So you’re an overachiever, and you want to be prepared for your photo shoot? I’ve got a few tips to help you look better and feel more confident.

To demonstrate, I enlisted the help of Eleanor from Nuage Designs. Eleanor might be gorgeous, but she is a real person. (ie. not a model), so she was a great person to help me demonstrate all these concepts.

1. Get your hair and makeup professionally done. There’s a reason why stars travel with hair and makeup people: the pros know how to accentuate your best features and make you look awesome. A good hair and makeup person will make you look a little more polished and refined than your normal look, and they know exactly how much extra makeup looks good on camera without looking too done. In this case, the most awesome Scoobie West did Eleanor’s hair and makeup. She’s super pretty even in the before picture, but AFTER: stunning. BeforeMakeupDuringMakeupAfterMakeup

(If you still want to do your own hair and makeup, that’s cool, just remember that you’ll need a little extra oomph over your everyday look.

2. Tell your photographer what you want to play up and what you want to minimize. Look, we all have areas we’re sensitive about. So tell me at the beginning of a session what you feel your best features are and what you don’t love so much, so I can pay special attention to that as we shoot. And I know it’s not easy: sharing info about what we don’t like about ourselves isn’t really comfortable. But don’t assume I’ll know, either … I’ve done a session with many a girl whose tummy or legs or arms I envied, only to find out that’s a part she wants to hide!

3. Wear clothing that plays to your strengths. If you don’t like your arms, don’t wear a sleeveless or strapless dress without a cover-up. If you love your legs, wear a skirt instead of pants. Don’t hide behind shapeless clothing, but try to find garments that fit well and show the shape of your body.

Need help? Check out this article on How to Dress For Your Body Type.Tip: Well clothing that fits and shows off your shape

4. Keep your body at a 45 degree angle from the camera. I always say “everyone looks better from the side”. When your body faces the camera directly, you’re showing the widest part of your body. If you turn to the side (not profile, but half way between), you’re showing me your shape… your waist looks slimmer.Posing tip: stand at 45 degrees to the camera

5. Keep your arms away from your body. There’s a reason stars on the red carpet always put a hand on their hip. When your arms lay against your body, they spread out and look bigger.Posing tip: keeps arms away from your body

6. Think: CURVES. In a photo, straight lines are blah. Photographers have a saying: “If it bends, bend it.” because curves are flattering. And this includes your WAIST, too. Create curves for yourself by putting your weight on one leg, and bending the other leg so your waist curves. This accentuates your waist, and by the way, looks sexy.Bendit

7. Keep your Neck Long. While we all have things we like about ourselves more than others, I’ve never heard anyone say “That double chin looks hot!” You’ll feel and see the difference if you focus on making your neck as long as it can go. That DOESN’T mean lifting your chin up, though. Try to make your neck long but not see UNDER your chin. Think of a string lifting you up tall from the top of your head. Which helps your overall posture too. Which brings me to…JHS_3927

8. Good posture matters.  Keep your shoulders down and back, stand tall, with your tummy in. This has a great effect on your entire body. Your clothes will look better on you and create long, smooth lines. Just like your neck, think long and tall, from head to toe. And when you feel tall and lifted and strong, it can make you feel a little more confident, too!Posture matters

9. Toes: Point em! The image in #8 above illustrates this point too. Pointing your toes elongates the line of your leg and makes your calves look great, even in pants.

10. Smile with your eyes. There’s a reason Tyra says that all the time. The camera knows  the difference between a fake smile and a real one. I noticed that the best pictures of me were always taken by my boyfriend, because when he was taking the picture I was looking at the camera (okay, him and his iphone) with love in my eyes. You can fake a smile, but you can’t fake HAPPY. Try thinking about happy, exciting thoughts… maybe how you’ll feel when you’re finally sitting on the beach with a fruity drink on your honeymoon. Or remember a time you felt really proud of yourself, or think about what makes you sexy and confident. Look at how the look on Eleanor’s face changes EVEN WHEN SHE’S NOT LOOKING AT THE CAMERA. Happiness is pretty. Confidence is pretty.photo tip: smile with your eyes photo tip: smile with your eyes photo tip: smile with your eyes

11. Appreciate your own beauty.  That means having realistic expectations of how you look. We tend to hold ourselves up to an unrealistic standard of beauty, because we see it on TV and in movies and magazines every day, and it’s easy to get caught up in that. We compare ourselves to people who make a living by looking good. That’s a full-time job, which can mean crazy workouts, plastic surgery, restrictive diets and lots of photoshop. Even the beautiful people get smoothed, slimmed, lifted, de-wrinkled, and distorted into an unrealistically perfect state. (Check out this article on how even people who are “professionally pretty” get photoshop help to look that way and we compare our normal-body-normal-job-straight-out-of-the-camera looks to that. But the truth is, we’re all beautiful in our own special, unique way, and when you feel that, it comes through in the camera. So forget about anyone else and appreciate your own awesome self.JHS_4273

12. Be yourself. If you’re silly and laugh a lot, don’t try to be serious. If you usually chill, be chill. Let the real you shine.JHS_4276JHS_3911 JHS_3909

13. RELAX, and BREATHE. Just like a wild animal, the camera can smell fear. So now that you’ve read and practiced Tips 1-13, when you get to your session, you can relax and just be yourself.  If you don’t remember everything, don’t sweat it. It’s my job to watch out for all this stuff, not yours. Your job is to enjoy the session and have fun. I always say “You can’t take a bad photo of someone who is genuinely happy”. Be happy, and the camera will too.JHS_4297