From the pros in the know.
Let's start this with some very wise words from body confidence influencer, Alex Light, who I asked for advice for this piece: "You're good as you are!" You don't need to do anything to make yourself look better, because you're pretty smashing already. So, if you awkward smile your way through photos, who the hell cares? It's adorable.
That said, if you feel gawky and tense whenever you're in photos, you're not alone. A mate of mine with an upcoming wedding confided she was dreading the pictures. "I already know I won't like them," she told me. "I always look so uncomfortable! I hate it."
So for those of us who've heard other folk speak of angles and poses but still feel in the dark, here's some pro advice on little tricks we can do to unleash our inner Zoolander.
"Light is probably the most important thing in a photo," says model Emily DiDonato in her YouTube video: How To Look Good In Every Photo. So much so, that some photographers will only shoot at sunrise or sunset (also known as golden hour) to get the haziest, sunlit background. "Soft, natural, diffused lighting is best," says Alex. "Direct lighting can be harsh, so if you're out and about when the sun is low in the sky (a couple of hours before sunset and a couple of hours after sunrise), that's the best time to grab a snap, as the light won't create contrasting shadows."
We asked top street style photographer, David Nyanzi for his professional advice. "My no-gos for lighting are shooting in direct sunlight or, for artificial light, is using a very bright direct flash. The best time for daylight is 9am," he says.
As for evening snaps taken at bars or restaurants, Alex recommends avoiding sitting directly under overhead bulbs as "they can create harsh shadows over the skin."
If you're shooting a picture for someone else, or you're getting a mate to take one for you, "the best angle is from below and shooting upwards for a full body shot and face-on for portraits, standing straight on," recommends David.
For full-length body shots, David advises turning at a slight angle, while Alex lets us in on a well-known influencer trick for elongating legs. "They tend to take the photo with an upwards angle and they also tend to cross their legs to further elongate."
The number one piece of advice from both our pros if you struggle with feeling awkward and don't know what to do with your hands, is to keep yourself busy. For candid street style shots, "the best poses are usually; hand in pockets, ear tuck, hand rub looking sideways, sleeve fix movement looking down, or a pretend walk sideways," says David.
"A glass is also a great prop so grab a cocktail!" says Alex. "You can also put your hands on your waist or on your hips if you don't have a prop to hand, or you can rest your chin on one hand."
As for awkward smiles, "it's super difficult to avoid looking forced in a photo that, let's face it, probably feels forced," says Alex. "Try to relax your face muscles and unclench your jaw before giving your most natural smile a go." In her video, Emily also recommends raising your brows ever so slightly to open up your eyes.
Angles-wise, "look normal, like in a passport photo, and turn slightly sideways," says David. Or, "if you’re looking straight forward, tilt your head just slightly upwards to avoid a double chin."
But remember, our dorkiness, short legs, rolls or whatever else it might be, are all what make us beautiful, which leads Alex onto her most important piece of advice: "You don't actually need to do any of this." If it helps you feel more confident and comfortable, go for it, but really, forget the lens and just do you, you'll look glorious whichever way.
This originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK | Elle Turner