This is NOT a photography course.
This is for WOMEN in Business who think:
“I’m NOT photogenic”.
That line has been uttered to me countless times.
My mission is to enable you to take better photos of yourself. I’ll share my tried and true methods for getting the best photos of my clients (who were just like YOU). As the title says, it comes in Five Steps.
1️⃣ – See the light 2️⃣ – Poser! 3️⃣ – Your colours 4️⃣ – (Invisible) Makeup 5️⃣ – Edit away
Excited? I sure am. Here’s to Photogenic You. 😘
*I’m not associated in any way with brands I mention and receive no benefit from mentioning any brands here.
STEP 1 – See the Light
Professional Photographers always look and see the light – how it plays in a given frame. There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule. However, I’m going to make it really simple for you. Just stick to two things when it comes to lighting.
First of all, if you’re inside, sit or stand facing the window (light source).
Here in the first image, I asked Amy to sit opposite/across from me. She is facing a large balcony area with sliding doors. You can see the highlights in her eyes. Secondly, if you’re outside, look for an open shadow.
When there’s sunlight, there’s always shadow. Look for spots where there’s nothing above your head. In the second photo example, you can see that the wall provides a little shadow (where you could stand effectively leaning on the wall). This is in the middle of the day so the shadow is shorter (not as big/tall). When it’s later in the afternoon or early in the morning the shadow here will be longer, which would be easier to photograph with more shadowy space.
STEP 2 – Poser!
Double Chin and Big Bum?
The vast majority of women I serve want to look slimmer. Of course, there are exceptions but I won’t talk about them here.
Lesson 1 – How to avoid a double chin
☑️ Sitting up or stand straight – imagine getting pulled from above.
☑️ Anchor at the back of your neck – this is to stabilise your body
☑️ Push your chin forward – if done well you’d feel very awkward but trust me, it works
☑️ Lower your chin just slightly – this makes your eyes look bigger.
This sequence doesn’t come easy, so practice. Clients hear me repeating this sequence hundreds of times during the course of their photoshoot with me.
Lesson 2 – How to look slimmer
Dani here in the second photo is lounging but the same rules apply when you’re standing up against the wall.
☑️ Bend your leg – pick the one that’s closest to the camera. In the photo, it’s Dani’s left leg
☑️ Push your bottom away – simply push further away from the lens than your upper body
☑️ Avoid a double chin – push the chin forward and down ever so slightly as Lesson 1.
Have a go!
STEP 3 – Know your colours
I have almost black hair and very dark brown eyes with kind of olive/yellow skin. I’m Asian so that’s not surprising. For my complexion and colour, I look fantastic in black. I can match my black with lime green or magenta red – basically high contrast colours. That’s why my personal brand colours are black (dark grey) and light rose/peach.
How about you?
If you’re like most of the women I’ve photographed you would probably own loads of black clothes despite the fact that black isn’t really your colour. You could have red or brown/blond hair with light green or hazelnut colour eyes. In that case, your best colours will be autumn warm colours. A denim jacket would be great on you while a black top will drain out all complexion and could make you look tired.
How do you find the colours?
At a pinch, you can hire a personal colour consultant. You do this once and your colours are set almost for the rest of your life unless you change your hair colour drastically.
The second option is to try various online tools. One that I recommend is a super simple tool offered by a company called Cladwell*. As I said, this is super simple but given the fact that you’ll need to experience and test your colours, getting this tool would be a great starting point if you haven’t yet moved away from the idea of ‘Black makes me look slimmer’.
Because it doesn’t (there are exceptions of course).
There are so many ways to play with colour (or lack thereof) so I am sharing some examples where colours play an exemplary role in photos above.
*Cladwell’s color quiz tool can be temperamental so be patient, please.
STEP 4 – Invisible Makeup
I say invisible but not really, as you can see in the example photos.
I almost always wear makeup. People don’t know that about me because they believe I don’t wear any. That’s what I mean by ‘invisible’.
Let me bring the Personal Branding aspect of my work in right here. As a professional, I could be talking to my clients via Zoom (video conferencing), having to appear in an online interview, and taking part in Facebook or IG live videos any time of the day.
Wearing makeup for me is a morning routine – have a coffee, take a shower and get ready to face the day. So how is it done really?
☑️ ︎Sort out your eyebrows
It took me a year or so before I settled on the current shape/thickness etc. Update your brows to be the most natural shape as possible while keeping most of your own brow hair. Nothing ages you more than mis-shaped, thin, strong and unnatural brows.
☑️ Match your skin tone
This took a while to get it right (I only managed well after my 40th birthday!) for me because I did it all by myself. Do whatever you need to do but find the right shade for your skin tone, please. For your information, I use Everyday Mineral* – they have an extensive array of colours with a comprehensive online colour matching tool. They also give you small samples to try out before committing to a full size.
☑️ ︎Go easy on colours
Here’s where I say really go easy UNLESS your branding colour is intentionally used for your makeup. For example, one of my client’s brand colours are orange and magenta so she often wears bright pink/magenta coloured lipsticks. She handles that nicely but she doesn’t even do that every day. Remember that you will have to keep up your branding on a day to day basis. This means making it doable.
Another thing that is not allowed is very dark under eyeliner. This is a NO-NO. Blend it in if you must but don’t wear it dark. That’s what my grandmother used to do in the 80s.
☑️ Lightly lightly
Here’s another reason why I call it ‘Invisible’, because if you’re following my tips correctly (lighting and wearing the right colours), you are going to look good with light touches of makeup. Fine facial lines, under-eye circles etc will not be that visible (even without any crazy retouching on your mobile phone!) when you’re facing soft light.
STEP 5 – EDIT AWAY
Finally, we are here – the last step to becoming more photogenic. 🎉
Most people know how to use filters in Instagram. BUT what they don’t often notice is the editing tools which are right next to the filter tab.
Follow this simple process in the Editing tab:
☑️ Brightness – could your image be brighter? Slide right and left with the brightness slider and compare which is better for you. For my client Leanne above, she should make her photo brighter.
☑️ Contrast – when your photo is a little dark, it’s likely that the dark area is being too dark so I decreased contrast (sliding to the left). This will make the image a little dull/flat.
☑️ Structure – here’s the tool to make the image less dull/flat. It simply adds something called ‘Clarity’. Go easy with this tool because it will accentuate lines which may not be what you want. I added just a little structure (sliding to the right).
☑️ Warmth – when photos are underexposed (darker), they tend to be too ‘warm’. By that I mean your image could contain too much yellow/amber. In the example, I made it go slightly cooler by sliding to the left (adding more blue).
In the example photos, you can see what before & after the editing looks like. Have a go at editing your existing images and see how much difference simple editing makes.
Now you’ve completed all five steps. I would love to know how you use these tips and tricks for your own photos.