Model Mondays: 7 Tips to avoid Stiff and Stale Photos

Whenever taking photos it is easy to feel awkward. Even with lots of experience it never completely goes away. Sometimes it is because of a bad hair day or bloating or some other personal concern or sometimes environment so you end up posing in one way that you know  works for you... but then you never move. The result is a stiff and stale photo.

Perhaps my first memories of this is when I was maybe 13 and had started experimenting with serious face over smiling in photos. Perhaps those who have read my blog before will remember me saying I absolutely hate my smile. So it goes without saying that as soon as I had enough personal autonomy to decide my poses I started going for no smiles. The problem was, the no smile, wistful and serene expression I had perfected alone in my bedroom translated into a bored awkward pre teen on camera. I think I remember the photographer gently pushing for a different look but I thought it was because she wanted a smile cause smiles sell pictures to parents and I was dead set on having a serious shot not another smiling shot. And because I remained so motionless, the photos just got worse and worse.

Did I mention I also had braces?Not normal braces either, what I had more closely resembled metal rings hammered onto all my incisors then wired with wire under so much pressure that one time it came out and hit my inside cheek with such force that it shook me awake from a dead sleep and filled my mouth with blood. I had to physically hold the wire to keep from further injury until we could get back to the orthodontist.  Anyways, the point is the photos were all terrible and a large part of it was to due to my lack of moving and perhaps to teenage angst. To keep this from happening to you, below are some tips to keep your body and face fresh.


1- Keep Moving: This doesn't mean go from sitting to standing to kneeling but rather to pick a pose then try several looks with one pose. Look up, look down, smile, be serious, bring up a hand, touch your hair, shift weight back and forth. Create a variation of a theme

2- If it bends, bend it: Keeping your arms or legs locked will almost guarantee a stiff looking photo. Try not to lock your joints and keep them soft and fluid. Same with your neck, a slight tilt will give you a more relaxed appearance.

3-   No up the nose: When giving different angles for the face be careful to not tilt your head to far up. A little is fine but up the nose is not the most flattering. The photographer will likely give you notes on this, but be sure to be gracious and apply them or they may not tell you next time.

4- Lean back: Especially for women, to lean back on the back leg and sit a bit will extenuate the S curve and give you a much more flattering shot.

5- Pose in an Angle: Like if it bends, bend it to keep you looking relaxed, being at an angle also will help you achieve a more relaxed pose, and again will improve the S curve. 

6- Look Away: Avoid direct eye contact with camera unless you are wanting a severe shot. Looking down or slightly off camera is much more flattering. But do not look so far off that your eyes are only whites.

7- Pufferfish: The face can look drawn and tired very quickly in photoshoots. To avoid a stale face fill your cheeks with hair and push out, move your mouth around, blink, squint, have a minor stroke then go back to shooting. You can also laugh, talk, smile get a drink of water. 


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About Author: Lauren is an international bellydancer who hails from classical dance. Besides belly dance she also performs Bollywood, hula, samba, salsa and ballet. Currently she is based out of South Florida  but she is available for bookings in performance and instruction internationally.  When she isn't busy performing she is working on her Ph.D. in Anthropology at University of Florida.