Look Your Best in Every Photo


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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Editor's Note: Many of us spend years hiding from the camera, but along our healthy journey, we eagerly want to capture every step of the way. How can we ensure that our "after" photos are good ones? An image consultant and SparkPeople member tells us how.

By Merry P. Nachemin (SPARKENISTA), Certified Image Consultant

Whether you are on your health and weight loss journey or have arrived at your destination, it is important to stand tall and celebrate your commitment and progress at each step of the way. One way to do this is with fabulous pictures that record every stage of your unique story. Here are a few are guidelines designed to help you look your very best no matter in what chapter you find yourself at this moment. (Check out the winners of SparkPeople's Official 'After' Photo Contest)

Your attitude, enthusiasm and exuberance are the essence of every picture. That is what comes across to the people viewing your pix and what will be evident in the years to come as you look back on this time. Everything else is wallpaper. Therefore, do not dwell on the small stuff.

Your face is the star of the show. You should always draw attention to your face, shoulder line and upper torso because this is the main attraction of the photo. When you focus on your face, you draw attention away from areas that you may not want to highlight such as stomach, derriere or hips.

The use of makeup can enhance your picture enormously. Wearing a couple of fundamental cosmetics can go a long way toward taking great pictures.

For example:
  • a great mascara is universally flattering—I call it the “Panoramic Lash." It opens the eye and makes you look youthful and alert, and it doesn’t require sophisticated knowledge of color.

  • lipstick and/or gloss will keep your lips looking moist and attractive

  • blusher will make you look fresh, healthy and well-rested
Your hair is your crowning glory and one of your most important accessories. Invest in a good cut and possibly color on a regular basis. Ask your stylist to suggest options for different looks that flatter your face and teach you the techniques to carry them out.

Always condition your hair every time you wash it. Use a deep conditioner occasionally so that your hair is glossy and healthy-looking.

A side-part is universally flattering, and unless you have perfect features, avoid a center part.

For pictures, you might want to try something new. If you regularly wear your hair down, try putting it up; if you wear it wavy, try blowing it out straight.

The Bolder Shoulder is a current trend that that is enormously flattering because it lifts the eye up and draws attention to the star of the show: your face. Creating the Bolder Shoulder is easy: Look for a top with a small shoulder pad not the Dynasty shoulder pad. This is a great look to try because it helps to balance out the hip line.

Purchase dresses or tops with embellishment at the shoulder line—sequins, cut-outs, the cold shoulder (cutouts at the shoulders), a stripe, lace, embroidery, buttons, a scarf, folds that resemble origami, shirring, or anything else that draws the eye up.

Look for a great collar or neckline. This can include a stand-up, bateau or boat-neck collar, a crumb catcher, an architectural look that falls in soft folds or any other look that shows off your creativity and is a little different from the norm.

This is a great place to add color or pattern in your sweater or blouse or with a scarf. The color will reflect back onto your face for a great glow. Great earrings and/or a statement necklace are also options that will bring attention to your face.

Here are some great tips to make sure that your poses rock:

  • Always stand tall with your shoulders back and your head held high so that you minimize your stomach, maximize your height and enhance your posture. Whether you are statuesque or petite, show pride in your stature.

  • Red Carpet Secret: Stand at an angle to the camera with one foot in front of the other. Angles are your friends. They will always make you look great!

  • Photographers’ Secret Ploy: If you want to minimize a less-than-flattering chin or some lines on your face, take your picture lying down on a hassock or armless chair with the camera pointing down at you. That way, gravity is in your favor. You will have an instant and free--if temporary--face-lift.

  • To minimize any “fluff” or fullness in the stomach area, it is best to stand when taking pictures. It is also a modeling trick to pull your stomach in about a second before the shutter snaps.
Dressing Tips: One of the guiding principles is that the taller you look, the thinner you look. Therefore, to look your tallest and most svelte remember:

Monochromes are magical:
  • To look your most slender, wear one color or similar shades of one color head-to-toe in an unbroken line from the shoulder down. This will make you look sleek, chic, sophisticated—and fit!

  • To create the longest, leanest line, pants hems should be as long as possible without dragging on the floor.

  • Hose and shoes should be in the same tone as your pant or skirt to maximize the length of your legs.

  • A shoe with a heel and a somewhat pointed toe extends the leg even farther and makes you look long and lean.
Wear clothing that fits your body as it is today to avoid a “tummy roll.”
  • That means no belts, slacks or skirts that are so tight they create a line or a bulge across your torso because this breaks the smooth line and makes you look shorter and heavier.

  • One way to create the illusion of a more slender waistline is my “triangle secret”--create as many triangles on your torso as possible.

    • Wear a necklace

    • Wear a v-neck top

    • Leave a button or two open on a blouse

    • Wear a jacket or cardigan over a top and button one button in the center. This will create a triangle on top of the button and a triangle below the button.

    • “Wrap” dresses and tops create or enhance your waist and are very flattering.

  • Foundation garments can make your look smooth and sleek. Spanx are not only comfortable but compress the tissue so that there is no overflow.

  • Investing in and wearing the right bra can make you look 10 pounds thinner.

  • Go to a store where they have professional fitters and return at least every six months and possibly more frequently as you lose weight

  • Don’t wear clothing that is tent-like or that that has become too large on you and that you have not had tailored to your current size. You'll only look larger than you are, and you want to show off your hard work. (For more tips on building a wardrobe on a budget while losing weight, read this story.)

  • Clothing that is as sleek and simple as possible will give you the longest lines. This means: Avoid pleats or embellishment on slacks and skirts, avoid pockets or ornamentation anywhere you want to diminish attention, and look for a flat front on skirts and pants.

  • Hems of skirts, capris and dresses should stop at a point on the leg that is narrow. To have the most flattering length wear them at the knee, just above or below the knee or just above or below the center of the calf where your leg is the thinnest to create the optical illusion that the entire leg is slender. Conversely, when you stop the hem at a heavier point on the leg, it will appear that the entire leg is heavier.

  • Matte fabrics make you look thinner than shiny fabrics.

  • Dark fabrics make you look thinner than light fabrics.

  • Stripes can be your best friend if worn the right way. Avoid thick horizontal stripes, and instead look for a single stripe down the side a pants leg (as in workout pants). Search for tops with a stripe across the shoulder or asymmetrical stripes. A single stripe, zipper or scarf that goes straight down the front of your top elongates your torso.
Remember—the most important part of taking pictures is having fun. Your smile, your style and your personality are your MOST IMPORTANT accessories!

Merry Nachemin, L.C.S.W.R. is a Certified Image Consultant, a makeup artist and owner of Extreme Elegance Image Consultants, LLC. She is a graduate of the Image Consulting and Business Management Certificate Programs at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. She has also taught classes in fashion at Wagner College. She has dressed models in the tents in Bryant Park during Fashion Week and worked in the wardrobe department of a major motion picture.

Prior to launching her business as a second career, Merry worked as a clinical and administrative social worker for many years, ultimately becoming an Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Work at New York University, where she earned her master's degree.

Since 2005 she has guided her clients in their quests for career and personal success, blending her knowledge of the human psyche with her passion for fashion, color and style. She knows that our outer appearance is the manifestation of our inner self. You can view her web site at ExtremeEleganceImage.com.

What is your best photo tip? Do you like posing for photos more since losing weight and becoming healthier?

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  • 64
    What a great read, thanks;*) - 12/5/2010   7:18:30 AM
  • K__IERRA123
    Great article! - 8/16/2010   11:27:09 AM
  • 62
    Thank you for the link to the article, "Building a Weight-Loss Wardrobe on a Budget". I really enjoyed that article. I agree in both articles, about the bra. Skimp elsewhere not there. - 8/5/2010   12:44:22 AM
  • EVLOBOS310
    Oddly, even though I do have issues with my weight and hate pictures, this article didn't help me much at all. See, the reason I dislike pictures is because I have bad skin and a really annoying double chin. I've never been able to make either look even okay in a picture - not with makeup or a different camera angle. Even with editing afterward the extra chins always seem to rear their ugly head. Any suggestions for helping with this would be most welcome. - 7/22/2010   11:06:44 AM
  • 60
    Great tips on being ready for the camera...
    but more important is -
    like you said at the beginning of the article -
    Attitude, enthusiasm, and exuberance....
    if all the other things are in order, these three things will still show in the eyes.
    Hopefully we will have them in spades, from all the support here on Sparkpeople.
    Otherwise, no camera can hide it! - 7/19/2010   11:19:39 AM
  • 59
    Bookmarked! Thanks! - 7/19/2010   9:54:00 AM
  • 58
    Thanks for the tips! You don't have to be a super model to want to look your best! - 7/12/2010   9:28:07 PM
  • 57
    Some very helpful tips! I'm not so sure about the laying down part... but I definitely agree with some of the poses, coloring of clothing etc. Thanks! - 7/12/2010   5:52:10 PM
  • 56
    Excellent tips. Definitely bookmarked this.Thank you.

    tT - 7/12/2010   10:50:41 AM
  • 55
    These were all great things that I have not thought about. Thanks for the info. - 7/11/2010   10:13:52 PM
  • CORA1983
    that was great!! - 7/11/2010   8:36:42 PM
  • 53
    I have bookmarked this article for a reminder. - 7/11/2010   5:07:17 PM
    Good advice! Thanks!!! - 7/11/2010   1:43:58 PM
  • 51
    This is definitely an article I need to file and keep. I hate taking pictures. My dutch nose gets in the way. My hair never looks right. I shrink every time I see a camera pointed at me. I love the tips and will try very hard to incorporate them at my next photo expo :) Thanks Sparkenista! You're the best. - 7/11/2010   12:43:03 PM
  • 50
    Best tips I've seen for photos. I always hide from the camera, but I will try these tips and see how my pics turn out! - 7/11/2010   10:05:40 AM
  • 49
    I love it! Since I had my children I shy away from "picture taking time". Which is ironic because now everyone expects an annual family picture of us. I will incorporate all of these helpful hints. Thank you!

    Anne Sylvia - 7/11/2010   8:34:54 AM
  • 48
    Unless you are under 30, it's usually a mistake to have your hands near your face - propping up chin, for example. Hard to disguise the ageing of hands, no need to draw such close attention to them. - 7/11/2010   4:17:04 AM
  • 47
    Actually, this was extremely helpful. I knew about the 1 color, long line thing, and about the stockings and shoes. But even if it is 'cheating' I like the lying down or shooting from above idea. Sometimes I'd like to take advantage of a little 'insider' information. I've always been kind of a 'natural' girl-take me as you find me. But sometimes when I look at the photos... I really have a hard time distinguishing why one might look so much better than others when all other criteria (clothes, makeup, etc) seem to be the same. I have resisted 'foundation' garments since , well for a very long time. When I was 16 and had a near perfect body I remember my older sister squeezing me into a waist cincher...and I let her do it! Then 'back in the day' I was in a nursing program that was close to being in the convent. One of the wisdoms of the day was that wearing a girdle would help your back ( I don't understand, didn't they know about strengthening abdominal muscles back then?). So there were all were, most of us in thigh long girdles, omg, I never want to be restrained like that again. But, the woman is talking about taking optimal photos. Whenever I balk at makeup, garments, hair etc., I think of Dustin Hoffman's character in - senior moment- was it Dolly? - and what he went through just to get/keep a job. I often used that thought as motivation when I don't want to get out of bed early enough to really prep myself for the day, but want to wait until the last minute, roll out, and run for it with just the basics of face wash and teeth scrub. Well, there you are...by the way, thanks for the hints! - 7/10/2010   11:22:16 AM
  • 46
    Great tips. - 7/10/2010   9:06:16 AM
  • 45
    cool - 7/10/2010   8:49:00 AM
    I'm sure this is good advice. That said:
    - Apparently the 80's are back. (Shoulder pads [even if they aren't "Dynasty"]? Cutouts? Triangles?) Ugh.
    - More importantly, I'm disappointed to hear Spark talking about how to fake this stuff - Spanx, laying down for an instant face lift, etc.
    - I'm with VANESSASWORLD, UDGREEN, SASSI_SPRING, and ZSAZSAJANNY here - disappointed. I won't repeat everyone's comments, but I agree. Not to mention HLTHYETER who's right, you did completely leave out the guys. (I know they're not supposed to care, but come on, you know everyone does, guys just don't always show it as much.) - 7/10/2010   8:13:26 AM
  • 43
    I love the tips. Anything will help. - 7/10/2010   1:25:24 AM
  • 42
    Great tips - I'll definitely try a few of them, because I currently HATE the way I look in pics :o/ - 7/10/2010   12:31:05 AM
  • 41
    Great tips. I usually just crop out my bottom half in digital photos!! - 7/9/2010   11:05:23 PM
  • 40
    I usually don't have anyone around to take pictures of me. I'd love some tips on how to take good self portraits using the timer function on my camera. - 7/9/2010   10:28:44 PM
  • 39
    Thanks...great article! - 7/9/2010   10:10:02 PM
  • 38
    GREAT article! "Dynasty" shoulder pads. LOL! - 7/9/2010   8:58:48 PM
  • FOX2566
    These tips (assuming I apply them!) will definitely make me more photogenic! My self esteem will be buoyed by knowing how to look better in pics. Thanks! - 7/9/2010   8:39:51 PM
  • 36
    This was one of the most concise articles I have ever read about camouflage. I am saving it to my hard drive and will re-read it as needed. Thanks for excellent, no-nonsense tips all in one place. - 7/9/2010   6:33:46 PM
  • 35
    I read this one for a lark (and points, I might add) and would be exhausted if I had to think of all these things when I was going to have my picture taken. I think I'll fall back on wearing a favorite outfit and a smile! - 7/9/2010   5:32:49 PM
  • 34
    great tips. I usually do try to position myself. my problem is a double chin, so I try to stretch my neck up a bit, and it works. just don't tilt your head back. - 7/9/2010   4:59:07 PM
  • 33
    Great tips, another trick is to stand with your back leg supporting your weight. Your front leg (the angles mentioned) is weightless. That pulls your stomach over your hips and keeps you looking together and not broken by the belt or waist line. - 7/9/2010   4:39:27 PM
    I agree with UDGREEN & SASSI_SPRING. This article was disappointing to put it nicely & quite possibly the most shallow thing I've ever seen on SP. Honestly, if I was that focused on my looks & that particular aspect of this journey, I would be browsing the website for any women's magazine for these "tips" not hanging around on SP. - 7/9/2010   4:23:38 PM
  • 31
    This is one for my favorites! Thanks!

    - 7/9/2010   2:14:37 PM
  • 30
    I never thjought of positioning myself differently either--I usually hide behind someone's body--Good tips! - 7/9/2010   2:08:40 PM
    Very good tips! Thank you! - 7/9/2010   2:01:54 PM
  • 28
    Thank you so much for these great tips. - 7/9/2010   12:11:30 PM
    Thanks for sharing these great tips! :o) - 7/9/2010   11:53:10 AM
    I like it - and thanks for the length of the pant tip about not hitting the heaviest part of the leg! - 7/9/2010   11:26:47 AM
  • 25
    Oddly enough, I do like having my photo taken now that I've lost the weight ! When I was overweight, I hated having my photo taken and I was more likely to hide in the back where I couldn't be seen.

    These days, like Madonna, I'll strike a pose !!! LOL !!! - 7/9/2010   10:02:20 AM
  • 24
    Tip: Smile! Look at the camera like a friend or loved one. - 7/9/2010   9:48:17 AM
  • 23
    Two more great-photo tips: Pull your neck up tall, then stick your chin out slightly (not up or down, just out) and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth - This eliminates (or at least greatly reduces) a double-chin in photos! Plus, smile bigger and wider -and open your eyes wider - than you want to. By the time the camera captures the moment, it will have softened to a natural and beautiful smile! - 7/9/2010   9:25:42 AM
  • 22
    How about some tips for the guys--we are on here too! - 7/9/2010   8:49:37 AM
  • 21
    One thing I love about SP is the variety of information/advice/points of view offered!

    I don't wear makeup myself, or color my hair, but for those who do, how cool to have some basic reminders on some reasons the procedures are useful. And it helps me see what my students may be trying to achieve (even if they tend to overdo it) so that if they ask for suggestions (before going to interviews) at least I won't sound a total gump.

    Best of all was the advice about "attitude, enthusiasm and exuberance"--for those of us who prefer to take the pics (because then we don't have to be in the pics) it's a very, very good reminder. - 7/9/2010   8:30:13 AM
  • 20
    I loved all the tips. Thanks for sharing. - 7/9/2010   8:29:28 AM
  • 19
    I ALWAYS hated pictures of me. After losing 100lb. though, I still saw myself as a 2X when I'm wearing a size 8. I had an opportunity for a photo shoot. Hair & make-up was done for me and I was "styled."
    It truly helped me to see the new me. I could look objectively at the pictures. I highly recommend it to everyone!
    One of the pictures is my profile pic now:D - 7/9/2010   7:36:19 AM
  • 18
    Loved this article, lots of good ideas and points to follow, thanks, - 7/9/2010   5:47:24 AM
  • 17
    I'm really disappointed in this article on many levels, as I expected something different and not makeup and pose tips. I thought it would have tips on being natural, being yourself and tips on how to feel comfortable in front of the camera. I guess I was on a different page with it all. Ah well. - 7/9/2010   3:21:52 AM
  • 16
    This was fantastic. Thanks - 7/9/2010   2:22:34 AM
  • 15
    good suggestions... i have to get a mom dress for a wedding - 7/8/2010   10:23:04 PM

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