We keep our best photos close to us. Whether on the walls in our homes, or on our desks inspiring us while we work, we have attachment to these pictures. We want to remember our best selves and the greatest version of the people we love. This is the joy flattering photographs bring us. Love, memory, inspiration & hope.
Flattering photos are not just for pleasure. In these modern times, people are using professional photos more than ever before. You see this happening across social media sites, dating apps, in our professional careers, in resumes, and with communication tools used in most workplaces now.
Everyone wants a flattering picture of themselves, and every photographer wants to take beautiful photos of their gorgeous photography subjects. Today, we are going to discuss a few important tips and tricks that will help you capture a more flattering image, whether you’re taking a selfie or having a photoshoot of someone else.
“You don’t have to be a professional to take professional photos.”
Best Cameras to take flattering photos
- Camera – Having the right camera is essential. Sure, you can get a great photo from your cell phone or a point & shoot compact camera, but if you want to take a fantastic professional looking photo, you’re going to want a camera that offers more power and features. There is a clear distinction between pictures taken from a more “professional” camera. With the innovative technology, these cameras do a lot more and they’re simple to operate.
DSLR cameras – DSLR cameras produce exceptionally sharp, vivid images. Their strong light sensors, interchangeable lenses, and powerful auto features, makes these types of cameras ideal for any style of photography, for any level of photographer.
Mirrorless cameras – Similar to DSLR cameras and arguably some of the most popular cameras on the market. These cameras do everything well from classic portraits to chasing a moving bird while keeping it in focus. Mirrorless cameras are designed to be easy to use, quieter during operation, more compact, and lighter weight than a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras also provide you with a preview of your image in the electronic viewfinder, so you can get everything just perfect before you take your shot. The Sony a7III mirrorless camera is a good choice as it does everything and is a reasonable price compared to more expensive models.
- Lenses – Depending on what type of images you plan on taking, you’re going to need the proper lenses that flatters your subject in the right perspective. Naturally, you will want a few different types of shots, so I recommend having a couple different types of lenses available. Swapping out lenses during a photoshoot is common.
- Wide Angle Lens – Ideal for shots where you use a background or landscape to compliment your subject
- Telephoto Lens – For portrait shots and closeups.
Tripod – This is a great tool for stability and a way to lock in your cameras position. Note, when using a DSLR or Mirrorless camera by hand, both have strong stabilization features which will reduce any “shake” from your pictures.
Ring Light – This is a common tool made popular by social media content creators and vloggers. Ring lights are inexpensive, provides great lighting (which is essential for flattering your subject), and can be used in more ways than one. I literally own 4 of them. (See lighting below for how to use)
Lighting & Scene
Taking your photos in the proper lighting conditions is a game changer. Getting your lighting situation right can be the difference in turning a great shot into a spectacular shot. From shooting outdoors during peak day when shadows cast are deepest, to photographing indoors with minimal natural lighting, it can be tricky. Though, it doesn’t have to be. Lighting can be leveraged to highlight your subject in the most flattering way.
- When shooting outdoors, keep your subjects from facing direct sunlight. This will reduce squinting and sharp shadows from appearing under their eyes, cheekbones, and jawlines. Utilizing natural light reflectors (like neutral-colored sidewalks, buildings, etc.) to balance any unwanted shading. Believe it or not, you can use your ring light for this as well. Yes, even outside. This is called a fill light, or secondary light source that can enhance the lighting situation in your photoshoot. This is a great cheat for getting a shot in a specific position of scenery when natural light may be affecting that area with odd shadowing. The “fill light” can help wash the dark shades.
As an alternative type of photo many find to be flattering, you can decide to use interesting shadows as an aesthetic from things like trees and architecture for a more artistic portrait of your subject. Utilizing beautiful backgrounds for a wide angled shot is another flattering option. When you’re outdoors, a great shot can present itself at any time. Be versatile and open minded.
- When shooting indoors, we often look around for good lighting and may even sacrifice great visually attractive location because the lighting is just not right. The background and foreground of a photo is a major contributor to complimenting the subject. This is where your ring lights become essential. Have you ever heard of three-point lighting in photography? This is a photography lighting concept used by all professionals. It involves having a key light, fill light, and back light. This is an important, yet easy trick that will help you become an expert in lighting for your photoshoot. I strongly encourage a quick internet search for different types of positioning to practice on your next photoshoot. Lighting is the essential for achieving flattering photographs.
Remember, getting the lighting just right is sometimes out of our control, but you can use your scene, appearance, and posture to offset, enhance, or bring balance any lighting situation.
Even though this may seem like a given. It’s worth mentioning because there are some things you should do right before shooting and to help the subject feel comfortable and look attractive.
- Outfit – Make sure everything is just right from the way it may blouse or drape over the body, to wrinkles. Check their outfits from head to toe for potential flaws. You don’t want to be finding inconsistencies when you’re reviewing images that have already been taken.
- Hair – Especially if you’re shooting outdoors, wind and dust can mess up your subject’s hair very quickly. Keep an eye open for this.
- Makeup – Slightly bolder, stronger makeup colors can appear better in photos. Suggest to your subject beforehand that just a little extra goes a long way. You’re not trying to overemphasize, but rather enhance.
This can be a challenging part for many photographers and subjects alike if anyone feels uncomfortable. The most flattering way to pose is to be natural, relaxed, and versatile. Communicate that with the subject and vise versa. No one wants a stiff photo. This is why you hear photographers exclaiming loudly “gorgeous” & “beautiful”, or “great shot” to their subjects while directing them how to position themselves.
- Take the good side – Everyone has a good side. This doesn’t mean one side is better than the other, rather is meant to enhance personal features of the subject for that particular setting. Factors include background, foreground, props, outfit, even the manner their hair is parted. These all-work hand in hand to produce a uniform cohesive frame highlighting and complimenting your subject’s best qualities.
- Posture – What kind of photo are you taking? Posture adds to the vibe and overall impression of the photo. Emotional elements such as confidence, power, and even romance, are all portrayed from posture. For the most flattering way to stand or sit, advise on things like torso straight with shoulders back, tilting the chin slightly forward, or bending the arms or legs. Look at the scene and play to the vibe.
- Be happy and smile! Have a good time and be happy for genuine natural smiles and facial expressions. A best practice is not to say cheese or direct to smile, but to communicate happy thoughts. Talk to your subject a beforehand to discover what to talk about during the photoshoot. Some people call this small talk, but you can get a little deeper, establishing a connection will help you take more flattering photos.
Taking the Photo
You’ve checked your gear, confirmed your cameras settings, and previewed the viewfinder. You’re ready to take some pictures. Have a quick discussion with the subject to get excited for the photoshoot, and you’re ready to begin. Take many photos from different angles and adjust poses for the same shot in different ways. If you see an angle producing flattering images, run with it and shoot more with different poses like sitting, standing, leaning, turning, walking, and facing different angles of light. Watch the torso, arms, and legs to look natural. Ensure symmetry within the frame between your subject and background. Try shooting a few images in RAW mode to enhance during postproduction. Never rush, let the shots come to you.