Women’s visibility issues can show up in dozens of ways. Some ways are incredibly subtle. Others are far more overt.
If you are looking to witness one of the more obvious examples, grab a camera and start snapping away in a corporate environment.
I had the opportunity to watch exactly this play out recently at my ‘day job’. A colleague needed photos for a PR exercise and thought she would approach a group of female co-workers for some ‘day in the life’ shots.
I’ve never seen a group of women dissipate so quickly. One minute they were there and the next they were literally gone. And they were all muttering words that suggested they hated having their photos taken and that they didn’t want to be captured ‘like this’ forever.
There will always be a percentage of women who are comfortable around the camera (hello to those of you who adore selfies). However, as a rule, I’ve noticed that corporate women tend to dislike being photographed.
Me being me, I’ve explored this phenomenon with women over the years. You won’t be surprised to learn that the reasons for the reluctance are many and varied.
But at their heart, most of these reasons boil down to the fact that the finished products – the actual photos – make us feel bad. Our inner critics take one look at shots and start pointing out perceived problem after perceived problem. And it’s way easier to avoid the camera than it is to beat yourself up for all of your presumed faults.
I know that’s how it was for me. For years I managed escape the camera’s lens, despite living with a man who loves photography. I was absolutely convinced the camera despised me as much as I came to hate it.
One day though I came to understand that I was telling myself a story. How did I work this out? Because I realised that every now and then someone would take a photo of me that I did like. Which got me to thinking that if I could take one photo that I thought was decent, I could work out how to take more.
And it turns out you can actually learn how increase your chances of getting a photo you like.
Now I’m not saying I’ve managed to completely silence my inner critic. There was a photo of me on social media earlier this year that had her squealing at the top of her voice. But these days I’m ok with having my picture taken because I’ve learned some of the secrets of looking better in photos.
My Top Tips For Looking Better In Photos
Ears Forward Chin Down
For years and years, someone who is very close to me and who also has a magical love affair with the camera had been telling me to put my chin ‘out and down’ every time a photographer was in the vicinity. And I, of course, had absolute no idea what she was talking about. Honestly, how can you put your chin out and down at the same time? The notion was beyond me.
Later I heard a portrait photographer use the phrase ‘neck out, chin down’. But it was only when I discovered the idea of ‘ears forward, chin down’ somewhere on the internet that I finally stopped looking like a confused turtle in photos.
You see, all these terms are effectively giving you the same advice. If you want your jawline to look defined in images, you need to understand what the camera is seeing. Basically, the camera accentuates whatever is closest to it. Pop your chin out or up while the shot is being taken, and all you’ll see is double chins in the resultant picture (even if you don’t have a double chin). By stretching your neck forward or by leaning your ears towards the camera and at the same time pointing your chin down, your eyes will be on the first plane the camera sees.
Sort Out What’s Going On With Your Eyes
For such a long time, I’d only agree to having my photograph taken if I could insist on wearing sunglasses. (As you can imagine, that wasn’t the most practical request for every occasion. Particularly those times when someone want to take a shot inside. At night. You get what I’m taking about.)
The problem was, my eyes always looked wrong in photos. Mainly due to the fact that you could see too much of the white in my eyes. In addition to that scared turtle thing I had going on, I also looked like a deer in the headlights. At best. And I don’t want to scare you with thoughts of what things looked like ‘at worst’.
I don’t know who told us, but apparently most of us believe that we need to be all ‘wide eyed’ in photos. Personally, I think it has something to do with either trying not to blink or buying into that whole ‘wide eyed beauty thing’. Regardless, big goggle eyes do not a fabulous photo make. Especially after we’ve gone to all the trouble of leaning our ears forward to put our eyes on show.
Now you might have all learned about both these terms but I’d certainly missed the memo.
In simple terms, these concepts refer to bringing your smile to your eyes. Squinting just a little cuts down the seeable white in your eyes. It turns out that with a little practice, you can get very good at smiling with your eyes without exposing the world to all of your teeth! Arguably an asset I’d suggest.
Think About Your Posture
At the risk of sounding like your mother while you were growing up, make sure that you stand or sit up straight in your shots. Improving your posture can slenderise you in photos and it certainly makes your clothes hang better. Let’s face it, no one looks great when they are slouching.
Practice Practice Practice
Then practice some more. Like most things in life, our skills improve as our experience increases. This rule applies whether you are roasting a chicken, speaking in public or parallel parking. And it certainly helps when it comes to looking better in photos. Stop running away from the camera and learn to love it. Take selfies. Get your partner, your kids or your friends to take shots of you. I promise you will quickly start to see an improvement.
Practicing also helps you to determine your ‘best side’, which for most of us is a real thing, primarily due to the fact that faces are generally asymmetrical. And it assists in sorting out some of the little things, like which lip colours work on you and whether you should wear your hair forward or back.
Are you a fan of having your picture taken? Have you been on a journey to learn the secrets of looking better in photos? Or are you one of the vast majority who run a mile when they see a camera? No matter your answer, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.