How do you look your best in front of the camera? It’s a question everyone who has ever had their picture taken must have asked themselves at some point or other. Is it better to look serious or to smile? With or without teeth? Chin up or down? Head tilted or sideways? Posing for portrait photography doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It’s the reason some choose a professional. If you live in Pittsburgh, you might choose Pittsburgh Lens Rentals for example.

The ultimate goal is to achieve a stunning, professional image that exudes confidence and amiability, where you appear competent but approachable, serious yet friendly. You want the kind of look that works in formal settings, on personal profiles, company websites and the public domain, including these situations:

  • Your job requires you to have your photo taken often and you need to be sure you look the part all the time.
  • You need a suitable online profile photo where you look serious about what you do, while projecting an air of friendliness and approachability.
  • You would like the natural shape of your face to show because it shows you in the most flattering light.
  • You need a ‘go to’ look that shows you off to your best advantage every time your photograph is taken.

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Luckily, there is a solution for all the above. Welcome to the ‘smize’ – a term first coined by American supermodel Tyra Banks on the 13th cycle of the reality TV series America’s Top Model, and a great technique that allows you to ‘smile with your eyes’ – smize for short. Since 2009, the smize has become part of the standard repertoire of every modelling photo shoot.

Much loved by everyone including celebrities and politicians to convey sincerity and approachability, ‘smizing’ is all about bringing intensity to your eyes while keeping the rest of your face, including your mouth, relaxed. It’s a skill that anyone can learn.

The trick to the perfect smize is to appear smiling but without a big grin. Your mouth may be closed or partially open, but it will be relaxed – it’s all in the ‘smiling’ eyes. Why not put some effort into practising in front of the mirror until the right facial expression becomes second nature to you. Then, when the camera is snapping away, you’ll know exactly what to do without thinking, and your efforts will have been rewarded many times over.

Here’s what you need to do to practise your smize successfully.

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  1. Start with a blank expression
    Get yourself comfortable in front of the mirror and completely relax your facial muscles until you have created a blank ‘canvas’ to work with. It’s the best base from which to start building your smize.
  1. Put yourself in a positive frame of mind
    Next, think of something that makes you feel content and happy inside. It could be anything – a favourite memory or beloved location; it could be your partner, your child or even your pet.
  1. Focus on your eyes
    The key to achieving the perfect smize is in the eyes, so the more attention you can give to getting the eyes right, the better the end result will be. Narrow your eyes into a slight squint, then tighten the muscles at the bottom of your eyes, right under the lower eyelids. Make sure the rest of your facial expression doesn’t change.
  1. Focus on your mouth
    Keeping your mouth as natural as you can, gently curl the sides of your lip to suggest a smile but without involving your cheeks. For some people, this means having the lips slightly parted, others will have their mouth closed and the corners slightly turned up. It doesn’t matter, as long as you mouth stays relaxed.
  1. Lower your head slightly
    Look into the mirror and move your face slightly towards the camera. Lower your head a little bit, making sure to tuck in your chin (hiding any double chins in the process), so that a narrow angle of your face is formed and your jawline accentuated.
  1. Try out the look from all angles
    Practise the pose in front of the mirror from various angles to discover what works best for your particular face shape – after all, we’re all different.
  1. Practise to become confident
    Now pull all the elements together, relax and smize! Put yourself in the position of the viewer and try to connect with them by exuding confidence, warmth and friendliness. Practise until you’ve mastered your perfect smize.

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Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with London based photography studio Boggio Studios.