How to actually look good in photos

It’s more than just an Instagram filter

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You’re in the perfect outfit, for once your hair has stayed bouncy, and your mascara has gone on both eyes evenly. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

Only the camera doesn’t reflect this. At all. Your forehead is shiny, your smile looks awkward, and in a feeble attempt to give yourself some curves by sticking everything out, you look more like Gemma Collins than Christina Hendricks. If you want a new Facebook profile pic, you’ve got to make sure everything around you is up to scratch – from the lighting, to the angle you’re facing the camera, to where you position yourself in a group photo.

If you want to snap and go quickly at pres, you’re never going to nail this. It’s an art.

Sort the lighting out

Mood lighting

Mood lighting

Any budding amateur photographer will tell you the lighting is essential, but do you actually know what the most flattering lighting is? The best photos are taken in natural light, but it’s pretty hard to come by at 11pm, when you’re simultaneously trying to down your drink and jump in a cab.

The flash should be used sparingly, as you don’t want to bleach out any already good light. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen said: “The most crucial thing is lighting. If you get bad lighting you’re screwed. Know where the light is. You don’t want it below you or above you, you want it to shine directly at you. The key thing is no shadow.”

Face the camera side on

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Remember posing one time, full on facing the camera? Suddenly your thighs looked bigger than ever, and your hands and feet were at a really awkward angle because you didn’t quite know what to do with them. It was such a mortifying photo you deleted it straight away, never to be seen again.

You might laugh at all the prins who teapot, but they’ve got something going on there. You’ll look slimmest from a slight angle, your legs will look their longest and you don’t have to worry about accidentally recreating your yearbook photo from primary school.

Fashion photographer Alex Lubomirski recommends positioning yourself at a 10 degree angle away from the camera. He said: “A good place to start when finding someone’s best angle is to have the person facing you, then turn their body 10 degrees to one side so you have a slight tilt in the body. Head should tip down ever so slightly – it is a myth if you turn your head up it makes you taller, it actually gives you double chins.”

Head tilts are still a thing

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Once again, those teapotting queens have got it spot on. Not only does tilting your head elongate your neck, but you’ll subconsciously tilt your head forward too, avoiding the dreaded double chins. But don’t take it too far, or you’ll end up looking like you’ve cricked your neck.

Gisele explains: “Tip your head and learn what angles work with your face: everyone is different so you have to learn what suits you. You can practice in passport photo booths for as long as it is your turn, to learn what angles suit your face. Tip your neck to elongate it, make eye contact with the camera.”

Don’t cross your legs

Crossed legs are not flattering

Crossed legs are not flattering

Controversial, but if you want to stand correctly you should never cross your legs: it’s the Cardinal sin. Rumour has it the trick makes your legs look longer, but in reality, pair it with a head tilt and a side-on profile, and you just look like you can’t balance.

The key to making your legs look as long and silky as possible is to have one leg slightly forward, and bend your back leg a touch. You should never stand pigeon-toed (with your toes pointing towards each other) either: it only makes your hips look bigger.

If you’re going to pout, do it properly

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There’s nothing worse than a trout pout to take your bitchy resting face to a whole new level. You might think you look alluring, like Kylie Jenner ain’t got nothing on you, but get over yourself, you don’t.

Pouting pro Gisele recommends: “Always have your mouth slightly open, enough to put a penny between your lips, as this will make your lips look fuller. But no one can look bad if they smile.”

Group shots are the absolute worst

Stay side on, even in group shots

Stay side on, even in group shots

Always go for the end. You can throw your shoulders back and get your angle just right. Stand in the middle and you risk snubbing the person next to you if you go for the side angle, leaving you only with the frumpy full on angle: your arms wrapped around your friends’ shoulders, inadvertently puffing your chest out like you’re on your boyf’s steroids.

But most importantly, you need to stay relaxed. It’s easy to look stiff and posed in a group photo, so keep it casual. As photographer Alex says: “Try and have a fun, relaxed atmosphere when taking a picture, even if you’re nervous. Keep a stream of light chit-chat going which will lighten the mood.”

You can read more from Alex Lubomirski and Gisele Bündchen in Camilla Morton’s etiquette book, “How to Walk in High Heels”.