Time to revisit the subject of "How to take a really good photograph." Personally, I need to revisit this subject myself. Why? Because I haven't been taking very good photos lately. I have to admit that I'm feeling a little heavy in the face and body, and this affects how I feel in front of a lens. Truthfully, I am about 8-10 pounds heavier than my best picture-taking weight right now. That's not good, especially for my confidence in front of the camera.
So, just like you, I need all the tricks I can find to take a better picture. Gizmodo posted a pretty good article on it here and offers tips from a supermodel. Which just happen to be similar to my own tips on the subject here. Yes, patting myself on the back again.
One of the things the Gizmodo article mentions that I don't is how to angle your face, which I didn't have a clue about. The model, Shalom Harlow, says to find your light, and then face it. This makes all the sense in the world. I mean, even if you are 15, bad lighting can make you look 20 years older. So if you're in your 40s, make sure the lighting is working for you, not against you.
When Harlow says to face the lighting, she means to physically angle the front "plane" of your face and turn it toward the light. That way, shadows don't form where they shouldn't, like in those little wrinkles above your nose or to the left or right of your eyebrows. Don't point your nose down in an attempt to look more suave and debonair. That should come from your intentions, not how the light catches your face.
Recently, I went to one of those dermatology parties (i.e., Botox parties). I have a friend who's 6 years my senior and she is very much into cosmetic enhancements. The dermatologist brings the equipment to someone's house and performs the treatments there. I'm not yet doing the Botox, but I do have a fair amount of facial scars, pigment spots and other skin tag-like things on my neck. So I get them burned off or cauterized with a laser.
Right now, I'm scar city. Got little dark scabs all over my neck and face, mostly on my neck. After a couple days of healing, I'm starting to put some cover-up makeup on them. But it hardly does the job. Concealer doesn't work so well on scabs, apparently.
Yeah, it's kinda gross, but it's the price I pay to look, well, how I used to look 10 years ago.
Another point Ms. Harlow makes is to look directly into the lens. I often find myself looking in the photographer's eyes rather than at the lens. It's an amateur's mistake though. Look into the lens, and understand that you are actually looking at the viewer when your photo shows up on a computer monitor somewhere else.
Not sure if I mentioned it before, but one time, this Japanese girl was taking a Polaroid during a casting session and she angled a manila folder just below her chest like a reflector. I honestly don't know if that's going to make you look better, but I do have to wonder about that. I mean, when was the last time a professional photographer gave you "underlighting" as an effect?
The reason I am mentioning it here is that, as hopeful actors and models, we often will do things, spontaneously, to try to gain a leg up on the competition in a room. The absolute best thing you can do, spontaneously, is to make that poorly lit Polaroid stand out. How? By lighting up the camera with your natural, glowing personality. I know that sounds obvious, but the idea is to practice doing this over and over again, and make it seem natural. It's not an easy thing to do.