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How To Look Amazing In Your Holiday Photos - Every Time!

Learn some simple things you can do to make sure you look amazing in your holiday photos. You can listen to episode 33 of Camera Ready With Val Brown here:

Dreading the holiday family photos at Aunt Margaret’s? 

Or are you going to an event and everyone is wearing their holiday sweaters and you would rather walk over hot coals?

I’m pretty sure we all have our share of photos from a holiday gathering that don't match our great memory of the event.

Has this happened to you?

When you look at your holiday photos you think everyone in the shot looks great except you because:

  • Your eyes are shut.

  • You hate what you are wearing

  • The camera angle is unflattering

  • You have dark circles under your eyes because of bad lighting 

I’ve experienced every one of these. 

Worry not, there are some really easy things you can do to make sure you look your best in your priceless holiday photos.

In this post we'll cover:

  • What to wear or not

  • Lighting, angles and tips to look slimmer on camera 

  • Timing

Okay, if you’re ready, let’s dive in!

What To Wear...

Holiday events drive your wardrobe so in that context, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are going to wear a holiday sweater, wear a solid pants or skirt in a complementary color to balance out all that design on your body. Large prints will make you look larger.

  • Solid colors in mid-dark tones are slimming.

  • Whites and lighter colors can make you look larger and will make you stand out in photos.

  • Sequins, glitter and shiny fabrics will reflect light, so keep that in mind when you pick your place to stand.

Lighting, angles and tips to help you look slimmer on camera

Paying attention to this will have a bigger impact than anything else you do.

  • If you have any control over where the photo is being taken, suggest a location where there is an even light source when choosing a location.

  • Standing under florescent lights or lights shining straight down from the ceiling will cast unflattering shadows - always look for a location that’s well lit and incorporates the festive feeling of your occasion.

It’s fun to get more candid photos anyway vs. all standing in a row for a group photo. Some people sitting, others standing or leaning is less formal, and people are more likely to look natural.Just watch your posture, slouching can add pounds. And don’t forget to include your canine and feline companions, it’s always wonderful to include them in your memories.

Indoor shots are hard when there’s low light so here’s a quick tip: if it’s too dark, you can use your phone as an additional light source - go to a blank web page and turn up the brightness and position it to fill in shadows. Just don’t shine it on your face from below, you will look very scary!

How To Instantly Lose 5 Pounds on Camera

We all know the camera adds a few unwanted pounds os here are a couple of tips to help you look slimmer on camera:

This is one of my favorites - I know it sounds kind of weird, but….

  • Do the chicken - that’s right, tilt your forehead slightly forward and watch your double chin disappear. Go ahead and try it - this elongates your neck and tightens your jawline slightly and makes your face appear thinner (it’s like magic!).

  • If you have a tendency (like me) to smile so big your eyes disappear, touch your tongue to the back of your teeth when you smile to keep to help you keep your eyes open.

  • My friend and photographer Stephanie Marie who was on episode 11 suggests you turn your body slightly at an angle instead of facing the camera straight on - angles make a more interesting photo and this also has a slimming effect. Straight on to the camera is rarely the most flattering angle.

  • Tucking your your hair behind your ear can open your face up so you can see your eyes.

  • Putting your hand on your hip can draw your waistline in, however, try this only if it feels natural, I’ve seen people do this and because it’s not something they would normally do, and it looks staged.

  • Take photos form angle slightly above which is more flattering than photos from below.

Ready For Your Close Up?

Remember when you’re putting on your makeup, less is more - if you want some tips on putting on makeup for on camera appearances, check out episodes 31 and 32 of Camera Ready With Val Brown, where I go over tips for men and women.

Go easy on foundation and the lipstick - it’s common to wear red lipstick during the holidays, just be sure you apply is with restraint so it doesn’t steal the show.

Use a little blush, contour, and powder to control shiny foreheads.

Gentlemen, if you perspire a lot, take a minute to pat your face down with a handkerchief or Kleenex.

Avoid the helmet look on your hair by going easy on the spray.


I know, you are probably wondering what does that have to do with a good photo.

Actually, taking your photos early on in at your event is a great idea for several reasons.

First, everyone is fresher and energy levels are higher and that will show in the photo.

And, it’s always good to take photos before everyone has had a few drinks and eyes start getting droopy.

Second, it’s easier to corral everyone before they’re engaged in conversations or have to leave early.

You may want to set up an area ahead of time for photos so you can let your guests know as they arrive that you’ll be taking photos early on. Once you’ve done that you can relax and enjoy the festivities and your candid shots.

One final tip: when you smile, remember to say MONEY - it helps to lift the corners of your mouth and your energy so your smile looks natural and who doesn’t like money!

Summing It Up

Whether you like the holiday party scene or not, photos are a part of the festivities. By following a few simple tips you can look amazing in your holiday photos.

  • If you’re going to wear a holiday sweater, pair it with a pants or skirt in a complementary color to help balance out the large pattern, which can make you look larger.

  • Mid tones and darker colors are slimming and lighter colors and shimmery fabrics will make you stand out.

  • Look for well lit spaces and stay away from ceiling lights that will cast shadows. If you need additional light, your cell phone can serve as a fill light in a pinch.

  • Go easy on your foundation, use a bit of blush, contour and powder and a lipstick that compliments your features and doesn’t steal the show.

  • Remember your angles, turn slightly toward the camera, do the chicken to slim your face, and think about putting your hand on your hip (if that’s your style) to slim your waist.

  • Photos taken from an angle slightly above are more flattering than photos from below.

  • Take photos early when everyone is still there and before people have had a few drinks.

And then smile, and enjoy!

I hope you’ll try these tips and let me know how they work for you, and I’d love to see your photos.

As we begin the holiday season I’d like to take this time to say thank you to all of you who have listened in this year and and sent in suggestions on how I can make this podcast better and provide more value.

I’m so grateful for you!

Until next time, remember, by paying attention to what you wear, camera angles and lighting, you can look great in your holiday photos, every time.

Val Brown is an Emmy Award winning television producer, story, visual and personal brand consultant, coach, and speaker. She consults and coaches high performing business professionals and entrepreneurs looking to up their game and increase their confidence and credibility on camera. Val teaches you how to use your story to support your brand in video and photos. 

p.s. I’d love to connect on social media and hear your questions and concerns about being in front of the camera.

Twitter: @valbrown08

1 Comment

Derek D
Derek D
Aug 02, 2022

Thhanks great blog post

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