How to Look Good in Pictures : 47 Tips to Look Your Best

What a let down! You think you look OK or even pretty good on vacation, at a wedding or on a night on the town when you have made an effort to look your best.

And then you see the photos your friends or family took, sometimes plastered all over Facebook and tagged with your name.

look good in pictures

You can learn how to look good in pictures

Oh dear! Do you really look as bad as that? Actually you don’t! It’s just that there are a few secrets you need to learn about how to look good in pictures.

Even celebrities caught off guard by the paparazzi look a bit of a sight sometimes.

Normally they rely on professional styling with makeup, hair and clothes as well as the skills of photographers to get the lighting, set and picture composition just right. Plus they are generally pretty experienced at showing themselves off at their best. Any problems after that and it’s nothing that a bit of judicious air brushing can’t put right.

But you only have yourself to rely on. Never mind, with the help of these 47 tips you’ll have to do a lot less begging for pictures to be destroyed or untagging of your photos in Facebook pretending it’s not you with the muffin top and triple chin.



The correct lighting is one of the most important things to get right if you want to look great in pictures but it’s the thing that you probably have the least control over. If you have a good photographer who understands lighting through and through, that is half the battle. If you have a choice, (if it’s your wedding or something), pay whatever it takes and get a great photographer!


Failing that see if you can influence where and when photographs are taken. If the cameras come out and the only lighting is indoor and overhead, offer to take the pictures for everyone else. They will be terrible!

Use softer light on a sunny day

Use softer light on a sunny day


The best artificial light is neither from above or below, it is at the same level as your face and preferably from your good side at 45 degrees. That’s why you can look great in your mirror at home and then terrible in a shot someone took 10 minutes later. It’s all about the lighting. It’s important to avoid shadows cast under your eyes or you will have a haggard look no matter how much sleep you have had.


If you can, have picture taken out of doors. A cloudy day is best as diffused light is the most flattering or aim to have photographs taken in the softer light before 10 o’ clock or after 2 pm on a sunny day.


If you have to have your picture taken indoors try and stand near a window with light coming from the side rather than behind you.


If you’re really keen take a photography course, you can understand how lighting works in pictures and can make sure you are seen in the best light!

Standing Poses

standing pose

Angle yourself towards the camera


Don’t slouch. The last thing you need to show are rolls of stomach fat and a double chin caused by slouching. Good posture and a straight spine can make you look like you instantly lost 10lbs.


For full body shots, try the celebrity pose. Stand so that you angle your body three quarters towards the camera with one foot in front of the other, your weight on your back leg and your shoulder turned to the front. Even if that pose doesn’t seem quite right for the group shot you’re in, make sure at least to angle your body towards the camera.


When standing, hold your buttocks and stomach in but don’t contract your abs so much that your ribs stick out. You want to look relaxed not tense.


Also, keep your shoulders back and down and your arms relaxed by your sides and not like they were glued there.



Ask the photographer to keep the camera at eye level or slightly above it. My other half is a lot taller than me and this ruined a lot of shots before I read this tip.


For portraits, try and relax before the shot is taken by focusing downwards and looking up just as the shutter is clicked. Don’t look directly into the lens, but just above it for a more natural expression.


If there’s a flash being used, especially if there is no red eye reduction device on the camera, look at a light source a couple of moments before the picture is taken to reduce the size of your pupils and prevent that devilish look.

look good in a portrait photo

You don't need a huge grin to look good in a portrait photo


Always keep your mouth slightly open in photographs. Just enough of a gap to slot a coin between your lips will you give you a fuller more attractive mouth.


Use a gentle smile, rather than an all out wide grin that exposes too much of your gums and turns your eyes to slits.


Put your tongue behind your upper teeth to relax your mouth and face.


Look at the camera at an angle showing your best side. (Everyone has one – see the “Practice” section below.) Lower your front shoulder slightly to give a longer, more elegant line to your neck.


Raise and stick out your chin just a little to avoid sporting a double chin in the photograph. This might feel slightly unnatural but it will definitely look better than having an extra chin. You will know if you gone too far if you get a crease in the back of your neck. As you stick your chin out you will generally feel tension in your shoulders which will serve as a reminder for you to push them back as well.


If there’s a count of 3 before the shot is taken, blink half way through to avoid blinking during the shot. Otherwise just blink naturally and there’ll be some photos without you having your eyes closed. You are more likely to blink/have unnaturally staring eyes if you try not to blink!

Seated shots

look good in a seated photo

Show off great legs!


For poses behind a desk or table, lean slightly towards the camera to imply interest and improve facial definition, keep your chin tucked in and rest your chin on your hands, with your thumbs tucked out of sight. Don’t actually put any weight on your hands though because it can do weird things to your face.


For seated poses containing your full body, where you want to lengthen your legs, have the legs in the center of the shot and have the photographer shoot the picture upwards.



We all have colors that suit us and colors that drain us. Get rid of anything that is not flattering from your wardrobe. It’s not doing you any favors even if you’re not having your picture taken. If you’re not sure which colors work, have your colors done professionally then purge – great excuse for buying new stuff!

Solid vibrant colors work best in photographs

Solid vibrant colors work best in photographs


Choose vibrant solid colors for photos but nothing too garish that will take over the shot (neon and shiny reflective fabric are out). Black and white solids can make you look washed out so avoid them too. Bold patterns and stripes are too busy and tend not to work well in images either.


Choose simple stylish clothes without too many distracting details. Anything uncomfortable is going to make you look uncomfortable in the picture too. Don’t overdo anything : jewelry, cleavage or accessories because they will take over the picture.


Remember that sheer clothes might look more transparent in a photograph so take care if you are wearing chiffon!


The right clothes can make you look taller and slimmer as well as present the impression you want to give to the world. If you want to look thinner in pictures, choose the right outfit as well as following the photography tips here. See How to Look Taller and Thinner for tips on how to achieve that.



Everything looks exaggerated in photos so don’t go over the top with makeup. If you wear bright red lipstick, chances are those lips are all that people will see when they look at your picture.

Natural beauty (my niece Joanne)

Natural beauty - wear some makeup but not too much


You do want to wear some makeup though. If you Google “stars without makeup” you will come up with sites like this one, which show exactly what not wearing makeup can do for you in pictures!


Do wear foundation and concealer but choose a color as close as possible to your natural skin tone and blend well so there are no visible tide marks.


A touch of blusher can put a bit of color in your cheeks if you are feeling a bit lackluster but again don’t go over the top.


Glitter and creamy highlighter can look great for parties but in photographs, be warned, they can look like you are sweating.


Flash photography = shiny faces in photographs if there’s even a hint of shine. Make sure you blot with tissue, blotting paper or powder before the shot.


If you have a special occasion ahead, like a wedding, where you know there will be a lot of photos taken, consider using a professional makeup artist. My niece Jo (in the pic above) is a lovely girl anyway but she had a makeup artist for her wedding in June and she looked stunning all day – just the right level of makeup for the occasion and for the pictures.

Last Minute Check


Take a quick look at yourself in the mirror just before pictures are taken to make sure you have no glaring faults like lettuce on your teeth or lipstick on your cheek.

It’s All in Your Mind!

For good pictures, think happy thoughts just before the shot is taken

Think happy thoughts just before the shot is taken


Those who know how to be photogenic have a different attitude to having their picture taken than the rest of us. They actually love the camera and it shows! If you hate the camera, just pretend you have a crush on it in your mind or even flirt with it a bit. That can make all the difference.


Smiles always look great until you get in front of the camera and then they often look unnatural. A fake smile shows in your eyes and can sometimes look weird as well as fake. Just before the shot is taken, think about something that makes you happy or someone you love and then smile!


Even if you are doing a serious shot, try and look alert and express some positive energy with your eyes.

Learn From Your Old Photos


Look at old photos of you and see what you like about some (if any) and dislike about others. Then you can change or disguise what you don’t like and emphasize what you do.



Have a fun afternoon or evening with a friend and take loads of photographs of each other from all different angles using a digital camera so you get instant results about what works and what doesn’t. Start with the tips on this page but also experiment because everyone is slightly different in what makes them look good.

Do a bit of posing in the mirror and find your best side

Do a bit of posing in the mirror and find your best side

The knack of professional photography is to be able to find the best angles for every subject quickly but you only have to discover your own! A few hours invested should find you some winning poses you can use for the rest of your life.


For making sure that photographs of your face look good, spend a minute or so every morning in front of the mirror finding the best angle for your face. Most of us have one side which looks better than the other so that is the first thing to establish. It is often the side of your face where your parting falls (if you have a side parting).


Also practice your smile and make sure that you find the best look for you. Try this out whenever you pass a mirror when you are on your own and become so aware of it that you can do it at any time without a mirror. Celebrities have this down to a fine art but you can be sure that they have spent time alone getting it right first.

Prepare Yourself


If you know you will be having your picture taken, avoid eating carbs a couple of days before (to prevent bloating), get plenty of rest and hydrate your skin by drinking enough water. Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine. These small things can make a lot of difference to the finished picture.

Don’t Be Shy
Photos might be all people know you by these days on many social networking, dating and job sites.
People like to see real photos rather than avatars because showing a cartoon, your cat or an inanimate object makes you look like you have something to hide.
Follow these tips for looking better in pictures, and just have endless photos taken until you have something you are happy to present to the world.
NOTE TO SELF: Must get some better pictures taken 🙂

If you are having your hair cut, have it done a week or so before the event and let it settle in.


Go easy on the fake tan. Photos can exaggerate any orangey effect and this will be more pronounced if others around you are not tanned.


Have a few shots taken in the outfit you are planning to wear so that you know what angles work with it.

Edit The Results


Get whoever is taking the photos to take loads of shots. If the photos are yours get rid of any duds at once. That is what the delete button is for! Otherwise you may have to resort to begging.


If the final results matter a lot, for example, you want to look your best on your resume, for a dating site or in your profiles on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, there’s always Photoshop which can improve images no end. If you don’t have a copy yourself or the skills to use it, there are plenty of people who will do it for you on for just $5.

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