Three Steps to Your best Self(ie)

I had the pleasure of being photographed again fairly recently, and I love it because getting in front of the camera helps me understand the mind of both the photographer and the subject. Which I, of course, found extremely useful in my business AND personal selfie taking.

Of course, since Mabyn was the brilliant photographer behind the camera, and I was the crazy-haired photographer in front of the camera, we thought this might be the perfect opportunity to do something really fun!

So today, we decided to do two collaborative blog posts on getting your best portraits/selfies/etc - me, speaking from the viewpoint of the "model" and Mabyn speaking from the viewpoint of the photographer. I will be sharing a few of my absolutely favorite tips  that will help you show off your best and sexiest side, using actual images of me doing the thing. These tips will help you whether you're taking a selfie for instagram, posing for a quick snapshot with friends, or being photographed with your new cute fiance!

Then, if you're eager to know how to direct someone ELSE into the best poses and looks, visit Mabyn's blog for her brilliant portrait-taking tips from behind the lens!


1. Smize

If you've watched America's Next Top Model, like, ever, you will be very much aware of this word and it's meaning. If you haven't, well you clearly don't know what you're missing! 

Smize is the act of smiling with your eyes, a word completely coined by Tyra Banks but that I still use on a regular basis. Here's how you do it:

  1. Look into the camera/mirror and relax your face. Now pretend the cutest guy in the world is walking towards you - we'll call him Thor.
  2. Since you're not sure it's actually Thor, you're going to squint your eyes. Not a lot, you're not blind. Just enough to create a little tension, but you don't want to feel any other part of your face move. Channel your inner sexy into your eyes.
  3. Now, because you're actually shocked that Thor is coming towards you, part your lips just a bit, with a soft inhale. 
  4. Tilt your chin down just slightly to bring more focus to your eyes and BAM, you're doing it.
  5. Hurry up and take the photograph before it's gone.

I have found that the key to this is going for the tension then slowly releasing it. When I was being photographed, Mabyn told me that my eyes would get really big and intense, so in my head, I added the last step of softening my squint (by blinking once) and my lips (by breathing in, then out). I can still feel the tiniest bit of tension but my eyes come across far less fierce. Not that fierce is bad, but it isn't always what I'm going for.

How this helps your selfie: two words - sexy. eyes. they're the windows to the soul after all aren't they?

2. Do Something With Your Hands. 

Every time we photograph a session I get the "what do I do with my hands?" question. My absolute favorite suggestions for hands are these:

  1. Always have your hands touching something - your hip, your waist, your neck. Give them something to do.
  2. Keep your hands soft. If they're too tense, they look like claw hands, If you don't do anything with them, they're dead hands. Neither are ever attractive.
  3. Add asymmetry. Don't put your hands on the same level. If one hand is on your hip, let one lay softly on your thigh. If an elbow is resting on your leg, allow your other arm to fall further down (like my pose on the right).

How this helps your selfie: I repeat, claw hands and dead hands, they're just not pretty.

3. Lean Forward, and put your weight back

A little camera trick for you - whenever you lean your hips away from the camera, you actually elongate yourself from and make the widest part of you smaller. So lean at least one shoulder into the camera to create a nice long curve to your body. Also, push your weight onto your back leg, and pop that front knee - you create an S-Curve from your shoulder, hip and leg, instead of a A-Curve when you do the opposite.

How this helps your selfie: you look thinner, so #winning.

A photo posted by Ariana Watts (@thewatts_sfs) on

A Few more selfie tips:


1. Find good natural light. Iphones NEED amazing light, so head towards a window my dear.

2. Hold the camera up. Along with the Lean Forward tip, this helps to create a generally longer (and subsequently thinner) feel to your body. Make sure that camera is eye level or higher, and with the Smize trick, you could take a killer selfie.

3. Use a good background. Solid walls, dark curtains, etc. make great backdrop and bring the focus to your lovely face. 

4. Don't use the front facing camera. Convenient? Yes. But the quality is SO bad compared to the regular camera that you're better taking multiples and getting a higher quality shot. The better your selfie in the camera, the better it will look on Instagram!

This is one of my favorites - I took it by bringing my black curtain around the back of my head and standing in the window light. BOOM.



okay Ariana, now what if I'm BEHIND the camera? how do I direct people into these poses when i'm in charge?

Ah, that is a FABulous question. And I have JUST THE POST for you!!

Find out Mabyn's 4 Steps for the Prettiest Portraits on her blog!

She gives her best tips from the viewpoint of the photographer, and will help you direct your clients or friends into their best self(ie).

Hope you enjoyed this little collaboration of ideas and awesome! Tune in tomorrow for a post where I get really real about feeling like a failure and making sure you take time to remember the things that make you brilliant!



Ariana Watts

Silver Feather Studios, Burlington, NC, 27217, United States