practice in the mirror until these things become second nature. I practice before every single photoshoot.

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

4. Get Handsy

Our hands are an extension of our bodies, yet whenever we get in front of a camera, they tend to feel like awkward appendages! Think ahead about hand placement. Try putting one hand in a front or back pocket as I did in the photo below, or even gracefully at your side. Keep your fingers together and your hands soft. One thing I do in my blogger photos is to play with an interesting aspect of my outfit, accessory, or even my hair. In the photo above, I wanted to emphasize how cozy this sweater is, so I stuck my hands inside the sleeves and crossed my arms like I was hugging myself. (Which is legit how this sweater makes me feel! ????) If your hands are going to be in a photo, make sure to moisturize them beforehand! (THIS is the hand lotion I’m loving right now.)

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

5. Smile

Relax your face, neck, and shoulders, and smile. It’s an instant facelift! Aim for a sweet, relaxed, and happy smile—neither too big (which makes crows feet more visible), nor too small (which looks like you’re bored). Always show your teeth. (Covering your teeth with tight lips makes you look creepy. ????) If you’re embarrassed about the color of your teeth, use Crest Whitestrips or consider getting Zoom Whitening, as I did.???? Whitening your teeth is an easy, affordable, and quick thing anyone can do to look younger!

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

6. The Eyes Have It

If you slightly squint your eyes, your entire face will look more relaxed. Concentrate on filling your eyes with joy to make them sparkle. I try to think about how much I love the person/people I’m posing with!

These poor quality photos were from Thanksgiving a year ago! (This year, I spent Thanksgiving with my parents in Florida, and I upgraded my phone & camera! ????)

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Why yes, I HAVE taught my girls how to pose!

Black Tunic Dress | Spanx Faux Leather Leggings | Black Ruffle-Back Booties | Tory Burch Black Logo Earrings

 

7. Group Dynamics

When you’re taking a photo in a group, try to stand on the end, so that you can use the techniques you just learned. The absolute worst position to be in is in the middle of a line of people. This is especially true if everyone has their arms around each other, facing straight toward the camera. It’s not flattering to anyone! If you do get stuck in the middle of the group, be sure to angle your body to the side and use the techniques I just described.

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Now that everyone in our family knows the best place is on the end, we always fight for that spot! I won this time!!! ????????‍♀️???????????? Notice how I bent my elbow slightly to define my waist.

 

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In this photo, I even put my hand in my pocket to create more of a waistline.

Black Tunic Dress | Spanx Faux Leather Leggings | Black Ruffle-Back Booties | Tory Burch Black Logo Earrings

8. Prepare Your Skin & Face

For the most flattering photos, use a slightly shimmery (not sparkly) lotion beforehand to give the skin on your body a glowy and toned look. If you’re going to be showing your legs and you feel self-conscious about discoloration or veins, consider a body makeup like the one I use for all of my photo shoots.

Today, I’m sharing my everyday makeup faves with you.

1. For your face, start with a moisturizing primer that will plump up and smoothe your skin.

2. My makeup artist got me started with this CC + cream foundation, and I bought it for myself. It has natural broad-spectrum 50 SPF from zinc & titanium dioxide and gives full coverage. It’s a beauty blogger fave! It’s easy to buy online because the descriptions of the colors are so accurate, taking into consideration your skin’s undertones.

3. Use eyeliner pencil at the base of your upper lashes to make your lashes look fuller and smudge it with an eyeliner brush meant just for smudging. (That’s the one I use). For eyeshadow, I’ve been using this eyeshadow primer as my everyday go-to. Since it’s a primer, it covers any discoloration. If I want more eyeshadow, I use these super-blendable, no-tug sticks. (They have built-in sharpeners!)

4. Add more blush than you typically wear. I’ve used all different brands, but I think the pigments in Chanel blushes glide on the best and last the longest.

5. Spray on a Dewy Finishing Spray to set your makeup and give your skin a dewy, moisturized look. Do it before you apply mascara to avoid smudges! ????

6. Add an extra coat of mascara. (I am super picky about mascara, and THIS is my favorite brand.

7. Finally, finish off your face by swiping a creamy sculpting highlighter along the top of your cheekbones, at the inner corner of your eyes, and your browbone. It will lift your whole face! Swipe contour just below your cheekbones to boost your entire face. Also, if you want to diminish the look of a double chin, blend the sculpting contour just under your jawline.

8. For lips, consider a bolder color than you might normally wear. (See my post on finding your perfect red lipstick for more guidance on this!) Right now, I love the long-wearing coverage of Cover Girl Outlast Lip Color. After researching and writing my red lipstick post and realizing that I needed to be wearing a more orangey-red, I just bought two new colors from their Custom Reds holiday line.

For more on my everyday makeup, check out the post I wrote about what I learned when I took a professional makeup lesson.

 

woman in pink fuzzy sweater and jeans posing in her bedroom

Pink Fuzzy Pullover Sweater | NYDJ Jeans | Snake Print Booties | Sparkly Belt (similar HERE and HERE) | Earrings

 

I adore this fuzzy pink sweater from Target! (‘Memba when I hired a personal stylist to create nine wintery looks for me from Target?! ????) It’s big and loose, but I did a front tuck (I gave you instructions for creating the front tuck in THIS post.) to give it a little more shape. Also, I wanted you to be able to see my fun glitter belt! It’s sold out, but I’ve linked a similar one HERE (50% off right now) and HERE for you to check out if you’re interested. Finally, I added these snake print booties that I can’t seem to get enough of this year! I literally plan entire outfits around them! ???? They are so comfortable and easy to walk in because they have a block heel. ????

I hope this post has helped you feel more confident about posing for your family photos this year! I would love to see your holiday photos! Please tag @emptynestblessed on your Instagram or Facebook photos, or email one to me at [email protected]

Blessings,

 

 

 

Photos by Megan Weaver. (Except for family photos!)

P.S. Want to save these tips so you can refer to them later? I’ve pinned them on the Empty Nest Blessed Pinterest page, so you can easily save them to one of your boards! You can also share it to social media, email it to someone, or even print it using the icons below. xoxo

 

Suzy Mighell

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12 Comments

    1. Cathy,
      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it! I think you’re a great poser! (It’s harder than it looks, right?) Hugs to you, and thanks for your comment! xoxo Suzy

  1. Hi Suzy,

    I love these tips! And they come not a moment too soon, as I’ll be in lots of photos next month when our oldest son gets married. I don’t love having my picture taken, but what’s worse than having it taken is looking at the resulting photo and seeing my discomfort coming through loud and clear … awkward! I think I’ll take your advice to heart and actually rehearse the tips you’ve given.

    Thank you, Suzy!
    Lauren

    1. Lauren, Congratulations! I’m so happy for you and your family! Yay! I’m so glad you think these will help. My best advice would be to practice in front of the mirror as much as you can before the wedding so you don’t have to think about it too much when the photos are actually being taken. You should just enjoy yourself that day and let your joy reflect on your sweet face! Thank you so much for sharing and for your comment. xoxo Suzy

  2. Just texted the link to all my BFFs – such helpful info! When we take a group pic, it’s hilarious because everyone argues about where to stand, etc. Merry Christmas to Empty Nest Blessed!

    1. Shannon,
      Thank you! We do the same thing! Hahahaha! Merry Christmas to you and yours too! xoxo Suzy

  3. Hi Suzy,

    These tips are excellent. i’m not photogenic so I need all the help I can get. I still haven’t perfected the perfect pose, but working on it. That’s why I love this post. Sooooooo helpful!
    <3 <3 <3
    Nancy

    1. Nancy,
      I hear you! It’s tough! It always feels silly to practice in the mirror, but it really does help! Once you’re all dressed for the event or get-together, take a sec to practice in your full-length mirror. When it comes time for the photo, you’ll be all ready! Let your beauty shine through, Nancy! Thanks so much for your comment! xoxo Suzy

    1. Julie, You are so welcome! Honestly, I think everyone feels awkward in pictures, so you’re not alone! I’m so thankful this was helpful to you! xoxo Suzy

  4. Hey.
    Such great information.
    I’m usually the shortest so on the end often, but I’ve never thought how strategic that could be. Hmm…
    Thank you.
    Also…Beautiful family!

    1. Elaine,
      Thank you for your sweet comment! I honestly never thought about the fact that the shortest person usually gets relegated to the end!!! Wow! That’s great for you! Now you know that it is the ABSOLUTE most flattering place to stand and you are going to be the most stunning one in the photo! YAYAYAYAY!!! Happy New Year and thank you so much for reading and leaving me a comment! xoxo Suzy

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