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Karlton getting his picture taken at an event
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8 Simple Tips to Look Better in Pictures as a Guy

From photobomber to photogenic.

Karlton began covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man since 2020 as a writer. He's also written for other popular men's publications such as The Modest Man and Effortless Gent. Karlton is an LA-born, New York-based lover of culture and optimism. Perpetual watch-wearer. Always holding a martini or a football, Karlton's favorite subjects in school were recess, PE and prom. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Apr 7, 2024
8 min read

In my line of work, I attend a lot of events (that’s me above, posing it up). 

If I’m walking past a step-and-repeat to get to the bar during New York Fashion Week or posing next to a recently consigned painting at a Soho gallery opening, several cameras will go off in my direction.

If I’m not ready in those mere seconds, unflattering images of me can end up on any society page, event site, or PR package — and that’s not good for business.

Out of survival, I’ve learned how to efficiently get the camera to like me.

Here’s how I, someone who doesn’t actually love getting my photo taken but constantly has to, ensure I always look my best in pictures.

Firstly, Take Care of Your Skin

The Adult Man Disco Skincare Trying on Face Scrub

Very few of the other hacks here can fall into place as easily if you don’t have a good skincare regimen. And I mean a true routine, one that comprehensively attacks dermatological problems, while also highlighting your best features.

If you have a problem with adult acne, you might go for some zit-zapping face wash. But unless you balance it out with a brightening moisturizer, you’ll have a clear but dull face that will wash out your best characteristics in a photo.

You also want to protect your skin from too much sun exposure to prevent premature aging.

The good news?

You don’t need to spend $700 on your skincare routine. I think Geologie’s sample set is great value because its morning cream features hyaluronic acid, as well as SPF 15 for that aforementioned sun protection. I also like how it takes into account the distinct needs of night and morning routines.

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Plus, the eye cream has caffeine in it, which is great for fighting dark and puffy eyes. It takes time to see results though, so there’s no better time than the present to get started.

Perking up the area around your eyes is a necessity when it comes to getting a perfect photo. It doesn’t matter how great your smile is or how much your parents spent on your braces in high school if your eyes are dead.

And trust me, cameras will certainly pick up on dark circles.

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Keep Well Groomed

Model wearing Twillory Performance Blazer

Please comb your hair if you know you’re getting your photo taken. Even if you’re going for an effortless falling-into-place look, that still takes sculpting.

Even if you wake up in the morning and you think your hair is achieving that relaxed look, it may not look that way in a photo. You know how they say the camera adds 20 pounds? Well the camera also highlights flyaways and extra oily or extra fried follicles.

Just as you need a proper skincare regimen, make sure you know how to take care of your hair. Then, pick a haircut and hairstyle that will complement your face.

And make sure your beard is neat, trimmed, and well-oiled if need be.

Know your Angles and Adjust Accordingly

Matt Guilielmi from The Adult Man Wearing Robert Barakett Cortina Hoodie on New York rooftop

This is actually a lot easier than most guys think since the most subtle head movements can make a difference. And you can figure your angles out by simply looking at yourself on your camera on selfie mode and moving your head around a bit.

If you aren’t blessed with Superman’s jawline (I’m certainly not), jutting your chin out just a bit can define the lower part of your face. It’ll also make your neck and the bottom part of your chin look tight, creating a complementary frame for your face. 

How far can you stick out your chin without looking unnatural in the photo? Sometimes, what feels forced and awkward in life can translate well into a picture.

See if the silhouette of your head has more dramatic or complementary angles when you’re facing straight forward compared to when you’re going for a subtle three-quarters pivot. For most pictures, those are your only two options.

Just pick the one you like the most.

Simply turning your head to the right or left slightly, even if it doesn’t register as turned in a photo, can turn a handsome, prominent nose into a schnoz. Or vice versa. It can bring out cheekbones you thought you never had, or hide them, or make them look puffy.

Consider how the features on your face are highlighted as well as the angles of your head’s silhouette.

Figure Out the Lighting Situation

mizzen main model wearing leeward dress shirt white

The reason why sunlight is the best lighting is because it’s broad and natural. Fortunately, if you’re at an event with a professional photographer or you’re getting your headshot taken professionally, this will mostly be taken care of.

model wearing Vincero midway Sunglasses
vs outside

Otherwise, here are some tips that are easy and don’t require a modeling or photography class:

If the lighting is coming from the back, you might end up just looking like a shadow. Make sure your camera’s flash is on, so that you get both the details and your silhouette.

Direct light creates high contrast. If you’re trying to harden and define your features, this is good. If you want to soften them, this is bad. If you want nuance in color to come through (perhaps you have stunning hazel eyes), this is also bad.

Avoid intense underlighting as it’ll blur the definition between your jaw and your neck. This is especially important if you’re insecure about looking bloated in that area. Ever wonder why most people prefer to take selfies from up high rather than down low? It’s because of this.

Master Your Smile

Fresh Clean Tees Cali Pullover model smiling

Bust out that selfie mode again. Practice makes perfect.

Make sure your front teeth are sitting over your bottom teeth. Don’t have the ends of each touching each other, or you’ll look like The Joker. A tip I heard from friends of mine who’ve modeled is to wet your teeth right before you smile to ensure they really shine.

Perhaps a handsome smirk works better for you. Or perhaps a closed-mouth smile brings out your features more.

Smile with your eyes too. Sometimes that means widening them a bit and sometimes that means giving a charming, slight squint as if you’re laughing. Again, take pictures of yourself doing both, and choose which one best suits you.

And once your eyes and mouth are in place, relax a bit so it doesn’t look forced.

Know Your Surroundings (Details Matter)

Charles Tyrwhitt washed

Comb down those flyaways, make sure your tie is in place, and make sure all your zippers are zipped up. 

Something as small as a stray facial hair can ruin what would’ve been a great photo. This means you’ll want to tweeze and pluck if you have to.

And if you’re at an event where you know photographers will be snapping away, always stand up straight, always be aware of your surroundings, and be careful with canapes. 

My mother always told me not to eat at standing cocktail parties. When I found an image of myself at a party on BFA, holding a bao bun, mouth fully stuffed, I understood what she meant by that. Thankfully it was an atmosphere shot and no one’s name was captioned.

Don’t take my mother’s advice and avoid food completely, of course. Just be careful about how you eat, when you eat, holding a glass of red wine (especially near white clothes), and just how you’re generally wearing your own face.

Add Strength to Your Shoulders

model wearing navy suit and dark blue shirt

One common piece of advice for taking a good photo is to bring your shoulders back so that you look taller and stronger. This is true. 

However, I’ll also add that you should make sure your elbows aren’t sitting too far back either. Otherwise, you’ll have that big, confident chest, but zero bicep action. 

However, I’ll also add that you should make sure your elbows aren’t sitting too far back either. Otherwise, you’ll have that big, confident chest, but zero bicep action. 

Stick your elbows out just a bit, as if you have your hands are in your pockets. This will ensure the visual strength you’ve added to your shoulders also trickles down to your chest and arms, making you look self-assuredly attractive.

Be Yourself

model smiling wearing robert graham short sleeve shirt

Don’t smile big and corny if you’re known to be a serious person. Don’t try to do some supermodel pout if you’ve never modeled in your life. Don’t go to a headshot session to get professional photos taken in a trendy outfit if you’re more classic.

You get the point I’m making.

Of course, constantly standing up straight, wearing your shoulders with strength, and being self-aware can take practice. But, if you’re posing, smiling, or moving in a way that feels wildly out of character, then the photo won’t represent your best self.

And you’d be surprised at how well a camera can pick up awkwardness.

I promise you that this will all become easy quite quickly. And once it starts getting easy, you’ll find you’re doing it all naturally.

I recommend starting with just one or two of these tips. As you get comfortable and know where you stand with those, add another one on top of it.

In no time, you’ll be taking perfect pictures like a pro.