10 Tips to Looking Absolutely Beautiful in Your Photos

A few days ago, I posted a new profile picture to Facebook.

Within the first 5 minutes of posting, I got 1, 3, 5, 10 likes and within just a few hours, my photo got over 100 likes and nearly 30 comments.  Comments poured in that read: “beautiful!, “gorgeous!, stunning!” I was floored, then I became intrigued. What was it about my profile picture and pictures in general that generate such a high response from our friends and colleagues? I noticed this same phenomenon when a recent photo client of mine posted her headshots.  Here she is:

Isn’t she amazing?!

Her photo got just about 100 likes and 16 comments. And that’s not counting the response she got when she posted to LinkedIn.

While posting a great photo is not all about the Likes and comments (even though we all like a healthy ego boost from time to time), it’s about showing the world who you truly are with a photo that you are proud to show off. It’s not often we get a photo of ourselves that truly captures our unique essence and personality, all while making us feel gawgeous!

I’ve been shooting portraits of women for 7 years now and there’s a some things I learned that help  makes us feel truly beautiful in front of the camera. Some of which I practice when I have my own photograph taken.

So I put together my top 10 best tips for looking absolutely beautiful in your photos. Whether you’re photographing for a headshot or a ‘just because’ shot, here are some ways to take a gorgeous photo.

Tip #1 – Don’t take yourself too seriously.  This is #1 when it comes to photo taking. Most of us go through life putting out fires, running a business, juggling a career, home, and family without dropping the ball yet we can still be a bit harsh on ourselves. Let being in front of the camera be your time to decompress and take the edge off. We’re not looking for perfection here, we just want you to be you; imperfectly, perfect. I typically have my clients do a few silly face shots as warm-ups before we start.  You may want to try this help loosen up a little and have a little fun with yourself. You’d be amazed at how your body begins to ease and any nervousness or tension you might be feeling melts away.

Darcy Rogers for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #2 – Wear something that makes you feel absolutely amazing. You know that favorite piece you’ve got hanging up in the closet? The one that fits in all the right places and when you wear it you get compliments everywhere you go? Yeah, that one.  No need to break the bank and buy a new outfit. Sometimes a simple great fitting t-shirt paired with a chic blazer or colorful necklace is all you need. Of course you want to look your best but when you feel good, you naturally look good. Always go for what makes you feel good.

Paula Edgar for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #3 – Pick a location that makes you feel free. I typically love to shoot in areas near the water. This is because I love to be near water; being near it makes me feel calm and deeply connected to nature. I also love shooting in alleyways and gritty city streets – go figure. The point is, choose a place that you feel most connected to. Think about places that energize you and make you feel inspired and creative because you see all the possibilities for ways to freely express yourself in your photos. The best way to find a location like this is to start with what you love. Do you enjoy nature? Or do you prefer the busyness of the city? Do you like indoors verses outdoors? Do you like art and color? Maybe it’s some combination of these. Play with different locations that awaken your senses.

Rachel Tanenbaum for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #4 – Lose yourself. To eliminate distractions, mentally bring yourself to a place where you can just lose yourself in the moment. Imagine that all of the background of distractions and even the internal mind chatter just simply fade away. Allow yourself to show up in front of the camera and let your whole self be seen. Pretend that it's just you and the camera and that's all that matters. This practice of losing yourself works great if you have a hard time not caring about what other people think. Being in front of the camera is a good place to practice letting yourself be free. People will watch; let them watch. People will judge; let them judge. Don’t let what other people think stop you from being who you are which is absolutely beautiful.

Melissa Gluck for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #6 – Don’t forget to breathe. I always notice the subtle queues when the person I am photographing seems a bit “off”. The shoulders tense up, the eyebrows become furrowed, and the body becomes stiff. Sometimes we get nervous about how the pictures will turn out or we start to doubt ourselves. In other words, we get in our heads. It’s very common when we’re in front of the camera or any sort of spotlight of attention and we usually don’t notice when this happens. If you feel your body tensing up, you can silently whisper a few times to yourself , “remember to breathe”. Literally, stop and take a few rounds of deep nourishing inhales to fill your lungs and exhales to clear out. When you flood the brain and the body with fresh air, it relaxes the muscles, reduces anxiety and tension, and replenishes life energy.

Alison Richard for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #5 – Be Your Best Self. True beauty comes from beyond the skin; it goes way past what we see on the surface. Connect with that place deep within where you feel the most beautiful in mind, body, and spirit. Your strength, power, and confidence can be found there and that is what will be revealed in your photos. It's not so much about what you are wearing. It’s about truly honoring your authenticity and having the freedom of creative, self-expression.

Emma Viglucci for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #7 – Pamper yourself. We can get easily caught up with tending to others needs and completely forget about ourselves. Give yourself permission go the extra mile to look and feel beautiful. Get your hair and makeup done! Treat yourself to a new outfit if you want to or wear that lovely outfit in your closet that makes you feel like a million bucks. Most women treat themselves like goddesses on the day of their wedding. But why wait until then? We should be treating ourselves well everyday of the calendar year but particularly when we're about to get in front of the camera, it's all about you. This is your moment – celebrate it, celebrate you! You deserve it.

Colie McClellan for Project#SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #8 – Work your assets. Now this is a tough one for many people especially if we have body image issues. A lot of women fall into this category and I’m definitely guilty of being self-critical of my body at times. We tend to lock in on our imperfections and totally ignore our best features. Hear me when I say: don’t make it about what you weigh or what your thighs or upper arms do. We all have something amazing about us to contribute. Whether it’s a rockstar smile, awesome hair, a unique sense of style, or a fun-loving, carefree energy. These are the things I look for when I take pictures or what I try to focus on when I am in front of the camera. Don’t make it be all about your physical body and forget about the other parts that make you whole. Learn to see your true self with your heart, not just your eyes.

Emily Fagerholm for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #9 – Bring out the fake laugh. When we see a person laughing in a photograph, it also makes us smile.  It allows us to see happiness personified which is the greatest gift. I love asking my clients to fake laugh. I usually get the “huh?” look when I ask them to do it for the camera but it all makes sense when they see their photos afterwards. Fake laughing feels super weird while doing it especially if there is nothing to laugh at but go with it anyway. Plus when you’re fake laughing, you feel so silly that you end up really laughing. You'll end up with photos that look like you're having the time of your life.

Sonya Spann for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

Tip #10 – Use your eyes to tell your story. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Nothing creates a more deeply engaging connection and reveals the soul better than true eye contact. A great example is the infamous Afghan Girl portrait taken in 1984 by journalist Steve McCurry. What made this photograph so popular was the deep penetrating eyes of the girl in the photograph. They were captivating and told a personal story. This is the power that the eyes hold; when words aren’t enough, you communicate through the eyes. When you pose to take a beautiful photo, challenge yourself to make eye contact with the camera that goes beyond the lens and connects with the soul of the viewer. Think about what you want your eyes to say about you. Confident? Warm? Driven? Use your eyes to tell your story.

Latham Thomas for Project #SheWentForHerDreams

And there you have it! My top 10 tips to photographing beautifully. What would you add? What makes you feel beautiful? Share in the comments below.