The Mom Stays In The Picture

More Picture Perfect Tips

Pointer #5: Look directly into the camera's lens.

A couple of tipsters recommend looking slightly above the lens (apparently, this was a favorite trick of Jackie O's). But I think this must be at wizard level, since I just looked sight-impaired or hammered.

Take a moment to stand or sit up straight. Several times during our family vacation, a loved one would whip out a camera as I was hunched over my children or slumped in the couch with a bowl of popcorn teetering on my stomach. The resulting photo was always better when I stopped the shutter-happy fiend and took a second to straighten up. Floppy bits tuck in or fall back into place when you do so. Also, seize the opportunity to put down your knees or take your feet off the coffee table. We all know we're supposed to do this, and yet we continue to let people take pictures of us reclining on lounge chairs—resulting in repeated images of our tiny heads peering through the massive columns of our shins.

Pointer #6: Wear tailored clothes in flattering colors.

For those who claim this is obvious, I direct your attention to thousands of pictures snapped of me in the '80s in which I'm clad in overalls. It looks like I was smuggling a 5-year-old in my jeans. Clothes without shape make you look shapeless too. As a rule, I don't wear anything sleeveless. But if it's so hot that I have to, Nicole recommended a hand-on-hip pose. When upper arms are pressed against our sides it makes them look twice their size. Mothers at greatest risk of manifesting this mutation are those holding infants or toddlers. Try dangling the child slightly in front of you. The kid may scream, but your arms will look fabulous.

Pointers #7 and 8: Just say no.

The final two tips are my own. First, simply say "no" to having your photo taken at an inopportune moment (on the lounger, in the bathing suit). I adore my mother-in-law, but she used to leave picture-taking 'til the morning she was leaving. This resulted in tons of shots of me in shapeless pajamas, with no makeup, matted hair, and glasses. I look like I've just been released from an institution—not because I've recovered but because they need the bed. It took me years to find the strength to tell her firmly that I didn't want my picture taken until it looked like my reintroduction to society had been a success.

I am surprised to find that my last rule wasn't mentioned by any of the experts, because it's so simple: When you know that you'll be in a situation where you'll be photographed, abstain from red wine. I learned this the hard way when I saw pictures from a recent wedding: There I am next to the beautiful bride, flashing my wine-stained teeth. My friend couldn't destroy the pictures that testified to her joy that day. So my purple smile beams from the photos in her album—a dreadful reminder that while you have a judicious finger on your own delete button, others may not. I suggest you plan accordingly.

Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

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