Picture day, how we dread those words. We feel once again all the anxiety brought on by flashbacks to our awkward middle school years. In between shooting lifestyle campaigns for clients like Proctor and Gamble and The Vanguard Group, we shoot a lot of executive portraits. I am going to give you two simple tips to help you look great on that dreaded picture day.
Before we get to the tips for looking good on portrait day we have to ask, what is the purpose of the executive portrait? First off, you are not auditioning for a part in “Mighty Mike”. The goal of the executive portrait is to create an aura of competence, confidence and to give people a sense of your personality. Your viewer wants to know, can this person be trusted, can they deliver and will I enjoy working or spending time with them?
So how do I look competent, confident and positively friendly? Have you ever noticed how good people look after accomplishing some physical act? Think about the wonderful smile on a kid after they slid down a slide or how good you felt when you left the gym. One thing that I have noticed after years of studying human expressions is that we are happy when we are moving. We were built to move.
The other truth that I have learned after editing hundreds of photo shoots is that photographs often surprise us. Unless you are a movie star who has spent hours and hours practicing how to look in a mirror few of us know what our best side is or how to achieve that perfect expression.
These two observations that people look best when they are moving and that few of us know our best “look” have lead me to create two simple rules for looking great in your next portrait.
- Every time that shutter clicks or the lights flash, change something. In between exposures, adjust your body, move your head, change your shoulders, adjust your stance or try a fresh smile. There is no better way to discover that perfect look than to give yourself lots of choices. Besides, when you are moving, you will look your most best. The changes can be subtle but they should be real.
- Every joint in your body should be flexed. Most of us look confident and trustworthy when we are verbs not nouns. Straight limbs, stiff necks, ramrod posture all create unnatural looks. We look best; we look like our authentic self when we look natural.
Remember what Mom said about impressing someone on a date, “just be you”. Picture day does not have to feel like a trip to the dentist if you keep these simple rules in mind: move, flex and most importantly, allow yourself to have fun while on set.