Unphotogenic? You Might Be Making These 8 Mistakes

Do you dread group photos? Is your idea of hell being forced to pose for a—gasp—solo shot? Before you write yourself off as being innately unphotogenic, be sure you aren’t making any of the following eight mistakes, all of which could be sabotaging your goal of looking [100 emoji] in photos.

9 Photogenic Poses That Always Work

photogenic mistakes squinching
Stephane Cardinale-Corbis/Getty Images

1. You're Not Using Your Eyes To Your Advantage

Our transformation into photogenic women can largely be boiled down to one word: squinching. Huh? Let us explain. Squinching is a combination of squinting and pinching. Here’s what you do: Tighten your eyes as if you were going to squint. But slightly relax your top lids and let the lower ones do more of the work (where the “pinching,” of sorts, comes into play). Basically, doing this settles your expression into a happy medium between full-on squinting and, conversely, looking like a deer in headlights. Trust us, it's a flattering look on everyone.

2. You Don't Know What To Do With Your Hands

Straight at your sides, on your hips…hands in photos can be awkward. Try holding a prop like a cup of coffee or sunglasses, sticking your hands in your pocket or acting like you’re about to examine your manicure. Here are a few more ideas to keep your hands looking natural.

photogenic mistakes money
Walter McBride/Getty Images

3. You're Saying "cheese"

Hate to burst your bubble, but the old “say cheese” thing is a farce. It actually 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.

4. You Don't Practice

OK, this might feel really weird at first, but that whole “practice makes perfect” thing also applies to looking photogenic. Hop in front of a mirror and try out different poses, angles and facial expressions to see what works for you. You’ll be much more comfortable striking a pose you’ve pre-planned than positioning your body randomly and hoping for the best.

photogenic mistakes tongue trick
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

5. Your Smile Is Forced

Hey, did you know that your tongue can make you more photogenic? Sounds weird, but it’s true. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth (just behind your teeth) when smiling for a photo. Your expression will be totally relaxed (à la Ms. Cruz) and not the least bit maniacal.

photogenic mistakes wrong clothes
Style Pantry

6. Your Outfit Isn't Flattering

Unfortunately, your facial and body positioning can do only so much if you’re wearing a shapeless sack dress that totally swallows your bod. Consider these ten pieces (think snug sweaters, midi skirts and trousers with a half-tuck) that you likely already have in your closet that work wonders when lights start flashing.

7. You're Too Stiff

For those of us who aren’t professional models (*raises hand*), posing for a photo can be completely awkward. But just because you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean you have to look it. Luckily, there are a number of ways—including leaning into the whole awkward thing—to make the experience of being photographed infinitely less cringeworthy. Next time, try seeking out a bold background to take some of the focus off of you.

photogenic mistakes head tilt
Steve Mack/Getty Images

8. You're Facing The Camera Head-on

Another celeb trick to copy? Strategic head angling. Take it from Gal Gadot and tilt your head ever so slightly to your best side and lower your chin. All that’s left to do is squinch and bask in the glory of being one of *those* photogenic women.

sarah stiefvater
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...
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