For others, lack of familiarity with the process of photography, insecurity with their appearance, or simple overthinking can lead to a frustrating photo session and a potentially disappointing result.
As the photographer, I try to make the photo shoot as comfortable as possible and often offer guidance on how to find just the perfect facial expression to make the photo exactly what the client wants and needs.
Before the photo shoot
Practice in the mirror
That’s right, I said practice in front of a mirror! Before your session, look at portfolios online to find different expressions you might want to try, then try to replicate them. While you are practicing, notice how your facial muscles feel and move for each expression. Since you won’t have a mirror at the session, knowing how your cheeks and eyes and mouth feel in the expressions you are trying to create will help you feel more comfortable.
During the session, don’t hesitate to let your personality shine! The best photos I take are the ones where the subjects of the photo are enjoying themselves and being their real selves. Fake smiles never look as good as real ones, so go ahead and laugh if your kids are acting silly. If you’re having a professional headshot or senior photo taken, think of something that has happened that made you laugh out loud, and let your face remember it.
9 tips for the perfect facial expression in your photos
Here are some specific tricks to help you get a great photo every time:
• Smile with your whole face, not just your mouth. Your eyes will give you away if you are not being real.
• Brighten your eyes by lifting your brows a bit. Be careful not to let it drift into a surprised look. Think about seeing someone you love unexpectedly… your eyes open a little wider, your smile will be authentic, and your ears will even lift a little, which can provide a brighter look to your whole face.
• Elongate your neck by thinking of the pose of a ballet dancer on stage.
• Get set in your pose, then tip your chin up just a bit before the shutter snaps.
• Position of the body lends a lot to the expression that will end up on your face. If you are sitting, sit up straight and roll your shoulders backward a couple of times to loosen them up and release any tension you’re carrying.
• Turn your shoulder toward the camera, then turn your head to look over that shoulder toward the photographer.
• If you’re standing, stand slightly turned so that you are at an angle to the camera, and put your weight on your back foot.
• Try different angles to find your “best side.”
• Ask for a few shots with the camera set slightly above you to help hide any neck or chin issues you may be uncomfortable with.
Bottom line: Have fun. Remember that your photo is a reflection of who you are today. And where you are today is a pretty great place to be!