How to look good in photos
While taking a good photo seems like it should be as easy as “one…two…cheese!,” we know there’s more to taking a fantastic photo than meets the eye. 📸 We’ve created a guide to help you feel confident in front of the camera and make that pesky self-doubt when you hear the camera clicks disappear. Read on for how to highlight your best features, showcase your personality and find beautiful natural light for your best photos yet! Oh, and why you should stop saying “cheese” — find out below. 😉🧀
Photo: Kelly in Singapore for Flytographer. Brad and Garrett capture memories in Singapore on a couple photoshoot.
Best poses for good photos
With posing, it’s usually the most subtle changes that make the biggest impact in photos. You don’t need a highly-specific breakdown of how to position every body part down to the millimetre — just use these guidelines mixed with a bit of practice and confidence! ✨ (Seriously, set down your phone, point at yourself in a mirror, and say “I’m a badass” before you dive in. We’ll wait 😎)
1. Strike a pose
Posing is all about creating angles. For example, instead of having your hands straight down at your sides, think about creating a triangle with your arm. Rest your hand on your hip, run your fingers through your hair, play with your jewellery, or even pretend to wash your hands in slow-motion (tip: this is one of our favourite prompts for boys!). This also helps with the “what do I do with my hands?” dilemma. 🙌
If you’re taking an up-close portrait, make your jawline pop by turning one shoulder a bit more towards the camera and slightly raise your chin. This brings an air of poise and dimension to your photos and allows you to emphasize one side of your face, if you have a best side.
Photo: Madison in Jackson Hole for Flytographer. Lucinda and their family capture memories in Jackson Hole with a family trip.
2. Make a move
Striking a pose doesn’t mean standing stiff and still — we’re human and we’re made to move! Moving around in front of the camera has many benefits: it can help reduce any anxiety you might have by distracting you, and it will also offer you more photo options. You’ll get 10 different photos if you’re moving around versus 10 of the same photo if you’re standing still!
Ideas for movement include:
- Laughing. Fake laughter often turns into real laughter, and real laughter is our favourite way to see your smile!
- Walking. 🎶 “Put one foot in front of the other…” 🎶 Other options include running, dancing and jumping! Look at each other if you’re a couple or group, or out into the distance if you’re solo.
- Couples. Bring all of the “honeymoon phase” vibes to your shoot, even if you’ve been together for years. Holding hands, kisses all over each other’s faces, and cuddles will bring genuine connection and fun to your shoot. If you’re not into PDA, plenty of eye contact will still bring that important feeling of connection into your photos.
- Families. Hug someone you love, look at each other, and have fun playing games. Imagine having an entire family that gets excited when the camera comes out… it’s not just a dream!
- Solo. Flying solo? Use what’s around you to interact with. Sitting down, leaning on a wall or tree, using a prop and interacting with the person behind the camera can bring connection into your photos.
Photo: Bayu in Bali for Flytographer. Jessica and their partner celebrate their trip to Bali with a couple photoshoot.
3. Mix it up with different angles
Even if you have just a handful of go-to poses, mixing it up with different camera angles will give you even more variety.
- Shoot from just above eye-level for flattering angles. It’s why everyone you see taking a selfie is holding their phone up above their face rather than straight-on. This will make your eyes pop, and bonus, show off more of your destination when travelling!
- Shoot from below and lift your chin for a unique angle. This angle can give the effect of extra long legs, but it can be less flattering to look down at the camera. This is the perfect opportunity to practice “plandid” (aka planning out your “candid” shots) by looking up and out at the horizon and pretending the photographer isn’t there.
Photo: Mary and Maurizio in Positano for Flytographer. Jennifer and their partner celebrate their anniversary in Positano with a couple photoshoot.
View our style guide for outfit ideas!
4. The photographer should move too
Changing up the distance between the photographer and the subject is our favourite way to easily capture a ton of different options. Try to take a close-up, medium and wide shot, so even if you use the same pose, you’ll have three completely different photos.
- Start with an up-close portrait with the focus on the eyes. This is also a great time to use the portrait mode on your iphone!
- The further your photographer moves back, the more sense of place you’ll have in your photos.
- Finally, an even wider shot will beautifully show off your destination. Instead of just a landscape shot, you can include yourself in your memory!
5. Keep it light
Above all, remember that capturing memories should be fun! We’ve got more photo shoot tips straight from our photographers to look and feel great on camera on our blog.
Photo: Flytographer in San Diego. Kimberly and their partner celebrate their anniversary with a couple photoshoot on the beach in San Diego.
Outfit and hairstyle ideas
Flyaways and frizz, lipstick stains and a dreaded Marilyn Monroe moment might be a few of the outfit-malfunction fears you have when getting camera ready. Here are some of our top tips for what to have on-hand. (Hint: it’s not a lot! We recommend bringing as little as possible to a shoot.)
- Wear what you feel best in! You likely have the perfect outfit in your closet already, so don’t feel like you need to stress about buying a new outfit. However, we love an excuse to go shopping too 😉 We recommend keeping your outfits simple so you can shine.
- Dress for your destination. Take the weather and location into account when getting ready, so you’re comfortable as well as cute! In a beachy destination, bring along a hair tie or clip for breezy conditions, and if you’re in a humid destination, hairspray or pomade will be your best friend. Layer up for colder destinations, and opt for light colours that will hide any sweat stains if you’re feeling the heat.
- What’s the occasion? If you’re opting for a formal look, dark lipstick and an updo are a classic combination, but if you’re usually more casual, stay true to you! A swipe of mascara and eyeliner to make your eyes pop is just as great as a full-face of makeup. If you’re taking headshots, consider bringing along a small mirror for touchups.
- Bring just the essentials. Toting around your full makeup and hair set can be more stress than it’s worth, and if you’re in the city, it can be difficult to find a place to set down your bags safely. A few essentials we love are a small brush, lip gloss, and powder if it’s a hot day.
Photo: Eliška in Prague for Flytographer. Tianna captures memories in Prague with a Modern Headshot photoshoot.
How to act naturally in front of a camera
We firmly believe that being photogenic isn’t an inherent trait that you either have or don’t have. Practice makes perfect, but know that even professional photographers get nervous in front of the camera. While having photos might never feel 100% natural, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to make it look that way on camera.
- Stop saying “cheese.” Yes, it’s what your parents said growing up every time they wanted a photo, but saying that long “e” sound can make your smile look more like a grimace, especially with the kids. Our trick? Try fake laughing. It feels a little silly, but it will often turn into real laugher and bring that authentic sparkle to your eyes.
- Our Flytographers don’t expect you to show up looking like a professional model, so don’t put the pressure on yourself to look that way either. Embrace your “flaws” because they’re what make you human, relatable and unique!
- Practice in front of a mirror. Seriously! Practice your smile and your poses. You can even set up the self-timer on your phone to see what poses or outfits you like the best.
Our Flytographers are experts at helping you feel comfortable and confident during your shoot, so you’re not alone! Read some of our photographers’ top tips on this blog.
Photo: Marie in Maui for Flytographer. Charleen and their family celebrate their trip to Maui with a family photoshoot.
How to find natural light
Good lighting is the foundation for a great photo! We love natural light, so sunshine is an essential light source (plus, a great source of vitamin D 🌞). Here are some tips for using natural light in photos:
- Golden hour. The hour just after sunrise and just before sunset are when the sun sits low on the horizon, creating a beautiful golden glow. This is always when we recommend doing a Flytographer shoot because our professional photographers love this type of light so much. Tip: explore the city at sunrise to have your destination to yourself.
- Soft light. This type of flattering, indirect light is when the sun isn’t shining directly on you — direct sun creates harsh, unflattering shadows. Aim to keep the sun behind you and just out of frame, especially in the middle of the day. You might be surprised to find that photographers often like shooting on cloudy days as well, because everything is soft light when the sun is hidden!
Interested in learning more about natural light, especially when taking photos on your iPhone? Read these 5 iPhone photography tips for using natural light.
Photo: Flytographer in Paris. Jazmyn and their partner capture memories in Paris with a couple photoshoot.
Capture your best foot forward
Above all, remember that taking photos should be enjoyable! You might not be inspired to change your career and become a professional photographer or model after reading this, but we hope you feel excited knowing you have the knowledge and skills to look great in front of the camera already. If you think there’s a Flytographer shoot in your future (and we sure hope there is to capture and celebrate your story!), read tips directly from our Flytographers around the world on how to prepare for a photoshoot!