Supermodel Shalom Harlow offers tips on looking as good as possible when the cameras come out.
Tip 1: Know Your Light and Face It
If you are being shot without a flash, know where the main light source is and turn toward it. Embrace it. Light hitting you at side-angles will create shadows on your face, making your features look harsher and more severe. Fine for film noir or Instagram photos, but not the best for day-to-day stuff. Shadows will also emphasize lines in your face and bags under your eyes, making you look older, more tired, and possibly more drunk. Go toward the light.
Tip 2: Facilitate a Spontaneous Moment
Photos are about the memory of a moment. The moment you're trying to capture is not "that time you gawked at a camera." If it isn't happening organically, Shalom will create a more fun, interesting moment before the camera clicks. She'll pinch the other people she's posing with, or if she's alone, she's been known to do a pratt-fall or crack a joke to try to make the photog break (even for "serious" photos). Unexpected things like that break people out of their heads and pave the way for a more natural, spontaneous moment. It makes people seem like real people in a real moment—which is exactly what you're trying to capture.
Tip 3: Mug the Mirror
As awkward as it sounds, spend some time making faces in the mirror. Seriously, do it. Every face is different, and as such, every face looks good doing different things. Find your angles. Do you look better straight on, or turned just a few degrees to the side? Do you look better with a full-toothed smile, or with a smug little smirk? Practice and get comfortable making these faces. Learn how they feel to your face, and then your muscle memory will help you recreate them. Think Blue Steel from Zoolander.
Tip 4: Move the Photographer's Eyes to the Lens
Looking into a camera lens is weird. Trying to connect with that is a losing battle unless you've got a robot's soul, and it'll make you feel stiff and awkward. Instead, engage in a real conversation with the photographer. Talk about something other than being photographed. Look at the photographer's eyes while you converse, and then "transfer" his/her eyes to the camera lens. Continue the conversation as if you're still looking into his/her eyes, but you just happen to be looking at the lens itself. Go back and forth when you need to. To people who view the picture, it will seem that you're looking at them, engaged in a relationship, and not just staring in their direction, like one of those creepy paintings where the eyes follow you everywhere.
Tip 5: Relive the Good Times
Some people absolutely hate being photographed. It can be a very uncomfortable, unpleasant experience for some, and if that's how you're feeling, it'll show in the photos. The photographer won't always be able to help you through that. Instead, you can trick your body into relaxing by pulling from your personal collection of good memories. Think about that time you and your husband (or wife) swam with dolphins in the Caribbean as the sun was setting. Really try to go there in your mind. Focus on the individual things your senses perceived. What did it sound like? What did the water taste like? What did the air smell like? Silly as it sounds, this can trick your body into thinking it's in a safe, comfortable place and it will relax your fight or flight mechanism.