Perfect Portraits

How to beat red-eye, flash-induced pallor, and more

All my life, I've never been able to take a decent photograph. Either my eyes were closed, my smile too broad, my nose too crinkled, my skin too pale. You can imagine my anxiety, then, at the thought of all those portraits I'd have to sit for on my wedding day.

So I started asking around for advice: I talked to photographers, makeup artists, past brides. And while none of them could offer me that one magic, picture-perfect tip I was looking for, all their suggestions put together helped make me a beautiful, camera-ready bride—and I've got the pictures to prove it!

Here, their helpful hints. Start smiling—you too can be pretty as a picture.

Makeup Matters

When it comes to wedding-day makeup, the key phrase is less is more. Shocking, right? Well, the idea is to enhance your looks with a little powder and paint, leaving your own natural beauty uncovered. So if you don't wear a lot of cosmetics normally, don't use your wedding day as your time to experiment. You just won't feel like yourself. And if you're shooting outdoors in natural light, everything will look amplified in your prints.

Of course, eschewing makeup altogether will result in a weak, washed out appearance. If you're not working with a pro, makeup artist Jane DiPersio offers these tips:

  • Try mixing your foundation with moisturizer for the sheerest, most natural coverage.
  • Add just enough concealer to even out spots and redness.
  • Make sure to blend the products everywhere.
  • Then add powder to avoid shine. Dust on a yellow- or honey-tone product, not a translucent one. Many women wrongly assume that translucent powder is invisible, but it can actually drain the color from your face and look masklike in flash prints. You should also steer clear of powders with glittery or pearlized finishes—a matte finish will stay put longer and photograph better, since it won't interfere with the camera's flash.
Color Me Gorgeous

If you're taking black-and-white photos, the key is definition.

  • Take extra care when lining your eyes and lips.
  • Be sure to apply your blush evenly. Select a shade that's close to your natural skin color—the camera will exaggerate bright tones.
  • Keep in mind that dark shades of lipstick and liner tend to look even darker in black-and-white shots— go a few hues lighter than you might usually go.
  • Ease up on the mascara as well, because too much can make the eyes look smaller and cast shadows over cheeks.
Grin and Bear It

Beyond makeup, photophobic brides may also want to practice smiling to increase comfort level in front of the lens come picture time. Bearing your pearly whites will definitely up the odds of taking a good shot. Besides, the act of smiling itself can have somewhat of a soothing effect on a jittery bride.

Try to change expressions to avoid looking stiff and posed. Tilt your head. Move your face. And to avoid the appearance of dark circles, remember to keep your chin up; to make a large nose appear small and perky, lift your face slightly. And try to cut down on the chatter during your portrait sessions—moving lips make for funny expressions on film.

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