Getting your picture taken? How to look skinny and hot

Kate Moss holding camera

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.

sienna miller bangs 225x300 Getting your picture taken? How to look skinny and hotAs 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.

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.

T3 Hairdryer 300x300 Getting your picture taken? How to look skinny and hotNow 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.)

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.

Elizabeth Arden cream blush Getting your picture taken? How to look skinny and hotConsidering 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.)

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.)


Thursday, August 26/2010 at 1:20 pm

Umm… You’ve posted some photos of yourself, and as far as I can see, you ARE skinny and hot already.
On the bright side, it’s nice to see that skinny, hot people sometimes suffer and worry about their photos too!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 26/2010 at 1:38 pm

Sandra I love you! Thanks – it’s a hazard of the job to be super self-critical when you’re in this industry. (But I really am too vain to post the bad frizz/body shots so you can decide for yourself – ha!)
Anyway—it’s amazing what the camera picks up that you don’t see when you look in the mirror. I guess that’s more my point here… preparation is everything!


marissa bushe
Thursday, August 26/2010 at 5:42 pm

Fantastic tips! Thanks so much – great photo as well!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, August 30/2010 at 9:28 am

My pleasure!


Thursday, August 26/2010 at 6:02 pm

I think you’ve sized up your situation accurately. You have to step back from time to time and realize not only have the magazine cover models had make-up and hair styles professionally applied, but they’ve also been airbrushed and photo-shopped almost beyond recognition.
I had an epiphany in the 90′s when I saw a magazine cover of someone who looked familiar- vaguely like Sarah Michelle Gellar. Then I realized that it WAS Sarah Michelle Gellar, but so done over it was hard to recognize her. If you apply hard, critical thinking and don’t allow yourself to get sucked in by the deliberate image manipulation, you can come to realize that actresses NEVER look as good in film as they do on magazine covers.
You can take a substandard photo of yourself, and if you know a thing or two about photo-shop, can change it to nearly anything you want.
The professionals do this everyday.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, August 30/2010 at 9:31 am

So true – thanks for the great perspective Sandra. And let’s not forget about the plastic surgeries… most of the actresses in Hollywood these days would like us to think they just happened to be born that good-looking, but it’s simply not the case. (This is why I love!)


makeup morsels
Thursday, August 26/2010 at 11:26 pm

lol good tips! I went with my friend once when she went to get her picture taken, I could’ve used this post back then hahah. It was an interesting experience, but I think if I were to do it again, I would’ve put so much more makeup on. I looked a little washed out next to her (she paid to have her makeup professionally done). Now, I’m not going to pay someone 100 bucks to do something I can do fine by myself, but I definitely could’ve used more definition around the eyes.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, August 30/2010 at 9:37 am

Yep, sounds familiar! My usual “natural-looking” mascara and eyeliner seems to instantly disappear when I’m in front of a camera…


Michelle (
Monday, August 30/2010 at 8:57 am

Amazing tips! thank you. I’m going to try and do the squinting thing.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, August 30/2010 at 9:37 am

Yes, try it! That has to be the best tip I’ve ever picked up – I used to always look so surprised in every photo!


Friday, September 3/2010 at 3:05 pm

arrghh i hate getting my picture taken, becausee it shows me bad things about myself, that i didnt see before!! x


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, September 8/2010 at 4:26 pm

I know, I know! That’s how I feel too. Doing your hair and makeup helps, though! :-)


Monday, September 27/2010 at 4:58 am

Just came across your magazine and love it…good tips on “how to look good on photos”
Hated never comfortable having my photo taken, but next time I’m trying the squint trick…


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 27/2010 at 5:26 pm

Thanks Rosalina! Yes def try the squint trick – it seriously works! I got all the beauty eds to do it so you can see more evidence here:


Andrea Claire
Monday, April 2/2012 at 7:30 pm

Great tips! I always request to be shot from a higher angle. ;) Hey – I admit vanity too!

… where’s that fab dress from?? You look stunning btw!

Andrea Claire


Wednesday, April 10/2013 at 9:03 am

um this article is basically implying that to be hot you need to put on loads of makeup and be skinny? you can also be hot being whoever you want to be.


April mcdonald
Monday, July 1/2013 at 11:40 pm

I just wanna know how to get paid for my pictures because I’m very photogenic not bragin but vary beautiful five foot tall blonde hair blue eveys and 27 years old so if u might know plz send a email letting me know thanks


Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 4:45 pm

I’m having my photo taken for the newspaper. Any tips for black and white photos? I don’t know that they will be black and white, but just in case. And, they will be in my home. Any tips on backgrounds? Thanks.


Leave a Comment