10 Easy Tips and Tricks for Looking Better in Photographs


Before running out for Botox or for a fancy photographer, here are 10 quick and easy things you can do to improve how you look in photos:

Have a lot of shots taken of you, and only keep the best. Focus on flattering posture and angles. Know facial expressions that work for you. Make sure your eyes are facing the light. Pay attention to what you are wearing, your grooming, the lighting and background.

#1: Shoot a lot, only keep a few. Pros keep only between 1-10% of photos they take – seriously! Models don’t just walk on to set, take one photo, and leave. Change your angles and what you are doing. The more selection, the better. To improve your odds, use the following tips:

#2: Posture and angles. Elongate your neck, and tilt your chin just a bit. Do not slouch. Keep your shoulders back. If you are standing – turn slightly and rest your weight on your back leg. Don’t keep your legs together and shoulders straight. Lean slightly toward the camera and angle your face and/or body. Ensure the lens is above you, if the photographer is shorter than you, move to an area where they can stand on something or you can get below the lens. Head shots can also be more pleasing if only one ear is showing.


#3: Facial expressions. Laugh and smile. Keep your tongue behind your teeth. Look slightly above the lens. Try looking away from the camera and a few facial expressions. Candid shots are engaging and more interesting than the traditional “say-cheese” forced smile, which can create a forced look and squinty eyes.

#4: Eyes. Your eyes are the key. Holding a pose and keeping your eyes engaged is difficult. So close your eyes and then open them. Look away, then look back to the camera. Do something unexpected. Talk to the photographer. Face your eyes towards the light source: catchlights create sparkle and immediately add life to your eyes. If you are outdoors, stand in the shade, and face the light. If you are indoors, face a window at an angle.


#5: What you are wearing. Wear a color that flatters you. Don’t wear clothes that have crazy patterns, it will distract from your photo. Stay away from striped/checkered shirts. Also make sure your clothes aren’t wrinkled or bunching up, it can add weight if clothes are too baggy.

#6: Grooming. Make sure your hair is brushed, you don’t want a stray hair distracting. If you have a blemish, cover it. If your eyes look red, use eye drops. Brush your teeth, use a teeth whitener.

#7: Lighting. Don’t take photos in direct sunlight or with a direct flash. This is unflattering and will cause harsh shadows. Move into the shade, or make sure the flash is bouncing off the wall. Soft light smooths wrinkles.

#8: Background. You don’t want your background to distract. Take a look at what is behind you. You don’t want a tree growing out of your head. Aim for a clean and simple background that contrasts with you. If you have black hair, stay away from a dark black background. If you are wearing all white, you may not want to stand directly in front of an all white background. This shot was made by the red paint.


#9: Move around and dance. Try not to appear too tense and rigid. Dance around a little and shake out your body.

#10: Take advantage of props. Do something with your hands and use props. Below is a recent maternity photo of me, with a prop. I was getting tired and pictures were falling flat. Once I grabbed a prop, the shots got better.


About the author: Mira Zaslove is a photographer based in Menlo Park, California. You can connect with her through her website and through Facebook. This article originally appeared here.

  • Patrick

    Finally! No more Flickr rage, and we can’t get back to valuable tips like “make sure your hair is brushed” and “don’t take pictures in direct sunlight”. This is the kind of awesome information I’ve come to rely on from Petapixel.

  • Jason

    I think the top girl is holding it wrong…

  • Jerry

    I have to disagree with the “no crazy patterns” clothing rule, if you have a certain style, express it in portraits of yourself

  • photosforus

    Why is it that when there is a “useful tips” article the pictures are always so bleh? I understand the idea behind just trying to illustrate the example, but, if the tip was suppost to make the picture look better shouldn’t it, well, look better?

  • Duke Shin

    This’ll rustle your jimmies.

  • Gman

    Can you show us the afters, where the photos are good?

  • Are you kidding?

    THIS IS WHY MARISSA MAYER THINKS EVERYONE IS A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. this is why we can’t have nice things folks :( Props? PROPS?!!!

  • Trythe1

    “grooming” lol

  • harumph

    Plus sunglasses.

  • Fullstop

    but in the other peta pixel post that was directed at wedding photographers they said not to dance so now I’m confused and not a professional photographer because flickr said so.

  • dre

    that last photo is a terrible example…bad lighting and expression

  • Petrovich

    Wow… there has been an influx of some really terrible posts on petapixel as of late, this one only being overshadowed by that gaaawd awful 4′ drop “test”. Come on petapixel, entertaining articles are fair game and all, but let’s tone down the quantity and turn up the quality a bit, no?

  • Rpk

    I agree, been thinking of dropping PetaPixel from my daily roundup – too many mediocre/lame articles and advertorials masquerading as articles.

  • bob cooley

    Agreed. I’ve been visiting and contributing less and less lately. The quality of articles lately has been trending away from useful and insightful to mediocre.

    This article seems like it’s close to troll-bait for Professionals.

    Pros and serious enthusiasts don’t want to read “ten tips for better pictures from soccer-mom w/ camera”.

    “Pros keep only between 1-10% of photos they take”?? I’m sooo glad an amateur has stepped up to speak for us pros. Seriously? Sorry, no.

  • Jackson Cheese

    Don’t like it, don’t read it. There’s plenty of content here.

  • Al Borrelli

    The thing you fail to understand is the subject line hints at stuff we could all learn something from… if the tips were actually something you couldn’t find on every two-bit wanna be photographer website (mine included!). Point being is we expected more than “hey, you just got a camera, here have some tips” quality. So don’t give us the lame “don’t like it gtfo” bullshit..really.
    And really, “Photography for the Facebook Age”?? Is that supposed to be a good thing to promote yourself as? Maybe I’m missing something? Not only that, the “About” page is still the generic filler text! I’m guess the photog is a friend of someone here at PP!

  • erki

    My oh my……it must be quite stressful to find relevant and intelligent content these days for Petapixel……this kind of twaddle is just sad…..along with all the gimcrackery photo articles (“Look…..I’ve taken photos through a block of ice!!!!” type of things)….sigh….

  • Patrick

    I have to agree, these are terrible images to illustrate the principles. But, they’re not stock images, they’re her actual pictures. Go look at her Facebook. Motion blur, weird depth of field, terrible lighting. And she’s been doing this since November, 2012. Can’t understand why they wouldn’t be better.

    That’s why I made my snarky comment above. I wouldn’t have dreamt of going around handing out “tips” on the internet 7 months after I started taking pictures, but now, it’s all too common from anybody who buys a DSLR. But, there still is no reason for a photography site like this to publish this kind of junk.

  • Patrick

    Don’t forget, head shots can be more pleasing if only oner ear shows. And, keep your tongue behind your teeth.

  • Michael Zhang

    Hi Rpk!

    1. Sorry that you’ve been disappointed by content here lately. We cover a very broad range of topics for a diverse audience, so not everything is geared towards everyone.

    2. We do not publish “advertorials masquerading as articles.” We never accept payment for posts, and if we ever did, they would be clearly labeled as “sponsored posts.”

    Anyhow, thanks for the feedback, and hopefully you’ll find some things worth reading soon! :D

  • Antonomy

    Recently I have been doing this when I have a prime on for some reason, particularly when shooting horizontals …

  • jgwacker

    This was originally written for subjects, not for photographers on Quora and Petapixel ripped and repurposed.

  • Leon

    Im getting a linked in profile photo taken and I dont have any experience with photography. I think this article is meant to be used as some helpful tips for newbies like me. I havent spent a lot of time on petapixel but I like that there are articles for people with varying levels of skill!

  • Matthew Wagg

    Next on PP, how to teach your Grandmother how to suck eggs.

  • Libby Stack

    One trip to the camera counter at the Best Buy and you’re in. That last image is ghastly.

  • kschwartz

    Guys, the article is titled “10 easy tips and tricks for looking
    better in photographs” and I think it is very apparent that it is targeted
    to non-professional models/subjects, not to “photographers” who have
    enough time on their hands to give churlish criticism to aspiring photographers.
    Nothing said was egregious in any way and for someone that tends to have a lot
    of pictures posted by others via social networking sites, I am definitely
    interested in the subject. In an age of unquestionable and relentless growth of
    social media, the pictures representing who we are to our network — direct,
    extended, present, and future — are already profoundly important.

    Maybe I am more judgmental of the terrible photos that seemingly 90% of the
    world posts. But I can tell you that i am immediately twice
    as interested in someone — both personally and professionally — who has
    pictures that grab my attention in some way. Unfortunately, a masterful
    photograph and Photoshop can sometimes make a horrible subject much more than what they really are. Even more unfortunate is when a photograph doesn’t capture any of the depth or beauty that a person has…especially when it is caused by something that could have been easily or quickly fixed or changed by the model. Becauseof this, there is no reason for me (or any other) not to take a few notes on how to quickly and easily improve! Like someone said below: “if you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

  • Hussam A.

    Very nice, Thank you…