Tim Flanagan, master photographer and owner of Solas Gallery in Salado, Texas, gazes through a viewfinder with an artist’s eye. But after decades of working with clients, he is still saddened by many folks who are reluctant to have their pictures taken, because they truly believe they don’t look good in photographs.
Tim says his objective as a photographer is, “to make you look like YOU on your very best day.”
People seem so unhappy with their appearance, and it doesn’t help that they are constantly bombarded by photos of models who have been digitally stretched-out, airbrushed, and highlighted to such an extreme that they don’t even look like themselves. “The photos you see in magazines are pictures of women that don’t even exist,” says Tim.
He invited me to view this video from Dove’s Campaign for Real Women. I was simply stunned. If you haven’t seen it, take a look.
Tim also pulled up these before and after photos of Faith Hill taken for REDBOOK magazine.
If Faith Hill has to be digitized and perfected, what hope do the rest of us have?
More than ever before, we are using our phones as our cameras. Oftentimes we don’t have control over lighting, background, or the person photographing us. And if someone else takes our picture, we may not even know where that picture will end up. Someplace in cyberspace? For all of eternity? What a frightening thought.
But the truth is, cell phone photography is here to stay. So how can we trick the camera and click more flattering photos? Tim says,” If you try too hard to pose for the camera, it shows.”
For full-body shots he recommends you:
1. Place one foot forward (ideally with your weight on the back foot). This automatically puts your body at an angle with the camera. Always better than ‘straight-on.’
2. Pull your arms slightly away from your body. (To create more dimension.) Hold a glass of champagne, put your thumb in your pocket, bend your elbows, okay–hands on hips, if you must.
3. Instead of saying “cheese,” when you smile, whisper the word, “Yes.” It’s a more natural way to relax your face, and you can whisper it discreetly under your breath.
Remember: FAY = Foot Forward — Arms Away — Yes
Did I say Tim was a master…I meant a magician!
Tim also suggests turning your belly button away from the light. (See the photos above. The light is coming from the right, so I swiveled to the left.) Whether it be sunlight, flash, or natural light. “It takes a little thought to determine where the main light is coming from…but the least flattering lighting is always from straight ahead [as with an on-camera flash or facing the sun.] If you can’t figure out where the light is…turn your body 45 degrees in either direction.”
Take a look at this ‘straight on’ photo of me and Tim’s lovely wife, Cherie.
Tim advises photographers to ‘move in’ on their subjects. He says, “Closer is almost always better–close with the camera and close to the subject.”
Tim’s wife Cherie, who is also his assistant, uses the phrase, “happy and cuddly,” to describe a good way to get a good shot.
Learning a few tips can help, but Tim says the best thing to do when you’re being photographed is: “Embrace your imperfections, relax, and be yourself.” Thank you, Mr. Tim Flanagan, for helping us all look like ‘Ourselves’ on OUR very best day.