Squinching – How to take the perfect photo for the party season

As Christmas rolls around like a gathering snowball the grumpy, anti-holiday spirit of Dr Seuss’ the ‘Grinch’ is not to be confused by the photography technique that will show your best side in pictures that we describe as the ‘Squinch’.

 

Whether it’s an official posed photo for a corporate brochure or a candid image at an event, we all like to look our best and project an image of professionalism and friendliness in equal measure. So, here, with my years of experience running photo shoots and dealing with novice models I give you my top tips….

 

Find your Best Side

Deciding your best side is key. We all have reasonably symmetrical faces but quite often one eye is slightly larger than the other, this side should be towards the camera, as it makes your face appear more open.  It is also more likely that the side you sleep on has slightly more wrinkles than the side you don’t, so where possible defer to the wrinkle free side as well.

 

Perfect your Squinch

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. With this technique we narrow 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. If done right you will smoulder. The overall effect is to look like you’re concentrating on the viewer. You may have heard the phrase ‘smile with your eyes’ and this technique helps to make sense of that

 

Don’t Smile Too hard

‘Say Cheese’ or ‘smile for the camera’ – would have been the traditional phrases we endured during that awful moment of having our photo taken. However, looking good in a picture isn’t about looking happy; it’s about creating a connection with the viewer. A big smile can turn into an inane grin if the camera catches you at the wrong moment. The best smile to adopt is one you can hold for an hour. For some people this could be a toothy grin, for others their mouths and eyes will be slightly closed. It has to feel comfortable and natural. This will give you; a less wrinkled face, make the eyes less puffy and will make your skin appear smoother. Before you realise it Storm Model Agency will be calling you up!
Slim Your Face

The worst thing you can do is suck in your cheeks, which will make your lips tense up and look unnatural. Instead, work the camera angles. Turn so your best side is at a 30-degree angle from the lens, also slightly drop the shoulder nearest to the camera and finally, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth towards the back, this will help to tighten the area underneath the chin. The resulting picture should give you a defined and elegant jawline.

 

Don’t pout

Pouting is peculiar and mostly used by teenage girls pulling the ‘duck-face’ pose on social media. Looking sultry or seductive is about really emphasising that ‘Squinch’, the more you narrow your eyes the better. As for the lips, try 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. Hopefully the look is flirty rather than silly

 

Raise the camera angle

If it’s just not possible to shoot from a more flattering angle, you want to be slightly lower than the camera so you’re looking up at it, but not so much that you’re craning your neck. If you’re looming over the camera, you can appear aggressive and masculine. Looking up totally changes the way your features are perceived, you will look approachable and your face will be in better proportion. It’s almost like an optical illusion.
Keep Your Chin Up

Having your chin pointing down creates wrinkles in the neck. 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.  Your posture will improve in this frame and your skin will appear smoother.

 

The key for all this is practice your ‘photo’ poses.  All professional models understand these techniques, but these few pointers will help you towards that flawless impression. Good luck and DON’T say cheese.

santaCraig Gunn, Photography Manager

 

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