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Published October 10, 2012, 11:33 PM

Positively Beautiful: How to look great in photos

We’ve all been to business conferences that feature an opportunity to take a picture with a celebrity speaker. Or maybe you get a candid picture taken with a mentor. Or perhaps it’s a spontaneous gathering of friends and someone is clicking away to remember the fun.

By: Dr. Susan Mathison, Areavoices.com, INFORUM

We’ve all been to business conferences that feature an opportunity to take a picture with a celebrity speaker.

Or maybe you get a candid picture taken with a mentor.

Or perhaps it’s a spontaneous gathering of friends and someone is clicking away to remember the fun.

These photos are great mementos, but can have a life of their own through social media. Photos that make you smile rather than cringe are the goal.

With digital cameras everywhere, conditions aren’t always under our control. But you can up the odds of a frame-worthy photograph by following these tips:

PERFECT POSTURE

Your mama was right. Stand up straight, shoulders back, chest out. Stand at a slight angle so that one shoulder is closer to the camera.

FIND YOUR BEST ANGLE

A straight shot is boring and rarely flatters. Turn your face sideways about a quarter to a third turn, and then look to the camera with a little head tilt. This seems to have a slimming effect on the face as well since the viewer’s eye travels vertically. Check out the photos in the business section to get ideas for how to turn your head an angle your chin. Practice to see which side you feel is best.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

While great makeup can hide a multitude of sins, light is the answer to making your skin look great in photographs. Outdoor light, except during mid-day, or use of indoor flash illuminates your skin and minimizes wrinkles and imperfections. Light should come from the sides, not overhead, which casts shadows especially under the eyes.

CHIN UP AND OUT

Avoid the dreaded double chin in a photo by making sure that the lens is at your eye level or above. You should be looking up to the camera, so if your photographer is short, sit in a chair, or have them stand on it, carefully! Practice jutting your chin out by an inch or two. This extends your jawline forward and looks better. Lean toward the camera. This is your chance to pretend you have a swan neck.

SAY CHEESE

Certain words and vowels can open up your mouth and create a pleasing smile for the camera. Say “cheese” or “Tuesday” to get a perfect smile. Then, put your tongue lightly behind your front teeth; it drops your jaw and opens your mouth slightly.

SMILE WITH YOUR EYES TOO!

Smiling is not just your mouth. It has to shine in your eyes too. Think about something wonderful or have someone tell a joke as you smile, and it will show up as a genuinely happy look.

PEARLY WHITES

Coffee, tea and red wine can dull your shiny teeth, so make keep your toothbrush and whitening toothpaste handy. Lipstick color can also affect teeth – a blue-based red lipstick makes your teeth look whiter by minimizing yellow tones.

EMPHASIZE YOUR EYES

The camera makes your eye look smaller, so play up your eye makeup if you know that photos are likely. Use eyeliner and a few extra coats of mascara.

GET THE RED OUT

Red-eye usually occurs in a dim room when the pupils are more open, allowing us to see through into the back of the eye, which has lots of blood vessels. opened up so much that the retinas, which are red with blood vessels, light up when the flash hits them.

So make sure you maximize light, as mentioned before, and fixate on something bright. The pupils shrink, reducing red-eye.

KEEP THEM OPEN

Close your eyes and have the photographer count to three. On three, open them, and the photographer should get a nice wide-eyed look. Focus your eyes slightly above the lens. If outdoors, try for the soft angles early morning or late afternoon light so that the light will be an asset rather than a factor making you painfully squint.

BE YOURSELF

Have fun! Being relaxed, confident and happy is the best guarantee for a great photo. You can lean against something, or interact with your friend or colleagues. In a more formal setting, chat with the photographer about anything but photos. Maybe you’d like to hold a book or your eyeglasses. You could put a hand on your hip, or clasp to one side, but avoid the rigid pose of hands straight down by your sides. The most photogenic people are not necessarily the most attractive, but they let their personalities shine through, and have fun with the camera.

Dr. Susan Mathison founded Catalyst Medical Center in Fargo and created PositivelyBeautiful.com.

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