How to Pose for Pictures, Because Who Has Time to Untag Unflattering Instagrams?

Is your idea of hell having your every move documented on camera? Do you flinch when a friend suggests snapping a group pic after brunch? Would you rather retake the SATs than look at your tagged Instagram photos? For lots of people, being in front of a camera is just plain uncomfortable. Luckily, there are a bunch of ways you can make the whole experience a lot less anxiety-inducing—including finding the right outfit. It might take a little practice, sure, but here are 20 of our favorite tips and tricks that will teach you how to pose for pictures…without dying a little on the inside.

: How to Take a Solo Instagram and Not Feel Ungodly Awkward

20 Tips For Posing In Photos

1. Perch Against Something

How is this different from leaning against a wall, you might wonder? The subtle perch allows you to extend and angle your legs out further (which, in turn, makes them appear longer).

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Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

2. Mind Your Chin

When posing for a photo, push your chin and head slightly forward. It feels kind of unnatural, but on film it does wonders for making your face look thinner and your jawline appear sharper.

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Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

3. And Your Shoulders

Again, get used to a slight push forward. This will emphasize your collarbone and make your arms look thinner. Good posture also makes you look more polished and elegant, which is never a bad thing.

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4. Twist Your Body

Instead of facing the camera head on, pivot slightly, planting one foot in front of the other. Point your front toe toward the camera and put your weight on your back foot. This creates a longer line from your head to your toes, and a more flattering silhouette all around.

5. Swing Your Bag

It gives your hands something to do, which, as you know, is always the most awkward part about taking a photo.

6. Walk Slowly

The inherent problem with posing is that it feels unnatural to just stand there and have your photo taken. And this is precisely why the mid-stride snap is genius.

7. Lean Against A Colorful Wall

It makes for a pretty backdrop and instantly makes you look more relaxed.

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Theo Wargo/Getty Images

8. Try To Get In The Middle Of Group Shots

Group photos present a conundrum. Everyone wants to look good and no one wants to be on the outside of the group (where you typically look the largest). We’re not advocating bodychecking your way into the middle (where you’ll look narrower), but we’re also not advocating not.

9. Put Your Hands In Your Pockets

Here’s the key: Smile and look away when you do this, so the effect is cute and charming (and not like you’re hiding a deadly secret).

10. Play Around With Your Dress Or Skirt

Like you used to when you were a little kid. Again, it helps to find a bright background (like the colorful wall above).

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Jason Merritt/Getty Images

11. Make Sure Your Smile Is Relaxed

Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth, when smiling for a pic. The resulting expression is way more relaxed than maniacal.

12. Look Away From The Camera

Remember Chandler’s frozen smile every time his picture was taken in Friends? You can avoid that situation altogether by just averting your gaze away from the lens.

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

13. Learn How To ‘squinch’

You know you should smile with your eyes…but what does that actually mean? Start with squinching. Basically, you tighten your eyes slightly—like you’re squinting—while subtly relaxing your top lids and letting the lower ones do more of the work (where the “pinching” motion comes into play). Here’s a video how-to if you’re a more of a visual learner.

14. Adjust Your Sunglasses

As if they were just slipping down your nose and the camera happened to catch you mid-movement.

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Mike Marsland/getty images

15. Don’t Say ‘cheese’

Hate to burst your bubble, but the old “Say cheese!” thing is a farce. And it makes your smile look kind of forced and unnatural. If you have to say something, we suggest "money," which allows your mouth to stay slightly open and come across as much more genuine.

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Cindy Ord/getty images

16. Learn From Photos You *don’t* Really Like

As much as you don’t want to focus on pictures where you don’t love the way you look, it’s a good learning experience. Go through your camera roll and your tagged photos to pinpoint what it is about the photo you don’t like (say, your smile looks semi-deranged) and try to fix the issue moving forward (say, by saying "money" instead of "cheese").

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frazer harrison/getty images

17. Practice, Practice, Practice

We’re not above a few dozen shameless mirror selfies, especially if it means looking amazing when a real photo happens. Find your best pose, stick to it and don’t let anyone make fun of you for always doing the same thing with your face in group shots.

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Christian Vierig/getty images

18. Be Comfortable And Confident

As much as you might want to (or think you need to), don’t suck in your stomach in photos. Your discomfort will show on your face and your shoulders will look slumped. Instead, project confidence in yourself and your pose.

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getty images

19. Don’t Be Ashamed To Try A Filter

Now, we’re certainly not advocating for Photoshop or anything that would make you unrecognizable in person, but there’s a reason Instagram filters exist—they’re your friends. The right filter choice can take a mediocre photo to the next level. “Whoa, is that Gisele Bündchen?” your friend asks. “Nope, just me in ‘rise.’” Consult this handy guide before posting your next snap.

20. Have Some Fun With It

Ask whoever’s taking the pictures to keep snapping. The best photos are often found in between, when you’re genuinely smiling and laughing about the absurdity of all of this.

Plus, 7 Photogenic Pieces Of Clothing To Add To Your Wardrobe

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Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images

1. A Snug Sweater

Save your oversized knits for another day. On photo day, opt for a form-fitting style in a lighter fabric to avoid adding any bulk to your frame. A simple sweater also helps to tone down flashier bottoms or accessories.

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Christian Vierig/getty images

2. Wide-legged Pants

Much more forgiving than skinny jeans, a wide-legged pant skims your hips and creates the illusion of longer, leaner legs. Wear them with the aforementioned fitted sweater to keep proportions in check and the overall look streamlined.

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Christian Vierig/Getty Images

3. A Midi Skirt

As far as fashion trends go, the midi skirt is the great equalizer in that it works on anyone and is appropriate for almost any occasion. So, bust out your trusty fit-and-flare or try a wrap style for an extra-slimming effect.

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Christian Vierig/getty images

4. Heels That Match Your Skin Tone

A nude two-strap heel lengthens your legs, straightens your posture and doesn’t clash with anything else you’re wearing. It’s the most popular shoe on the red carpet for good reason.

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A Button-down Shirt

This classic layering piece does for your torso what the nude heel does for your legs: elongates. Just make sure to undo a button or two up top, to keep it from looking stuffy.

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Streetstyleshooters/getty images

6. Off-the-shoulder Shirts And Dresses

This style is also supremely flattering because it shows off your shoulders and collarbones while keeping your upper arms (aka the widest part of your arm) covered. If you have a larger bust, look for something that's more fitted than loose (which can make things appear bigger) and opt for darker colors like black or navy.

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7. A Fitted Blazer

There’s nothing like a good structured shoulder. Go for a sharp suiting look or tame a maxi dress with a sleek blazer that hides a multitude of sins (like those aforementioned brunch food babies).

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...