5 tips for looking natural in photos

The key to looking natural in photos is to do just that – act natural.  Sounds too simple, right?  Maybe at first, until you consider that you have (hopefully) hired a professional. For most people, getting in front of the camera is a nerve wracking and sometimes brand new experience which often translates into stiff, awkward versions of otherwise normal human beings.  I get it.  There is a ton of pressure associated with expensive professional photos.  So, I’m here to help.

If you follow these simple tips and have a little trust in your professional photographer, chances are your photos will turn out as beautifully as you had hoped.

1. Do what you would normally do.

What do I mean by this?  When your photographer asks you to stand or sit somewhere, stand or sit as you normally would.  You wouldn’t normally stand stiff as board with your arms straight down by your sides, would you?  The fact is, if you’ve hired a photographer who knows what they’re doing, they will take you from your natural stance into a more flattering pose while still making you look like yourself.  Sometimes my clients even fall into the most perfect poses just by standing or sitting exactly how they would in their real lives and all I have to do is make a few minor tweaks.  It is important to note, however, that many times the things your photographer is telling you to do in order to create a flattering pose may feel weird or awkward to you, but if your photographer knows what they’re doing, then you’re going to look really great.  So, follow their instructions as best you can and have a little faith in their abilities.  Also, feel comfortable in knowing that you are in a good pose if you’re photographer hasn’t told you to change anything.

2. Relax

Unfortunately for all of us, nervousness shows through in photos.  We can just tell when someone didn’t feel comfortable during their photo shoot.  Most of the responsibility for making you feel relaxed falls on your photographer as its part of our job to capture images that show your true personality, however, we still need a little help from you.  Once you have been placed into a flattering pose by your photographer, take a deep breath, shake off the nerves (sometimes I literally have my clients do a little shake it off shimmy), and relax your shoulders, eyes and mouth.  When we’re nervous, our shoulders tend to move up towards our ears and our eyes and mouth become tense.  If you are aware that this is probably going to happen, you can make a conscious effort to stop it.  Again, relax in knowing that your photographer will tell you if you need to change something in order to make it more flattering.

3. Move

Don’t forget to move around a little bit.  Your photographer is going to take a bunch of pictures and the last thing you want is for them all to look the same.  You have the opportunity here to try new things, maybe find out some flattering angles you didn’t know were possible and even make some mistakes.  I know that once you’re put into a pose, it feels like you have to stay exactly as you were put, but unless your photographer specifically says, “Don’t move!” then its a great idea to make small, minor movements for variety in your images.  Tilt your head, move your hands, move your feet, or simply change your expression.  It doesn’t have to be a drastic change to create variety.

I think this tip is super important because I have been surprised numerous times by how great my clients look in poses they have put themselves into.  Poses I would never have put them in because I thought they would be unflattering.  Moving around a bit is also a good idea because it keeps your expression from fading into the fake smile or blank stare zone.  If we stay in the same position too long our face starts to show it.  At any rate, if you’ve hired a good professional photographer, any unflattering images that were taken during your shoot will never see the light of day, so you don’t need to worry about every little change you make the entire time you’re in front of the camera.

4. Hands

Somehow we lose all knowledge of what to do with our hands as soon as a camera is in front of us.  They lose all purpose and become like bricks weighing down our arms.  My best advice, and what I always tell my clients while posing them, is to create a purpose for one hand and let the other hand relax on your leg.  While standing, that would mean putting one hand on your hip, in your pocket, or on an object nearby.  For instance, if you’re posing near a tree, wall, fence, railing or anything similar, find someway to place your hand on that object to ground you.  Then let your other hand relax onto your leg.  NOT hanging down at your side with no purpose, but actually resting on your leg or hip.  Try it.  It instantly makes you look more natural.  It sounds a little weird, but it totally works.

While sitting on the ground, you’ll want one hand on the floor stabilizing you and the other hand resting on your leg or knee in a natural looking manner.  Just let your hand fall where it normally would and your photographer will tell you if you need to move it.  You can also get away with resting both hands on your legs if your hands are in different positions on either leg.  For instance, you don’t want one hand on each knee or each thigh.  That’s going to look awkward.  Like I said before, let your hands fall into a natural position and your photographer will tell you to move them if need be.  While sitting in a chair or on a stool, the same principles apply.  Either let your hands fall naturally onto your legs or give one hand a purpose and let the other fall naturally onto your leg.

Other easy options – clasp your hands together or cross your arms.

5.  Feet

Another conundrum – our feet.  What the heck do we normally do with these things?  Well, we definitely don’t stand with our legs completely straight and our feet side by side and super close together.  We would topple over.  We normally put our weight on one foot and have the other foot out to the side, right?  Stand up and try it.  You see what I mean?  So, this is what you would want to do while taking photos.  Put your weight on one foot and let the other foot do what it naturally does.

The most flattering poses we can create are those with angles in our bodies and the position of our legs and feet have a lot to do with this.  For instance, you can bend one knee a little bit or put one foot out in front of the other or off to the side to look more natural.  You can put your feet hip width apart to look more powerful.  You can turn your hips or lean more to one side than the other to look thinner.  Posing legs and feet may be the hardest part of looking natural and you may have to put a lot of trust into your photographer to get you into the best poses, but knowing a little bit about what makes us look and feel natural can help in the overall process and make your photographer’s job a little bit easier, thereby ensuring beautiful photos for you.

Here are some examples of natural poses:

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