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The wedding survival guide - Looking good in pictures

Monday, 3 September 2012
 
Let me say straight out - I'm no expert on this. I do not take a good photograph, and am not claiming that any of the below are amazing pictures of me. But after being at a zillion weddings this year, I have learnt a few tricks to prevent you looking too Godawful in yours.
 
For years, I used to bemoan the fact that I always looked awful in photos. One day, I was bitching about it to a friend who always looks great in hers, and after she got sick of the sound of my voice, she told me that she practises in front of the mirror. She has her poses down pat.
 
Oh, how I laughed at her. It seemed like such a vain, idiotic thing to do. But then, after another wedding that provided photos like this...
 
The voluminous turd in the middle is me. For fuck's sake.
I decided fuck it. Maybe I wouldn't pose in the mirror (too much) but I was going to start posing for the camera, instead of grinning inanely.
 
You can say that photography is all about catching the moment, and a person's spirit. But do you know what else? Sometimes, you just want a photograph that you look nice in. So shove it.
 
1. Arms away from your sides, ladies
This was a trick taught to the bridesmaids at Karen's wedding. The photographer knew that fat upper arms are a common problems with women, so he told them all to keep their arms away from their sides during the pictures. I'd go as far as to say hands on your hips. It creates lines, cinches the waist and there's no chance of the squished arm fat that is my forte.
 
I taught everyone the trick at Fern's wedding...
But someone messed it up.
Nailed it. Though actually, I prefer the one in the middle.
 
2. Beware of the official photographer...
They always love to catch you unawares, having a friendly chat. They lurk in the background to get long lens shots, and if you're careful, you can miss them. Whenever a renegade shot is taken of me, I always seem to be talking about something horrible. At a wedding last week, I was talking to a friend about the boxes they're putting outside hospitals to put abandoned newborn babies in.
 
Snap!
 
Happy wedding day.
 
Do keep an eye out for them. And then put a small, meek and romantic smile on your face.
 
Alternatively, keep your Goddamn mouth shut, and put your hand on your hip. Again.
 
 
 
3. ...But learn to love them.
Much as they try to catch you out, remember that they are the ones with the best camera in the room. They know how to catch the light, how to stage the shot and which lens to use. Plus, if they're a goodie, they'll photoshop you afterwards. The best shot taken of me ever was at an American wedding, by an amazing photographer and artist Marina Williams. This is mostly because she was there the whole night (why don't more photographers do this?!) and also because she knew that the Brits need to be in black and white, to eliminate the red faces and yellow teeth.
 
 
 
4. Create angles
Everything I've learnt in life, I've learnt from Tina Fey. In her book Bossypants, she describes what a photoshoot experience is like for a non model, and gives (somewhat tongue in cheek) advice about taking a good picture.
 
"Posing for a successful glamour portrait is very simple. Start with the basics. Turn sideways, lean back against a wall, move your chin forward to elongate your neck, relax your shoulders, make angles wherever possible.

If you're over 24, smile at all times. Keep your arms slightly away from your sides so as not so smush them and make them look larger. Suck your stomach up and in and wrap your buttocks towards the back, pilates style.

Be yourself. When you look into the lens, imagine you are looking at a dear friend, but not a friend who would laugh at you for jutting out your chin while arching your back against a fake wall."
'Creating angles' is now an ongoing joke between us. I'll shout it out as soon as I see a photographer, and we'll contort ourselves into angular machines, ready for our close ups. But do you know what's funny? It works.
 
5. Try to forget it all and have a giggle.
Despite all of my babbling, there are worse things in life than a photo in which you look like one giant fat arm with a red face and yellow teeth. In all likelihood, you'll look back at these photos in ten years time and wish that you looked that way again.
 
The photo above, which I say is the best one taken of me? Sure, it was down to a good photographer and a crafty bit of photoshop. But really, I like it so much because it reminds me of a night where I had a blast. That's what comes across the most. So just have fun, and forget about the pictures.
 
 
But do keep your fat arms away from your sides, chubby.
 

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