Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photo Tip: Looking Your Best (and Thinnest) in Portraits {Dallas, TX Photographer}{Photography Tips}{Me Ra Koh}

I've heard it way too often: "Oh, we just want pictures of the children this time around. We aren't planning on being in the pictures ourselves."

You and I both know what that means. It means mom and dad are a little insecure about how they look in pictures. What they are really thinking, is: "Maybe we'll do a family portrait next year after we've both lost a few pounds."

If these thoughts have crossed your mind, you are not alone. I know I've had them! Far too many adults are camera shy. It seems everyone is hiding from the camera these days - not wanting anyone to catch a glimpse of those last few stubborn pounds they can't seem to lose. And, if we have to be in pictures, we finagle our way to the back of the crowd or camouflage our mid-sections, hips, and thighs with our toddlers or grandchildren on our laps and around our hips.

Sound familiar?

I'm here to share some very good news. There is hope! You don't have to dread those family pictures any longer. With a few tricks, you can look pounds slimmer in your photographs. And you can do it without busting your butt for months in the gym - although a little of that might not be a bad idea.

Here are a few tips for Looking Your Best in Portraits - tips that will make you appear pounds thinner and years younger (Truly!):

1. Shoot from above - not from down low.

Today's model illustrates this point well. (See, there are willing subjects who love being in front of the camera after all!)

In the first image on the left, I shot from a low perspective while crouching down and aiming the camera up toward my model's face. This angle serves to visually expand and widen everything in the image. Which is a cool perspective for some abstract subjects, but usually not for human beings (especially of the female variety).

Our model's chin appears wider, her face rounder, her midsection thicker, and her boobs...well you can see for yourself. Granted, some people may actually prefer this "alternative" to breast enlargement surgery, but I think most of us would cringe at the other enhancements that come along with this lower perspective package deal.

In stark contrast, our model look years younger and slimmer in the second image on the right. Simply by shooting from a higher perspective (I stood on a nearby fire hydrant.) and aiming the camera down on the subject, I was able to create a much narrower perspective resulting in a much more streamlined version of our subject.

Here she looks as if she's lost at least 10 pounds - if not more. Her waist appears tiny, her chest perky (and under control), and her face and chin much more youthful and firm. Who doesn't want that?

I took these pictures a couple years ago with this exact post in mind. They've been sitting on my desktop for quite some time now. I'm not exactly sure why I've waited this long to share this wealth of information with all of you.

Well, earlier this week I was tuned in to the Nate Berkus show to watch an episode featuring one of my favorite photographers, Me Ra Koh (a professional photographer and speaker from the west coast). What did she talk about? Posing tips for looking slimmer in photographs. Of course, it immediately reminded me of these pictures and this post I've been storing away, so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon - and plug her spot on Nate's show while I was at it.

If you missed her episode. You can watch it HERE.

In summary, this is what Me Ra Koh had to say. Below are her tips for looking thinner in photographs:

1. When sitting in a chair, scoot your bootie to the edge of the seat and lean slightly forward. This naturally elongates the neck and improves posture resulting in a slimmer-looking you.

I'll add that it helps to keep your legs and feet together and avoid crossing your legs at the knees. Rotate your hips, legs, and feet to a 45 degree angle away from the camera to further add to the slimming affects.

2. When standing for a portrait turn your body and angle it toward the camera.

If you watch Me Ra's episode on the Nate Berkus show, she has her two models turn a full 90 degrees toward the camera - so that their shoulders are straight on toward the lens.

This looked a bit extreme to me. I would start at a 45 degree angle and go from there.

3. Also while standing, she suggested that you put your weight on your front foot and once again lean toward the camera. Me Ra Koh referred to this as "engaging".

I would add a slight bend in the knee of the back leg to avoid looking too stiff.

4. Me Rah Koh's last suggestion was to "Be the Boss". She encouraged her viewers not to be afraid to tell the photographer what to do. Politely request that he/she shoot from a higher perspective - that he get up on a step stool (or even a curb on the street) and take your picture with the camera pointing down toward you. This helps to ensure that you'll reap those streamlining benefits we were talking about earlier.

Thank you Me Ra (and Nate) for an awesome episode!

Be sure to check out the first part of her episode where she spends a day with a stay-at-home mom and teaches her how to take better pictures of her children. Her tips will transform your own picture taking.

I loved watching Me Ra Koh share her tips on live television. While I've read many of these tips in countless other places, it was great fun to see a photographer whose work I've followed being featured on such a fun new show.

Congratulations, Me Ra!

Now, if you are still having trouble picturing these tips, take a look:

Here our lovely model is standing at a 45 degree angle to the camera lens. Notice that she is also putting her weight on her front foot with the back foot slightly behind. (I love a model who knows how to take direction from the photographer.)

See how this shortens her shoulder and hip lines? Suddenly, the two broadest areas of her body automatically appear slimmer - which means so does she. That's worth at least 3 months of 5 days a week in the gym!

Through my own "session" with our lady friend here (and from my studies over the years), I've learned a couple other slimming and posing tricks I'd like to share with you. Isn't it good to know there are easy solutions for feeling more confident in front of the camera?

Interested? Read on!

First, another visual...

Here's our model very close up. I'm not shooting from a high or a low perspective on this shot. Just straight on. Because she fills up more of the frame, every feature is exaggerated - making her appear quite large. This perspective is wonderful on children, but not so easy to accomplish in a flattering way on adults. It can be done though.

Here she is - from the same perspective - simply taken from a few feet away. The results are amazing. She looks significantly thinner, simply because her features are taking up less space in the frame.

You can achieve these same results for yourself by asking your photographer to photograph you from a comfortable distance as well. For a subtle approach, just ask them to include a little of the background setting.

Alrighty, here's my Top Ten Tips for Looking Your Best in Portraits:

1. As just mentioned, don't be afraid to ask your photographer to put some distance between you and the camera. Extreme close-ups are lovely, but they emphasize every single feature. Framing the image from further away helps to put your features into better perspective. The result: You look thinner.

2. Chin Up! If I could improve upon this last image, I would ask my model to lift her chin and push it slightly forward (not unnaturally so, just enough to lengthen the neckline and reduce the double chin affect). Even if your face is looking down, pushing your chin forward will still work wonders.

3. Rotate your upper body slightly at the waist.

4. To enhance the bust-line, simply arch your shoulders back a little. If you are sitting, lean forward a little and bring your arms together at your waist, keeping your elbows in close to your sides.

5. When standing, cross one leg in front of the other to give the affect of narrowing the thigh region a little. Just don't go overboard, or you'll look like you need a restroom break.

6. Remember to breathe and appear at ease.

7. Keep your back straight and your shoulders in proper form. No slouching or shrugging!

8. When sitting on the ground, put your weight on the back of one thigh - instead of distributing your weight equally on both thighs.

9. Vary the position of your arms and legs. If one arm is straight, slightly bend the other. Same with the legs. This keeps you from looking too stiff.

10. Smile! Show those pearly whites, or smile with your eyes. Mix it up. You don't have to show teeth in every shot. Either way, engage your personality, and your portraits will shine!

There you have it!

With these tricks in your bag, I hope to see more of you adult family members in your family pictures this year - front and center!

And, don't forget, with a few digital Photoshop tricks at the ready (chin tucks, face lifts, facials, teeth whitening, and tummy tucks to name a few), you're left with no excuses!

Hope to see you Looking Good soon!


  1. This info is coming in handy - we are actually having professional family photos taken today!!! AND I'm hopefully going to get a profile shot done :-)!!! Thanks Tammy for the link!!

  2. Thanks, Courtney! I can't wait to see your new pics. But, I sure wish I lived close by so I could be the one to photograph your beautiful family instead! One thing's for sure, with or without these tips, you'll be a pretty picture!


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