Use Some Tricks and Never Hate Your Photo Again – Tricks Celebrities Swear By from a Fashion Photog

We are a photo-obsessed society right now and we should be. Never in the course of history have there been so many cameras watching us. That’s why want you to find your best side and work it. I have struggled with this for years as a cameraman shooting video: looking at a person’s face and making the call as to which side is their best side or how to flatter them. Now, after reading this, I am more confident for them and for me.

This story comes from Samantha Simmonds, 42 who is a newsreader for Sky News. She’s comfortable in front of the camera but hates her face in family shots. Photographer John Godwin demonstrates photo techniques to help her. Here is her story in her own words:

As a newsreader for Sky News, I’m comfortable in front of the camera. And generally, if I watch things back, I’m happy with my appearance. But when it comes to family photos, it’s a different story.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being self-critical but, in a photo taken a few months ago, I was shocked at how unnatural I looked. After hours trying to get the children, aged seven, five and two, to stand still and smile, my appearance should have been the least of my concerns.


So when internet forums began buzzing about a technique called ‘squinching’, which apparently guarantees a better photo, I was intrigued. After all, thanks to social media, more people now see our snaps. John Godwin, a London-based photographer specialising in headshots, showed me how the stars look stunning at any angle.

The answer, he insists is ‘squinching’. ‘Squinching has been around for years: Marilyn Monroe was doing it in the Fifties, and Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore are mistresses of the art,’ explains John.

‘Basically, it’s about narrowing the eyes by bringing up the lower lids – as if you’re staring at something in the distance. Only the lower lids move, though – not the eyebrows or any other part of the face.’

I attempt a squinch. It feels very odd as I try to keep the rest of my features still, but I have to agree that my eyes look compelling in the final shot. There’s even – dare I say it – a little smoulder. John says squinching creates the impression you’re concentrating on the viewer. I’ve never known how to ‘smile with your eyes’ – but, suddenly, it all makes sense.

how to smile big fun foto


I’m often asked where I want a guest to sit, so that I can interview them from my ‘best’ side – but I never have a clue what to say.
However, John Godwin quickly decides that my right side is my best. My hair is parted on the right, making this side of my face more open, he explains, while my right eye is slightly larger than my left. ‘If you have one eye bigger than the other, which many people do, have that side towards the camera, as we expect things closer to us to look larger,’ he says.

I pose for two pictures (as I’ll be doing for each of John’s tricks, with the ‘bad’ one on the left and the ‘good’ on the right). My hair frames my face much better on my right side and my smile seems more natural.

‘Not everyone has a best side,’ John adds. ‘But almost everyone’s face is slightly asymmetric. People tend to turn the side they sleep on away from the camera as that’s often more wrinkled.’
From now on, I’ll be making sure interviewees sit to my left.


First, I pose as I normally would – with a slight smile. I’m trying to look welcoming, but John points out that my wide eyes and raised brows make me seem scared and uncertain.

We’re always told to ‘Smile!’ for photos – but John says a toothy grin won’t do you any favours.
‘Looking good in a picture isn’t about looking happy; it’s about creating a connection with the viewer,’ he says. ‘When we smile, we’re try to convey happiness, but we should be trying to look friendly.’ To test his theory, I start with a natural, happy pose.

The result is a big smile I recognize from years of holiday photos – one I know can all too easily turn into an inane grin if the camera catches me at the wrong moment.

John says the best smile to adopt is one you could hold for an hour. ‘For some, that will mean teeth are on show; for others, their mouth will be closed,’ he says. ‘It’s about finding what’s natural for you.’
I try again with my mouth closed. There’s no denying my skin looks smoother and my eyes less puffy. While I still like my happy smile, this is much more model material.

My face isn’t especially wide but, in some photos, my cheeks look fuller than I’d like. I’m keen to hear what John recommends. The worst thing I could do, he says, is suck in my cheeks. I give it a go – and it does look odd. My lips are tense and unnatural.

‘Instead, it’s about working the camera angles,’ he says. ‘Turn so your best side is at a 30-degree angle from the lens, then slightly drop the shoulder nearest to the camera. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth towards the back. This will help to tighten the area underneath the chin.’
It feels a little strange, but the resulting photo is a revelation. All of a sudden, I have a defined, elegant jawline.


To me, pouting is peculiar and I’m mystified by teenage girls pulling ‘duck-face’ poses on social media. But it would be nice to know how to look sultry, not sulky, on a night out.
First, I give it a go on my own. The result is embarrassing. My face looks contorted, and lines appear around my puckered lips.

‘Looking sultry, or seductive, is about really emphasizing that squinch,’ says John. ‘The more you narrow your eyes, the better.’ As for the lips: ‘You want to be saying the “T” of the word “Two” – as if you’re about to kiss someone, with a tiny bit of air between your lips so they’re slightly pursed, but not pouting. Never hate your photo again.’

I try his way – and am pleasantly surprised. I still feel a bit stupid, but the result is better than I thought.
My face looks smooth, my eyes draw you in and my mouth manages to look coy and flirty, but without the horrible pucker.


If it’s just not possible to shoot from a more flattering angle, John has a few tricks for head-on pictures. ‘You want to be slightly lower than the camera, so you’re looking up at it, but not so much you’re craning your neck,’ he says.
‘If you’re looming over the camera, you can appear aggressive and masculine. Looking up totally changes the way your features are perceived.’ I pose for two head-on shots, first with the camera slightly below me, then with it raised slightly. The difference is astonishing.
It’s hard to believe that my expression didn’t change between the two – only the camera angle. In the picture on the right, I look approachable, and my face seems in better proportion. It’s almost an optical illusion.

I’ve never liked my nose, and go out of my way to avoid being pictured in profile — my face seems older, my chin droops and my posture looks stooped.

But while there’s nothing to be done about my nose, there are ways to make this awkward angle more flattering.
‘Having the chin pointing down creates wrinkles in the neck,’ says John. ‘Instead, create as much separation between your chin and neck as possible. Start by elongating the neck and jut your chin slightly forward. Also use the trick we used to make the face look thinner: place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to tighten the area underneath your chin.’

This is a definite improvement. Simply by tilting my head, my skin looks smoother, I look happier and my posture has improved dramatically.

It’s time to never hate your photo again. Try some of all of these the next time someone pulls out their camera, which should be in about 5 seconds from now. For me, the best tip was about smiling. I have small teeth, not big white sexy ones, and so while I’m very happy person, big smiles I can’t do. Second would be the squinching thing. If it’s good enough for Marylin Monroe, it’s good enough for me.

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