Supermodels: they’re just like us! No, but really. Emily DiDonato is pulling back the curtain on how exactly she guarantees that she’ll look her best in photos – from the set of a Sports Illustrated photoshoot to a selfie for the ‘gram.
Now, obviously Emily DiDonato has quite the leg up in this area, being that she has worked as a high-fashion model for the past 13 years. However, I believe that is what makes her the perfect woman for giving us the inside scoop. We know and adore Emily as our favorite laid-back, goofy, and honest supermodel (and YouTuber) who has openly shared her struggles with body image.
After many years of learning how to pose in a way that transforms photos from awkward and unflattering to graceful and captivating, Emily is spilling the tea to help out her devoted fans. Most importantly, her practical advice has the power to unlock a higher level of self-confidence the next time you’re in front of the camera.
While I may not be 6 feet tall or among the world’s highest-paid supermodels, with a petite frame and short, stubby legs, I have learned how a basic shift in body angles can make my legs appear longer and slimmer (without the damaging effects of Facetune). However, as someone who has been fascinated with modeling since the age of five and a fashion influencer for the past eight years, I was utterly shocked at the realization that many of the tips Emily shares were totally new information to me. Have I been doing it wrong this whole time!?
Sure, Emily touches on some fairly obvious hints like not to slouch over, but she also gets down to the nitty-gritty of what I believe to be the most helpful advice I’ve ever heard. Consider my posing skills forever changed.
In the day and age of social media practically running our lives and smartphones documenting our every move, you’re bound to get caught behind the lens at some point. Even if you’ve prepared for the moment by taking added beauty measures, sometimes when the camera comes out we all tense up and feel a bit uncomfortable (especially if there are strangers watching).
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a college student snapping a selfie to share online, a homemaker gearing up for your family photoshoot, or a business girlie wanting to stand out in your next LinkedIn headshot, these tips are for everyone. With that in mind, let’s get started.
1. Be Mindful of Your Posture
Emily says, “It is helpful to imagine a thread is pulling you from the top of your head all the way up to the sky. Almost thinking about it like you were a dancer; to be aware of your entire body.”
We’ll start here with the easiest and most obvious suggestion. This tiny correction is worth drilling home because it really can make a world of difference in photos. Keep your shoulders down and brace your core as if you’re doing a plank.
2. Elongate Your Limbs
Emily says, “It never really looks good in a photo when you are scrunched up into a tiny ball and sort of hunching over. In general, trying to extend your body to make it look longer is much more flattering for a photo.”
Rather than letting your body pull you forward into a ball, extend a leg or arm outward to make yourself look taller and leaner. Recline backward if you’re sitting, and if you’re lying down, make sure you’re extending one or both of your legs with a slight bend to the side (as opposed to straight on for photos to show off the length). You’ll be surprised by how much longer your legs look, even if you’re 5’1 like me.
3. Utilize Your Hands
Emily says, “Bring in a prop; that can be a coffee cup, it can be a purse, it can be your groceries. Whatever it may be, it gives you something to do with your hands and it also gives you an action in the photo. In general, if you’re just standing there with your hands by your side, it just can look kind of awkward.”
Emily also shares that if you’re caught without something to hold, there are other ways to utilize your hands and make the photo feel natural and effortless. Here are some simple ideas if you don’t have a prop: put one or both hands in your pockets, cross your arms, touch your hair, play with strings or buttons on your outfit, lean on your hand(s), or put your hands in your mouth/around your face for a playful and flirty expression.
4. Shift Your Hips from Side to Side
Emily says, “You will never see a model just standing there, rarely, just like pin-straight with their arms at their side. You can shift your weight from side to side and play with the shape of your body.”
Standing in a straight line is a surefire way to make you look as stiff as a board. Shift your hips from side to side and play with the shape of your body for relaxed, flattering photos.
5. Arch Your Tailbone Backward
Emily says, “I try to think about my tailbone going towards the back of the room. It just creates a little bit more of a flattering shape for your body and your legs.”
You didn’t do all those squats for nothing, yes? Shift your hips and arch your tailbone backward to create a curvy, hourglass silhouette. Although it may not feel totally natural in the moment, trust that the photos will be worth the extra effort.
6. Create Shapes
Emily says, “If you put your hands in your pockets or your hand on your hip, it allows for space in between your arms and your hips, allowing you to show off your waistline which can be very flattering.”
Supermodels like Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner are experts at this posing trick. If you glance through their Instagram feeds, you’ll see an obvious pattern: they create shapes with their arms and legs in nearly every shot.
Creating triangles with your body not only makes the photo more interesting, but it also helps highlight your waistline. Place your hands in your pockets, on your hips, or in your hair for a radiant, model-like pose.
7. Do a Fake Walk
Emily says, “If you ever see a photoshoot happening, you’ll see models doing the fake step forward and back. It helps to create some movement and helps to create different shapes with your body.”
This is the best tip for getting a cute, candid shot. Just like the tip about shifting your hips from side to side, a fake walk will create movement and make you look natural instead of stiff and awkward. Plus, if you’re taking a photo outside where the breeze can catch your hair or a flowy dress, the movement can make the photo appear more spontaneous.
8. Smile, Smirk, or Smize
Emily says, “You need to get an idea of what angle and what expression you like your face best.”
Practice in the mirror or in selfie mode on your phone and play around with angles and expressions to get comfortable. You don’t want to look like a deer in the headlights when the flash goes off, and a smirk or smize can help you look more relaxed.
Additionally, although it may feel uncomfortable in the moment, a fake laugh or giggle can make you look happier, more genuine, and allow the photo(s) to come across more casual.
Emily says, “Don’t feel weird giggling to yourself. Every single model I know does it.” (Psst: me included, this is my go-to for posing for my feed.)
9. Raise Your Eyebrows Slightly
Emily says, “I think lifting my eyebrows slightly just gives my entire face a little bit of a lift and makes me look more awake.”
Personally, this was one of my biggest takeaways from Emily’s tips. I never realized that something as simple as raising your eyebrows ever-so-slightly could instantly give you a facelift in photos and make you look more alert.
10. Place Your Tongue on the Roof of Your Mouth
Emily says, “I always have my tongue glued to the roof of my mouth. If my tongue is not on the roof of my mouth, your neck just looks a little bit more relaxed, a little less defined.”
I’m not ashamed to say that once Emily shared this tip, I immediately ran to my bathroom mirror and checked the before and after of my side profile. As someone who was skeptical about how this would look, I’m here to tell you that it will change the way you take photos (especially beauty selfies). After seeing the difference firsthand and how much tighter and more sculpted my face looked, I’ll never go back.
That’s it, ladies! It may seem like a hefty checklist to follow next time you’re preparing for your close-up, but after practicing in the mirror and thinking through these tips at home, they will undoubtedly become second nature.
You don’t need to be a supermodel to look radiant and poised in front of the camera. Rather than dreading the “ding” of a tagged photo notification, hopefully Emily DiDonato’s posing advice will help you feel confident knowing that you look your best.
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