Not every picture can be a masterpiece. The odds are that sooner or later, someone is going to take a picture of you, and just as the shutter goes “click,” you’ll sneeze, blink, or catch a bug in your mouth. The hard truth: the only way to make sure you never look bad in a picture is to be ready to steal and destroy some cameras!
But what about those pics in which everything goes right, but the picture still comes out wrong? What about those pictures in which, no matter what the scale says, you appear to weigh ten pounds more than you really do?
Some pictures we can control, and some we can’t – we’re calling these “posed” and “spontaneous” pictures, respectively. Posed pictures give you more opportunities to look slim in front of the camera, but we’ve also got some tricks for psyching out the sneakier shutterbugs.
According to the popular saying, the camera adds ten pounds. With a little bit of attention to your wardrobe, makeup, and posture, and some creative posing, you can take those ten pounds back off, and drop another ten before you‘re uploaded to Facebook.
For Spontaneous Pictures
When it comes to looking a little bit thinner in all your pictures, think of the three Cs: clothing, color, and composure!
Dark clothing creates a natural fade-out from the camera, which can reduce the appearance of any bulges by darkening them in comparison to your relatively bright face.
If you’re looking to hide a flabby midsection and accentuate your bust, try shapewear clothing. It’s a far cry from a Victorian corset, but you’ll still want to consider comfort, especially if you’re wearing it for a long time. Speaking of shape-shifting clothing, heels with pointed toes can create a tapering effect that makes your legs look longer and more slender.
If you’re looking to make your bottom half look slimmer, Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine, recommends dark-wash jeans that curve into the thighs for a slimmer look. If you’re worried about a muffin top, Adam points to high risers to mask it.
A decent tan can actually increase the contrast of your skin. The visible high points, like your cheekbones and forehead, for example, appear more pronounced against low points like your cheeks and neck.
This contrast can create the illusion of slimness. Melanie Mills, who serves as the head makeup artist for Dancing with the Stars, told Marie Claire that “a customized salon spray tan will give you best results.” Professionals may be able to create contours, which can help make you look slimmer.
But if you don’t want to shell out for a professional spray tan at the salon, you can give it a go yourself with over-the-counter self-tanning products. Don’t tell the cast of “Jersey Shore,” but artificial tanners have come a long way from turning your skin “oompa-loompa” orange – an application of an artificial tanner properly matched to your skin tone can be very convincing.
The way you carry yourself says a lot about you – slouching, slumping, and sagging not only express a lack of confidence and vitality, but they also mush your midsection together, which could make you look heavier.
Think of a soldier at attention: neck straight, chest out, stomach in. You’ll not only look thinner and taller, but when you practice proper posture, you may actually start to feel more confident!
When You’ve got Time to Pose
Thankfully, not every camera is waiting in ambush to as you make “that face” – when someone is considerate enough to ask you to say “cheese,” remember the three Ds: distance, disguise, and diversion.
Whatever is closest to the camera is going to appear bigger, so pay close attention to the distance between you and the camera. Take a few steps back, and maybe ask the cameraman to do the same. If you’re being photographed with others, maybe let your thinner friends stand a little closer to the camera.
Got a part you don’t like? Cover it up! This could be as simple as placing a handbag or purse over your midsection to hide belly fat. Strategically position your body for the shot so attractive features are highlighted, and unattractive ones are not.
Photographer Bonnie Edelman told Heidi Klum on AOL that she tells people to “do the turtle”. Tyra Banks taught her the move, which is intended to smooth the jaw line and hide the ‘double chin’. Here’s how to do it: the shoulders should be kept back and the crown of your head should be kept up. Stick your chin out and then down.
Also, don’t squash your arms – keep your arms away from your body to avoid flattening and distorting any arm fat (or even muscle) in such a way that it looks broader and heavier than it really is. It’s the same for legs: if you’re having your picture taken while sitting down, lift your thighs up off your seat to avoid doubling your lap.
Rather than present a flat mugshot-style profile to the camera, angle your body a little bit. This will help narrow your hips (at least as far as the camera is concerned), and create a more complex curvature, which can camouflage any unsightly bulges. Plus, if you can turn a little “cheek” to the camera, a twist can add a bit of bump to your derriere, so hide the junk and accentuate the trunk!
The Finished Portrait
On a more serious aside, when you’re looking at your favorite models in magazines and catalogs, remember that they’re often digitally retouched. Competing with women who fast, exercise, and pose for a living and who are aided by modern computer technology is a surefire way to wind up with a terrible body image.
That’s why the last technique we have for looking good in pictures is simple and easy: relax, have fun, and don’t worry so much. A genuine smile or fun candid can make people forget all about how thick or thin you look in-frame.