How to Look Thinner (and Prettier) in Photos

Show the camera who's boss.
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Michelle Villett
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Show the camera who's boss.
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There's nothing like a professional photo shoot to make you realize just how many Botox, teeth-whitening and spinning sessions you really need.

I'm serious. The camera has this uncanny ability to pick up flaws you didn't even know were there and it's all rather horrifying.

This was the case yesterday when I had to arrange an unplanned, emergency photo session for a magazine that required something a little more professional than my stable of Facebook profile shots. (Surprising, I know.)

In the end, we got a shot of my mug that I was semi-happy with—but MAN, I wish I'd been better prepared. So today I want to share with you a few lessons learned... so you can do as I say, not as I do.

Lesson 1: Get your hair fixed.

As you'll see when I post those Clairol before and after shots I keep droning on about—hair is the one thing that can make or break your appearance.

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So I can't advise this enough: if you're getting your photo taken, get your hair done.

OF COURSE the timing for my shoot came along when I was desperately in need of a bang trim, so I paid my main man Bill Angst a visit yesterday to get fixed up (Sienna-style).

And then I learned...

Lesson 2: Fix your colour, if it needs fixing.

If you dye your hair a lighter colour, you know all about how photos can bring out this insane level of darkness at the top of your crown, which makes it look like you're putting blonde highlights in black hair or something. (AMIRITE?)

Then there's the opposite problem of lighter hair (or greys) poking through darker hair. Neither problem is a good one to have—and Lordy, I just KNEW the first one applied to me yesterday. (Bill told me so as well.)

Thankfully, Jeff at Angst whipped out a tub of hair dye and proceeded to do the fastest balyage job in history, just painting a few strands at the top of my head. Cheaper than a full colour job and all I needed, really, to make my colour look great for the photos.

Lesson 3: When styling your hair, please don't try anything new.

Now is not the time to experiment with curls, or what have you, if you don't normally wear your hair that way. (This is why I don't love my 2009 headshot—my hair's super-curly and it just doesn't look like me.)

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So yes, get your hair blown out, but ask them to stick with your usual style.

Lesson 4: It wouldn't hurt to whip out the Whitestrips.

And here's where things started to go wrong for me, folks.

I totally forgot to do this—and although Photoshop works miracles these days, I think it's always nicer to do less, not more retouching. So do what you can to whiten your teeth in the week or two leading up to your photo sesh!

Lesson 5: Wear more makeup than you think you need.

Considering I own enough makeup to open up my own Sephora, do you think I applied anywhere near enough on for my photo? Of course not. (Granted, I only had about 15 minutes to do face and wardrobe, which in retrospect, was sort of pushing it when you're as vain as I am.)

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Anyway! I would suggest dialing it WAY up on the eye makeup (it really won't show up), and making sure you have a healthy glow with lots of blush and/or bronzer. Wear lipstick or gloss with a bit of colour in it too.

I neglected to pile it on, so I look woefully pale and pasty in my shots. Boo.

Lesson 6: Wear something you feel like a million bucks in.

I did not do this either, which is why I won't be using any of the full-body shots we took yesterday. You can just TELL I'm not comfortable in what I'm wearing—so my advice is to make sure what you put on is consistent with the image you want to project. (My outfit was saying: I've gained a few EL-BEES this summer.)

Solid colours are best—and now would be a great time to refer to the Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter colour chart, which some people think is very '80s but which I believe stands the test of time. I'm kicking myself for not wearing a bold red or blue (even though I rarely wear those colours in real life.)

Lesson 7: Make sure your photographer shoots you from above, not below.

This is because when your face is higher than the camera, it will appear fuller. I don't need to tell you why this is a bad move (double-chins, anyone?).

In contrast, when the photographer is higher than you are (if you're shooting on some steps, say), your chin is down and it does all sorts of lovely things like make your eyes stand out (as well as your boobs).

Lesson 8: Squint your eyes and tilt your hips.

I picked up these tricks last year from Look-A-Like photographer Richard Sibbald and they are simply AWESOME. The eye-squinty thing prevents that deer-in-headlights effect, and the hip-tilting will make you look skinny. (See? I promised I'd tell you how to look skinny.)

Watch the vid for the deets:

Lesson 9: In a pinch, hand cream works as hair gel.

The biggest reason my photo session was nearly a big fat FAIL was because it rained on us. Hard.

And then my $80 balyage 'n blow-dry went down the tubes. I was all frizzy.

Luckily, I went all MacGyver and pulled out my hand lotion—if you rub a dime-sized amount together between your palms, you can use it to smooth out the frizzy bits. Wouldn't do it on a normal day, but this was an emergency!

So, girls—

Do you like getting your photo taken? (I LOATHE it.)
What have been your worst photo fails?
Do you have a favourite one of yourself—and if so, how'd YOU score it? (My best ones usually involve alcohol.)