A guide to help your pageant photography session

At some point in our lives, we’ll most likely be asked to pose for a professional photographer—for an engagement announcement, family portrait, or work-related event. As most photographs in drivers’ licenses and passports show, it’s not necessarily a happy occasion. We appear frozen with fear and discomfort, as if facing a firing squad instead of a camera. Yet the experience need not be so torturous, or the outcome so depressing. To come across as confident, even radiant, simply follow the clever tips below.

Here is a quick list of easy and practical things you can do to always look good in pictures!

  • Working with the Photographer
  1. You’d never hire a cat-sitter or house painter without a prior meeting, nor should you a photographer. Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations, then study his portfolio or book of photographs.
  2. Share your intentions for the photo, even bring along samples from magazines to communicate the look you’re after.
  3. Don’t show up late. Don’t tell the photographer how to set up lighting. And do not refuse to cooperate. An irritated photographer may not take the time to capture your best qualities.
  • Hair and Makeup
  1. Wear a heavy layer of translucent powder—your face will appear flawless in photos. Shine disappears, pores seem smaller, skin looks even, and blush is smoother.
  2. Line lips before applying matte lipstick, then reline. Dip a cotton bud in powder and run along lip line to prevent color from bleeding. Mouth “pops” more too.
  3. Never wear frosts or garish colors—they create a caught-in-headlights look. Using little or no makeup isn’t wise either, unless of course it’s a beach setup or for a very casual snapshot.
  4. Don’t get a new cut just before the shoot.
  5. Avoid over-styling—soap opera hair looks too staged—or the latest fad, such as pinning tresses with lots of tiny barrettes.
  • What to Wear
  1. After a dress rehearsal at home, bring a selection of clothes and accessories.
  2. Choose solid colors, not patterns, which grab too much attention.
  3. Select and wear clothes that make you feel comfortable, beautiful, and always complimented in.
  4. For black-and-white shots, dress in black-and-white clothing, or test colors on film beforehand to see whether they turn into interesting shades of gray or simply appear dreary.
  5. Avoid jewelry that would distract from your face or date you. Also drop shoulder pads—they’ll make you look enormous in a simple head-and-shoulder shot.
  • Posing
  1. Stretch your chin out about an inch and bring it down a little to strengthen jaw line. Cleans up a double chin.
  2. Never face a camera head-on; turn your best side to the lens, then twist your body a little in the other direction.
  3. Ask the photographer what possible poses and expressions you can work on—from the serious to the happy looks, from the formal to the casual projection.
  4. When you are feeling uneasy, your pose will look uneasy. Work on poses that are natural, comfortable, and doesn’t make you look contorted.
  5. It is advisable for the photographer to take an instant film shot before starting the session so you can double-check your positioning and clothes. You’ll be able to fix posture, hair, makeup, any loose buttons, and more importantly, improve your facial expressions.
  • Mood
  1. Spend as much time in front of a mirror as you need—thirty minutes or two hours if necessary—so you won’t be agonizing over how you look during the shoot. Once you’re ready, walk out the door and forget about yourself.
  2. You may want to bring along a tape of favorite music so you’ll feel relaxed, even lively. If you can’t play music during the session, think of happy thoughts—of people, places and events in your life that brought you happiness and joy.
  3. Whatever you’re thinking is reflected in your expression. When you look at the camera, consider it your best and most trusted friend and relate to it in that way.
  4. Chat with your photographer—the light from within and behind your eyes comes alive.
  5. Be yourself. A staged shot sets up an unreal expression, while a successful portrait tells not only what you look like but also who you are.

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