That is such a great question! Working on this is part of our job every time we do any portrait photography. There are certain things that every single human looks better doing
While the list of tips below is not exhaustive (it doesn’t at all get into wardrobe and hair and makeup that are helpful), these are some of portrait photography techniques we use to help our customers with features they might be self-conscious about.
Turn yourself slightly away from the camera, around 30-45 degrees. Why?
When someone stands straight on to the camera, they will look their widest, while completely sideways makes sure that any extra bulges are visible in profile. Angled somewhere in between helps minimize both
2. Head Angle
With your body turned away from the camera, now turn your head more towards the camera (but not too far!). Why?
Double chins are super common, and when people’s heads are straight, it’s at its most visible. By turning the head, it stretches it out and makes it go away a little. But you have to watch out not to go to far, because then you run into neck creasing, which while completely normal, is not as desirable in pictures.
3. Camera Height
Make sure the camera is head-height or a bit above. Why?
With the camera chest height or lower, it makes people’s bodies look bigger compared to their head, which isn’t good for anyone! Also, it reduces definition in the chin. So placing the camera slightly higher, makes the body a bit smaller, and helps accentuate chin strength. This is also helpful for people with a small chin.
4. Flattering Light
This one is a tricky balance between more definition on the face, and less definition on the body. So I’ll deal with each separately.
To help with the face, having a light source that is high and large – like the cloudy sky, a large high window on a cloudy day (or with a translucent film on it), or a big softbox set high up – helps define facial features. So it makes your chin look stronger, and your cheekbones stand out. These are great to make double chins a bit less, and a slimmer looking face. But you have to watch out not to make it too high, because then strange shadows start happening under the chin which makes it look like you have a goatee!
On the flipside, the body looks better with less definition. So this means a low and large light source, or making sure that the body is turned in such a way that undesirable curves are not accentuated.
5. Lens Choice
Believe it or not, the choice of lens makes a difference. For round-faced people who want to look a bit slimmer, a wider zoom is beneficial, but for those with long narrow faces, a longer zoom helps make it look less so. So a wider angle lens can be helpful to slim down features a little, and also make the head look slightly larger than the body.
Everyone’s arms get squished when they’re held straight down. If that’s something that bothers you, using a pose that keeps them slightly away from the body, while still looking natural, will go a long way for these. So think front or back pockets, belt loops, hands on hips, etc.
Practically speaking, if you’re trying to take better selfies for instance, just hold the camera slightly over year head, move it a bit to your side, and turn your head a little towards it! Especially if you find yourself in a place with a nice soft flattering light.