How to look real in photographs?
October 24, 2007 10:24 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to react when a camera is pointing at you so that you look real/ not like an idiot in the photograph?

Whether someone else is taking the picture or you're trying to do a quick self-portrait, more often than not the outcome is awful - as MySpace/ facebook/ Match etc testify. You look at the outcome and wonder, "who is this person?" I want to have photographs of me of which I want to say, "this is me - I am this person." How?
posted by russmail to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't react. Forget that the camera is there. That way, you wont be modifying your behaviour.

Easier said than done, obviously.
posted by Rabulah at 10:28 AM on October 24, 2007

Yes, don't react. But the reality is that most people will tend to look awkward in casual candid photos, because few of the people who take such photos have the discipline to take multiple shots, so they have alternatives to the 'transitional' expressions, or indeed to weed out the bad shots, anyway.

For self-portraits, you have to practice practice practice.

Models do "mirror work" to become intimately aware of how they look at all times. If you're compulsive, you could try that.
posted by caitlinb at 10:31 AM on October 24, 2007

A few good ideas here.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:35 AM on October 24, 2007

This has little to do with you and has more to do with the person taking the photos.
Some people just don't know how to take natural photos at a party. Every time they wanted to take a photo they have that urge to call everyone and say "Hey, I'm taking a photo. so smile"
posted by WizKid at 10:39 AM on October 24, 2007

butt clench
posted by caddis at 10:55 AM on October 24, 2007

I agree with WizKid, it's not's the photographer. Nobody looks natural when forced to pose, at least not without practice.
posted by rhizome at 11:15 AM on October 24, 2007

If you're looking at the camera, try not to look at the "lens", but the eyes of the person behind the lens.
posted by Lieber Frau at 11:31 AM on October 24, 2007

Don't look into the lens; take the rare opportunity to look through the lens, directly at the eyeballs of the photographer and straight into his or her soul. Ponder and react accordingly. You may or may not want to smile at what you see.
posted by DaShiv at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2007 [3 favorites]

Hold your shoulders back, stick your chin out as far as you can, turn your face so it's at a 3/4 angle, tilt your chin down a little. That's what they do in portrait feels weird, but it works - it means you've got good posture, no double chin (or "meatbeard"), and most people photograph well at 3/4 and that angle. Hence, the "Myspace pose" or taking photos from above. Practice in a mirror first.
posted by lhall at 12:12 PM on October 24, 2007

In a group portrait (especially an informal one) people have a tendency to lean in toward the person in the center. Don't do that.
posted by sjl7678 at 12:44 PM on October 24, 2007

Speaking as a photographer, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with whoever is taking the photo. Most people taking snapshots are going to take one picture, not a bunch and then pick the best which is what anyone not taking a snapshot would do.

Someone once told me the only difference between good and bad photographers is that good photographers only show people their successes and hide the rest. It's true... photography is all about editing.
posted by bradbane at 12:52 PM on October 24, 2007

Don't look directly at the camera, always have your face turned a little bit to the left or right.
posted by radioamy at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2007

Instead of merely smiling at the camera, give the camera a big thumbs up, too. Notice the way you're smiling now? Okay, you can get rid of the thumb now.

The results are cheesy -- but 1000x better than the alternative, I've found.
posted by skryche at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2007

Are you comfortable with the camera and having your picture taken?

If so, pretend you just saw a good friend who you saw recently but are glad to see again. Not the overly excited emotion because you have not seen the friend in two years - just happy to see someone close to you.

If you are not comfortable with the camera, learn to enjoy seeing pictures of a party and the good times. Most likely other people like seeing these pictures as well, with you in them. Having your picture taken is part of this process - no one likes there picture taken for the most part and you need to get over and be comfortable.

Otherwise, as mentioned above, if the photography is doof and is calling everyone to attention for "the photo" - it's staged and that is cumbersome for everyone. Slap the photographer.

Butt clenching is a new one - time for some research...
posted by fluffycreature at 7:42 AM on October 25, 2007

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