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By Lyle Buss

Tuesday, July 24, 2012.

Being tagged in photos is an everyday occurrence lately. You can barely go out for an evening without somebody shoving a camera in your face while yelling 'SMILE'. And before your eyes have time to refocus from the blinding flash, that startled unflattering pic of you is shared on the World Wide Web for all to see.

Over the years I have discovered that being 'photogenic' is a myth. This word suggests that some people are born looking good in pictures, while others (no matter how stunning/hunky) are destined to look like trolls. Not true. Being photogenic is a learned skill, one which anyone can pick up and use when that camera makes its regular appearance. Here's how it's done...


Focus on your posture

Not only is a good posture relevant for photos, but everyday good posture makes you appear more confident and fights backache. A good posture can dramatically improve your appearance in pictures. Sitting or standing up straight with your shoulders back will make you look healthier and more alert and, if in a group setting, more attractive than your slouching companions.


Strike a pose

Your stance and pose has a huge impact on the way you look in photos. Shake it loose, roll your shoulders and, most importantly, exude confidence. They're going to take the pic whether you want it or not, so rise to the occasion and strut your stuff.


Positioning your body: Never stand facing the camera head-on. This tends to look very flat and 'blocky'. Rather stand with your feet and hips at a right-angle (side-on) to the camera and twist your shoulders slightly towards the camera (45 degrees). This way your bum and thighs will appear thinner, allowing for that hourglass (women) or T-shape (men) figure. Have the foot further from the camera at a right-angle, while the other pointed towards the camera. Simply by shifting your weight to the back leg can make you look a lot more natural and slimmer. Fall into those hips and show some swagger!


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Positioning your head: While in this pose, turn your head towards the camera, but never force these poses; it needs to look natural, and a painful grimace after twisting your back out of joint won't help the pic. Whatever position you're in, avoid having your body and head facing the same direction. A slight turn or tilt of the head does wonders. The position of your head can also relay different messages: Your head slightly down with chin tucked in can suggest that you're 'sweet' 'demure' or 'shy' (not suggested for men), while your head back and chin out can say you’re 'brave' and 'confident'. Usually a safe bet is to simply turn your head slightly away from the direction your body is facing, or tilt your head towards one shoulder (better for women).


Positioning your hands and arms: This is pretty much up to you. Although, let's avoid 'peace' signs and 'bunny ears' behind your best friend's head. A good idea is to simply have your hands on your hips or one hand on hip and the other hanging straight down relaxed. You may feel more comfortable with your arms crossed or one hand in your jeans pocket and the other hanging straight down and relaxed. Definitely don't have your hands in the 'fig leaf' position or touching your face in any way (cheesy deluxe).


To smile or not to smile?

Smile. Or don't smile. Forced smiles are going to look terribly fake, but real ones are priceless. If you can think of something amusing that makes you laugh, go for it. Otherwise a natural, relaxed face also works well. Just make sure you do not frown or scowl, and whatever you do, please don't suck in your cheeks and do the 'Zoolander'. And just bear this in mind: We are our own worst critics. Ninety-nine percent of the time we see flaws within ourselves that simply do not exist. So many people are self-conscious about their 'crooked' teeth or 'gummy smile'. The worst genuine smile is a hundred times better than a self-conscious close-lipped one. Every time.


Camera position

It happens so often that your amateur photographer will go down on their haunches at take a shot of you from a low angle. Mistake! Low-angle shots tend to emphasise your double chin – even if you don't have one. From this angle one tends to look bottom-heavy, with hips and thighs looking much bigger than they really are. Even though this angle can relay a message of 'confidence' and 'success', it can distort your appearance and is often extremely unflattering, especially for woman (guys tend not to mind to be made to look bigger). It is much better to have the camera at your eye-line or taken from a slightly higher angle. High-angle shots will give you a nicely defined chin and slimmer hips, as the whole body tapers from top to bottom. Just be sure you're not showing any excess cleavage girls, unless that's what you’re going for, of course.

Use these tips when next you find yourself in front of the camera and you'll see the difference it makes. Although it's worth mentioning that these are merely guidelines to follow; you'll find that the most iconic photos are of people caught up in the moment, so go with the flow and be your silly self if the moment allows for it.

Say CHEESE!

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