How to be more photogenic: 8 tips to look good in photos

Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself and thought “Oh god, I look terrible in this photo!” You’re not alone! Even though it seems some people are naturally photogenic, the key(s) for how to be more photogenic is not that complicated.

In fact, with a little practice and a few little hacks, you can start looking a lot better in photos. You are already beautiful in real life, after all 😉

What makes someone photogenic?

A good selfie or portrait is a photograph that naturally brings out your best features and naturally masks your sub-optimal features.

I’m not a big fan of excessive photoshopping. Sometimes, when I’m just trying to clear my head, I somehow end up on r/instagramreality and some of the photos are quite…interesting.

Fortunately you don’t need much software to look good in a photo. It doesn’t matter if you’re skinny, chubby, tall, short, or whatever. Everyone is beautiful in their own way(whether they believe it or not).

Interestingly enough, an artist named Scott Chasserot did a study where he took portraits of volunteers and used AI to modify the portraits to what the subjects felt they “wanted” to look like. Some of the before/after photos were nearly the same, but some were quite different!

The first secret to being photogenic is to be natural and confident! And arguably the first part of being confident is smiling naturally. A smile will completely change your face!


How can I smile better in photos?

Did you know that you don’t just smile with your mouth, but you smile with your eyes too?

When you smile, you use a total of 12 muscles – 4 of those muscles pull up the corners of your mouth into the smiling shape, and 2 muscles called the orbicularis oculi are used to make the eyes crinkle.

A genuine, natural smile is usually done with both the mouth and the eyes. If you don’t believe, go to a mirror or pull out your selfie camera and give it a try!

First, try smiling with just your mouth – what is commonly known as a fake smile.

Next, thing about something that genuinely makes you happy and smile with your eyes and your mouth. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference there is.

Often when there are other people around, you tend to get a little conscious of yourself and you won’t be able to command a “good” smile on demand, but with a little bit of practice, you can train yourself to have your fake smile use both your mouth and your eyes.

Additionally, some folks find that their open mouth smile looks a little weird when they’re not doing it naturally, so in that case, a closed-mouth look will be just as good as long as you are using your eyes.

How can I make my face look thinner in pictures?

Here’s a dirty little trick: Whatever is closest to the camera will look bigger, so make sure that anything you want to emphasize is closer to the camera and anything you want to minify is further away.

That’s one of the reasons you’ll see so many people sharing photos on the ‘Gram from high up. That way, their faces are accentuated and more obvious, and the rest of their body look slimmer since it’s further away.

The opposite is also true if you take a photo of yourself from the bottom of your face to upwards, where your chin will look huge and your head will look tiny.

You can utilize this same tip to make your face look thinner, too. By adjusting the way you hold the camera, you’ll be able to change how wide or narrow your face looks.

Another thing you can try is to have your head next to a bigger object. That way the larger object will kind of hog the spotlight and make your face look smaller. Just pick something slightly larger than your head/torso. If you stand next to a building or something it won’t make much of a difference!

More tips on how to look good in a photo

While smiling and holding the camera above your head will do wonders, there are a few more things you can try.

Know your “good side”

Very few people have perfectly proportional faces. Some folks know what their “good” side and “bad” side is. For example, you may find that your face looks a bit funny when you’re looking to the right, but you look normal when you are looking to the left.

It will be different for everybody and the way to find out is just to take some selfies from either side and compare!

Next time you are being photographed(or taking a selfie), just remember to show your good side.

Experiment with angles

Experimenting with angles is an extension of holding the camera high and and showing your good side(kind of like a 3/4 view portrait)

By changing up the angles, you can really blend yourself into a background or really make yourself pop out. Personally, I am not a big fan of straight-into-the-camera headshots because I end up looking like an angry deer caught in headlights.

Turn your face a little, position the camera a bit in a different direction.

There’s no limitation for how many photos you can take thanks to digital memory, so snap away!

Utilize lighting

Take a look at the video clip above. It’s the same lady, but the lighting changes, and those changes almost make it look like a new person every single time.

That’s how important lighting is!

In some cases, you want lighting to be flat, where the whole subject is evenly lit and the camera captures an overall bright image.

In other cases, you want to highlight shadows, especially on your face and around your eyes. This gives an effect of extra depth to your body and makes the picture look better overall.

Sit down or hold on to something

This is something I have noticed in myself, too, so it really hits right at home. In photos (especially where I am standing up) with my arms loose on my side, I look like a mess because my head is in one position and my arms don’t look neat at all.

If you’ve experienced something similar, here’s the trick:

Sitting down in your photos will hide the lanky/messy arms because you’ll have to put your hands on your lap or lock them together. That will give your hands something to do and will keep them from being a mess.

Additionally, you can grab on to something like a coffee cup, a phone, or any odd object.

Think of why Bane stands the way he does in The Dark Night Rises.

This will also help give your whole body and physique a nice, flattering form in the photo.

Use the chicken wing

An extension of holding on to something is using the chicken wing posture. The chicken wing will not work too well if you’re a guy, but should do wonders if you are a girl.

There’s nothing sexist here, just that the chicken wing position helps accentuate your curves! And I suppose not all guys would be too keen on accentuating too many curves.

Still, there’s no harm in giving it a try: maybe you can pull it off 🙂

Experiment with Photofeeler

Photofeeler is a really interesting app that lets you upload a picture of yourself and it will process it using an algorithm to tell you how good the picture is overall.

Take the scores with a grain of salt, since it is an app after all, but if taking photos of yourself is something you’re passionate about or if it is an important part of your work, it’s definitely worth experimenting with to know what the algorithm thinks.

After all, the algorithm is probably based on data provided by real people.

Even if you are just practicing using the tips in this post, give Photofeeler a shot. Maybe you can learn something interesting about using your camera!


I hope you found these tips on how to look good in photos useful. You don’t have to be naturally photogenic – with a little bit of practice and knowing more about your body, you can learn to look good in any picture!

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