Kessler was kind enough to meet with a few editors on the heels of the "Shear Genius" headshot challenge episode, offering up his expertise in snapping flattering portraits. As someone who tends to be pretty critical of myself in photos, I jumped at the chance to score some pointers for those of us without a team of professionals to guide us.
So whether you have a wedding coming up, need to spruce up your online dating profile, or just want some good shots of friends and family, here are Kessler's insider tips on taking a great photo:
If you have a long face:
"The direction of the light can change the shape of a person's face. If the light is coming from above the camera, it will make the face appear fuller," suggests Kessler.
If you have a wide or round face:
"To slim out a rounder face, use light coming from the side and slightly above."
If you think you look heavy on camera:
"A wide angle lens will make a person appear heavier, and a telephoto lens will have a slimming effect," Kessler says. Telephoto it is!
If you want smooth-looking skin:
"The closer and larger the light source is, the softer and more flattering the light will be," says Kessler. And avoid red backgrounds: "Very few people look good on a red background -- it brings out the redness in skin."
If you have dark circles:
"Use the flash -- even in daylight. If you're shooting in mid-day sun from above, the flash will fill in under the eyes. Also, try using a white or silver reflector card to bounce light back to the face, removing any shadows under the eyes," says Kessler.
If you're on the pale side:
"A warming filter such as an 81A placed on the camera lens (or added later in Photoshop) will give any skin type a healthy glow."
If you want to shoot outdoors:
"Try shooting in the shade on sunny days, and embrace the beautiful soft light of an overcast day. The clouds diffuse the sun, making it a larger and softer light source," says Kessler. Another trick? "Shoot during the magic hour: either one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset -- lighting is ideal then to give a gorgeous glow to your skin."
If you want to look natural:
Many times posing for photos, especially a portrait, can look forced and stiff. "The most important thing is to feel comfortable and relaxed," says Kessler. He suggests striking up a conversation with your photographer so that you have the same easygoing facial expressions you normally do, and feel at east in the situation.
And a few additional beauty and fashion tips from Kevin Mancuso, celebrity stylist and Nexxus Creative Director:
- Get a trim a week within a week of the shoot so your hair looks healthy.
- Make sure your roots are touched-up, as they can stick out in photos, even black and white.
- Drape hair in front of your shoulders to help elongate the face and make you look thinner -- tightly pulled-back hair can look harsh and unapproachable.
- Pick clothing that works with your hairstyle -- big collars will look busy if you wear your hair down, and low-cut shirts won't work well with an up-do. It's all about balance, so stick to a simple crew or v-neck.