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Smart Guide: you should be in pictures

Look fantastic in photos with these secrets from the pros

Party season is upon us once again and let’s face it: You’re still having flashbacks to those New Year’s photos, the ones where…well, let’s just say you didn’t look as glam as you felt. (Please say the camera sometimes lies.) But believe it or not, you don’t have to be a top model to take a great photo. After all, photography is the art of illusion and even professional models rely on a bag of smart industry tricks. Trust us – you can learn to make the camera love you. Read on.

“It makes such a huge difference if you remember not to face the camera straight on,” says Suzie Pollard, a Canadian-born actress who’s making a name for herself in such TV hits as Malcolm in the Middle. “Just turn your head to one side and your body slightly to the other side. That way the camera sees the curve of your jaw and just one side of your body. You look so much better and thinner.”

“I don’t do candid snapshots any more,” says Renée Lalonde, 49, a former model. “You don’t want to be sitting around a dinner table with all your girlfriends, laughing hard, and have your double chin show.”

Her advice for striking the perfect dinner-party pose? First, get everyone on one side of the table. If you’re sitting, tuck one leg under your bum and lean slightly into the table. If you’re standing in the back row, bend forward slightly at the waist. The idea is to feel a slight tug on your face, perfect for smoothing out any sags or wrinkles. Then make sure the photographer comes in close, so you don’t get any dirty dishes or leftovers in the shot. Now smile with your lips slightly open and think happy thoughts to put the sparkle in your eye. It sounds cheesy, but it actually works.

Find a picture of yourself that you actually like, says fashion photographer Dan Lim. Chances are, the photo captures your “good side.” Very few people have symmetrical faces. Decide if you’re a lefty or a righty – and work it.

Everyone tells you to look directly at the camera, says Lim, but that’s really not your best angle. Ideally, you want to be lower than the camera, which always ends up being flattering. But don’t tuck your chin into your neck. Tip it down just a tiny bit and extend your jaw out. It may feel uncomfortable, but it makes for a great picture. (Practise in front of your mirror.)

Forget red-eye reduction. Imagine a camera that actually makes you look thinner. Better than a scale that lies, the new line of Photosmart digital cameras from Hewlett-Packard has a merciful new “slimming feature” guaranteed to shave a few turkey feasts off your hips.

Here’s how it works: Each digital photo is made up of thousands of tiny pixels or dots. The Photosmart camera compresses the pixels in the centre of the photo, right where your belly is. Then, it expands the pixels on the picture’s edges, just to balance things out. After all of those holiday treats, we’re thrilled to have discovered this nifty little trick.

What’s chic in everyday life looks matronly on camera, says celebrity and Canada’s Next Top Model head hair and makeup artist Greg Wencel. Make sure you leave some softness around the face, either a side-swept bang or a few strands around the face.
DO run a serum or shine spray through your hair, preferably one with silicone. Frizz and fly-aways are never cool in photos. And any lighting behind you will only accentuate the untamed strands.
DON’T pull all your hair back from your face.

“In real life, less is more. On camera, sometimes more is more,” says Wencel. Bag these beauty tricks for a perfect picture every time:
DO wear more foundation than usual to cover dark circles, redness and blemishes.
DON’T wear a concealer that’s lighter than your skin tone, otherwise you get the “reverse raccoon” effect when the flash hits your face. (Just check out paparazzi shots of Jennifer Lopez.) For complete on-camera coverage, go a shade darker than your everyday concealer.
DO use lip gloss over your lip colour, but only on your bottom lip. If you gloss your upper lip, the flash will “blow it out,” making it disappear.
DON’T overline your lips. Put on lip colour and gloss first, then use liner along the lip’s natural line and blend for a soft effect. Heavy-handed celebrities Pamela Anderson and Christina Aguilera aim for a sexy pout but end up looking harsh, says Wencel.
DO invest in an eyelash curler for a bright-eyed look. (A good one to try is Shu Uemura’s, available at
Sephora.com.) There isn’t a single woman who doesn’t look good with luscious lashes.