Dec. 31, 2013 at 5:00 PM ET
In the age of smartphones, Facebook and Instagram, there’s a camera everywhere—and your most embarrassing photos ever taken can end up on the Internet quicker than you can say cheese. Make the most of the moment by looking your very best every time the shutter snaps with these simple tips from photo-shoot pros.
PRACTICE YOUR POSE
What would you do to improve your skills at anything else? You’d practice! You can—and should—do just the same to look better in photos. “It sounds corny, but practice in front of the mirror for a few days to discover what your best angles are,” says portrait photographer Diana Lannes. For example, “some of us have a better side,” she points out. Find out what yours is by taking a couple dozen selfies to compare. While you’re at it, practice different expressions and body positions.
TWIST TO LOOK SLIMMER
There aren't many things more humiliating than discovering a tagged photo of yourself on Facebook that packs on ten pounds with just the flash of a camera bulb. How you pose, however, can make a tremendous difference in how slender you appear in pictures—and the strategy is pretty simple. “Stand slightly to the side and twist towards the camera for a slimming effect,” explains Lannes.
TILT YOUR HEAD
When posing for a portrait,follow the lead of Hollywood celebrities, who make a living out of never taking a bad shot. To avoid a double- (or triple-) chin, first elongate your neck, then angle your jaw down just a touch. “Many people look good with head tilted slightly down, and eyes straight into the camera,” says Lannes.
BECOME A (TEMPORARY) TEETOTALER
If you’re preparing for special photographs that you (and others) will look at for decades to come—like a wedding or a family studio session—it might be worth laying off the booze and other unhealthy habits beforehand and spending time resting up and living well instead. “I always tell folks to prepare a few days in advance, or even a week, to ensure they look their best,” says Lannes. “Get lots of sleep and exercise, drink lots of water, eat good, healthy food—and preferably no salt or alcohol, which makes people puffy.”
APPLY MASCARA TO TOP LASHES ONLY
If getting extra rest just isn’t possible, fake it. “Two coats of black mascara on the upper lashes lift the eyes, hiding puffiness,” says celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor. “Curling lashes before applying mascara enhances the effect and makes you look like you've had an extra hour of sleep.”
TRY A COOL-TONED CONCEALER
Sotomayor recommends choosing an under-eye concealer that's one or two shades lighter than your skin tone. “Going lighter than that can create a white halo effect,” he warns, and suggests selecting a product like L'Oreal True Match concealer, which is available in cool tones with more peachy pink pigment to counteract blue-grey under eye discoloration.
TURN OFF THE FLASH
You probably noticed that the flash in your iPhone’s camera doesn’t make for the most gorgeous archival photos. If possible, make use of natural light to make you look more photogenic, yes, and also for a better photo overall.
“A little glow on the cheekbones can lift the face, but excess shine can reveal uneven texture. Use a matte powder on the forehead, under the eyes, and over rough skin for smoother look,” suggests Sotomayor. “Word of caution: There are some products out there claiming to create a matte finish that contain minerals or even sparkles. Either one will look shiny on camera.”
Fresh, hydrated skin always looks better on camera, so be sure to use a moisturizer well ahead of any important pictures. Unless you’re going to be shooting outside for an extended period, skip the sunscreen, adds Sotomayor, as it “may create unwanted shine or a white effect.”
SMILE AND BE YOURSELF
You’ll look best in photos when you look like you’re happy and enjoying the moment—and when you look like yourself. “Above all, try to make it fun,” says Lannes. “Don't take it too seriously. The more your natural personality comes through, the better the results. Be yourself, laugh, and find joy.” But what if you're not actually having fun? In that case, change your mindset and think about how you felt during some of your life's favorite moments.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.