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Best kept secrets for looking good in photos!


After being a portrait & family  photographer for a few years and then spending the next few posing for photos myself I feel like I have learned some really valuable info on working the camera!
I posted on this subject about a year ago, but after 12 more months of taking more photos I’ve stumbled on even more conclusions… and since I know many of you are gearing up for family photo season again, I thought I would share my findings.

Here we go…



Exfoliate: Dead skin is going to KILL your IT factor by making you look drab and colorless. Get rid of it.
Get rest: Baggy under eyes are not your best look. We both know that.
Water: Cause I can’t make any kind of a beauty list without adding this stuff…

The other thing that is REALLY important is that you don’t procrastinate anything else you have to get done before the photo shoot. Picking out an outfit, your kids outfit…whatever it is make sure you can have as much as possible done before hand so that you’re not stressed to the point of murder by the time you get to the picture taking part. Stress photographs TERRIBLY.



There are a million fashion blogs you can go to and get much more information than I can offer on this one but I am going to talk sheer logistics here-
as a photographer I can tell you the number one thing women didn’t like about their photos was when their body wasn’t flattered.

Sometimes the camera really does add ten pounds!

But there are ways to avoid this.

Proper undergarments are crucial.  (you know.. bras that fit, no panty lines…that sort of thing can be overlooked by the mirror but NEVER by the lens)
I like to pick flowy fabrics that don’t hug me too tight. I know if I feel like I need to suck in the whole time my photos are going to look…pained and if I have a muffin top I’m not going to be super stoked about it. (peplums are pure muffin camouflage!)
Oh, and heels, for obvious reasons.

(More on flattering posing)


shoes: steve madden (similar)  | pants: forever21 (similar) | top: forever21 (similar)



My hair ALWAYS looks flatter in photos so I amp up to volume to compensate, I do that by starting my curls at the root instead or half way down the shaft and by adding clip-ins.
If I’m taking photos outdoors I like to pick a style that can move around and not get ruined. Highly hair sprayed or perfectly coiffed styles are bound to drive you crazy if the wind makes an appearance.
Don’t be afraid to get generous with shine serum! I mean, you don’t want to look like a grease ball or anything but I’ve noticed you can use more serum than you normally would and it just makes your hair look so luxurious!

>>>>Here<<< is my favorite hair tutorial for photos.



I am always SHOCKED at how different makeup is in person vs. on camera. For me it can be so frustrating because I want to teach makeup looks that look gorgeous in person and then try to photograph it and it just doesn’t show up like it does in person. This makeup is the opposite, it looks good in person but it looks much better in photos.

I compiled all of my best makeup tricks in this video:
Beware when you watch it at certain points you are gonna be thinking: that is too much color or that doesn’t look right but the proof is in the pudding! These photos are unedited and were taken right after I filmed the video. (well I guess if you don’t like the makeup in the photos then…touche… 🙂

Product list:
Tomas Airbrush Tan
Loreal Perfecting Base
Make Up Forever HD Foundation
Maskcara Blush in Jem 
Loreal True Match Powder in Deep Warm
Anastasia Brow Genius in Brunette
Loreal Gel Liner in Blackest Black
NYX HD concealer wand in Glow & Yellow

Milani Color Satement lipstick- Best Red

Sephora Collection Fushcia Gloss
Ardell Lashes in Wispies on top & individuals in short for the bottom


Being photogenic is ALL IN YOUR HEAD!
It’s a vicious cycle. You see a bad photo, decide you look bad in photos, the next time the camera is out you get all awkward trying not to look bad, you look worse….etc.
Photographing well is all about being comfortable and confident….or at least convincing yourself you are.

Here are some ways I use to shake out my nerves and fake supreme comfort and confidence:

Eat some  food. You don’t want to take hangry photos…ever.
Bring some fun music to lighten the mood.
Pull out one of your old elementary school tricks and “shake your wiggles out” – really a little wild shaky dance will help loosen you up


When I used to take photos I would always tell strained smiles to laugh out loud.
I’m not that funny so I’d make them actually fake laugh. With the laugh sound and everything or it doesn’t work.
For some reason this A. Makes you actually laugh or B. Brings out a totally genuine smile.
The above photo was taken after such a laugh.
Nick is so embarrassed for me when I do this…but he is admittedly not photogenic so…maybe he should try it sometime:)

Hope this ends in you having the sexiest photos of your life:)


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  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Love these tips! I just started working on my own blog and I will be bookmarking this post for sure. I am the master of awkward solo photos.

  • Reply
    Daisy @ Simplicity Relished
    September 22, 2014 at 6:40 am

    This is a fantastic post!! You are so right that makeup looks really different in photos vs. in person– something I have so many issues with! I’ll also be working on better poses; full-body photos are just so intimidating sometimes:)

    Daisy @

  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 6:52 am

    I love all of these tips! I absolutely looooathe having my picture taken. It’s something that’s been extremely difficult for me to deal with since starting a beauty blog of my own. Trying to feel comfortable and less awkward in front of the camera is such a struggle!

    • Reply
      Becka Thraen
      September 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

      I’m the exact same way, Jenny. I look in the mirror and feel beautiful, but when I take a selfie to try to show off my pretty self, I always feel like it’s horrible! The best fix I’ve found is to have a friend whose opinion I really trust look at my pictures before I delete them all and tell me which ones are actually good (even though I can’t see it).

  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Love this post! Check out my beauty blog,

  • Reply
    Jennifer Nieczypor
    September 22, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Thanks Cara! I’m part of a bridal party next month and need to work on my poses. Sleeveless dress and I don’t need my arm taking the spotlight away from the bride lol

  • Reply
    Hannah Robinett
    September 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for this post! I actually have headshots scheduled for Wednesday so this is great timing. I especially like the advice about laughing being yourself. Thanks, Cara!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 11:38 am

    could you post what the “kajal” pencil is that you used in the eye water line please. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Eat Wear Wander
    September 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

    LOVE your hair!

  • Reply
    Carmen Varner
    September 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Totally true about confidence. If I feel awkward I look awkward which makes me feel even more awkward! Stay hydrated. Stay happy. :] // ☼ ☯

  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Love this post! Often I find out afterwards that my makeup and hair in photos is wayyyyy overdone. Is this the makeup you used for your photo on the left hand side? (where it says “Cara” a makeup artist”…)

  • Reply
    Lauren Clemons
    September 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    gggyyyaad, you’re sucha babe. #kudos

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Sooo helpful! Thank you once again. I have a question about lashes. First, I apologize if this posted twice, because I tried from my phone but didn’t think it worked. Anyway, i watched one of your YouTube videos where you said you were wearing lash extensions. I am really, really interested in trying them, but am a bit apprehensive since I really know nothing about them. I’m sure you’re pretty wrapped up in “baby bliss” right now, which you TOTALLY deserve to be, but when you have the time, I would so appreciate any info/tips/warnings/etc. you could offer. Congrats again on the newest addition to your BEAUTIFUL family 🙂

  • Reply
    Caitriona Tighe
    September 26, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I found your make-up video so useful ! x Loved this post , so many wonderful tips x

    Caitriona Tighe

  • Reply
    The Blonde Chef
    September 29, 2014 at 7:02 am

    You are so so so SOOO gorgeous! Seriously. I am in awe. Also, as a photographer myself, I am going to share this with all of my clients! What fabulous tips!

  • Reply
    Lauren Clemons
    October 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I’m having family portraits done on November 2nd and I am following these makeup tips to a T!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2014 at 4:41 am

    Hi Cara- I can’t find the L’oreal deep warm at any stores and don’t have the time to order it online and I can’t find the NYX taupe blush either. Are there any other products you can recommend for contouring? I have an engagement photo session on Wednesday.
    Thank you

  • Reply
    November 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Any chance you know where you got the exact top and shoes and if not, can I get the name of the brand on the tag. I love them both!! Thanks for sharing your great style secrets 🙂

  • Reply
    Sana Nurani - Vancouver Mobile Wedding Makeup Artist
    April 1, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Great tutorial!!! Your makeup in your photos looks SO natural and whatever blush you used and the brush you applied it with makes you look like you have naturally rosey cheek. So much good info here!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I adore your blog <3 I tried out these tips for my new license photo (it took me 2 hours to do hair and make-up) and thennn- I forgot it was a holiday so the DMV was closed. Few days later, I did the same and my photo rocks. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Do you have any tips for using your IIID foundation for photos? I have pretty much gotten rid of all my other foundations, so I’m wondering if there’s anything I should/can do differently from my regular routine to make sure I look good in photos using this foundation! 🙂

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