Picture Perfect

When faced with a camera, most people will shriek in horror, recoiling from the lens with some self-effacing comment. Eventually, they’ll relent, allowing their photo to be taken, with less than happy results. Why? It has nothing to do with the camera, actually. Taking a great picture has little to do with being photogenic, either. But it does have a lot to do with everything else:

1. It starts at home. If you know cameras are going to be around, assume you’ll wind up in front of one. Choose attire that makes you feel slim, strong, sexy, smart and all the things you wish to convey about yourself to the world. But you should feel these things naturally. Dress too tight? The camera will catch that when you’re stiffly sucking in your belly and the seams appear to be busting open. Collar too small? There will be no doubt in the photo when the skin on your neck is hanging over your tie. Avoid square-shaped tops (they tend to look frumpy) and overly-shiny fabrics (that reflect light to expose folds and make you look flat and wide). Opt for well-tailored, structured pieces that hold their shape under any circumstance. The best outfit to wear for the camera is the one you don’t have to think about. It fits you and you fit it, effortlessly.

2. Makeup! This is not your Hollywood close up, so take it easy. However, the camera does tend to wash things out when rendering a three-dimensional, living thing (you) in a two-dimensional photo. The best way to handle this is to articulate your best features. Nice eyes? A little eyeliner goes a long way. Charismatic? Lightly shade or pencil those brows. Define your best Mona Lisa with gloss or lipstick but stay inside the lines and carefully pat away the excess.

3. Hair. If you feel like photos make you look haggard or exaggerate evidence of countless late nights in the office (yes, wrinkles), sweep hair away from the face. Your hanging locks may be beautiful, but they can cast harsh shadows that exaggerate the peaks and valleys in your complexion. An up-do will look fresh, creates the appearance of pulling everything up and tends to hold well over time.

4. Project yourself. Rather than combing gossip rags for the looks and poses your favorite celebs are donning, spend a little time admiring yourself in the mirror. You’re dressed, hair and makeup are done, and you’re ready to go. Do what the models do: Test your smile, posture, angles and expressions in the mirror. Chances are you’ll find your best pose is your most natural one.

5. Model 101: When the moment comes, don’t think about looking a certain way to convey your expression. Instead, think about the thing that makes you feel that way. Professional headshot? Think about the time you won that big case, landed the important client or got your first promotion. You felt smart, powerful, accomplished and optimistic didn’t you? If you think about those events, these are the things the camera will read. Happy family portrait? Think about delicious ice cream on a summer day, a puppy or your child’s giggle and you’ll find a picture waiting that reflects a happy, relaxed you. Want to vogue up a little sex appeal? Think about…well, you remember that time at the beach when…