'Smizing' and soft lighting: 5 tips from Instagram stars to look your absolute best in photos

Tatiana Ward, a makeup artist in New York, shares her tips for getting that perfect shot on Instagram. (Instagram: beatfacehoney)

The hundreds of influencers who descended on New York this weekend for the third annual theCurvyCon may hail from different places, but many share an enviable skill: capturing that perfect photo. To help those in attendance — or watching Yahoo Lifestyle’s lifestream — master the same, Dale Noelle, president and founder of True Model Management, sat down with four of the best.

From lighting to confidence, here are the five tips they recommend to help you take your Instagram to the next level, and beyond.

Natural lighting is best but if you don’t have it, make it work. 

Photographer Trévon James presented images to the audience that prove soft lighting can often be more flattering than harsh lighting. But Jazzmyne Robbins, a Buzzfeed contributor and model, says the lighting doesn’t have to be perfect to capture a great photo. “If it’s a superbright day or the lighting is super blown out, like, lean into that,” says Robbins. “Do like a cool angle: Make it super ’80s or 90s, don’t try to do something that’s not there, lean into your environment.”

When in doubt (for how to pose), dance!

“Movement and posing are what make a picture,” says Maxey Green, a plus-size fashion expert and model. “Models aren’t really doing that hand-on-hip pose anymore; it’s all about fluid movements. I like to call modeling a dance. When there’s a photographer on you, you’re performing a dance with them and you really are just going to be moving your body the whole time. And even if you have a friend who is just snapping you on their phone, you can do slow movements. … Get creative, it’s all about movement, don’t stand still. We want to see your body! We want to see your curves.”

Use makeup to highlight your favorite features — but don’t overdo it. 

In the age of Kim Kardashian and her selfie-loving fam, it’s tempting to load on the makeup. But Tatiana Ward, a celebrity makeup artist and educator, says that might be the wrong move. “In terms of taking selfies, I always like less makeup. I think it’s more flattering. I think it allows me to be seen instead of just my makeup to be seen,” says Ward. “I try to be subtle about what I’m doing. I try to have a focal point — max two focal points, and that for me is always lips and lashes. I don’t want somebody to say, ‘Whoa your eyebrows are amazing!’ I want somebody to say: ‘You look pretty.'”

Learn to smize (that’s right, smize).

One of the things the panelists seem to agree on — despite varying takes on posing — was that a good smize is always a win. Smizing, as Maxey Green explains, is “smiling with your eyes.” Green says she learned the move from Tyra Banks and that she simply uses the muscle near her eyebrows to lift her eyes. Kelly Augustine, a fashion and beauty blogger, is also a big fan of smizing — and has great advice for how to pull it off. “Think about someone you’re lusting for, or think about bae,” says Augustine. “How would you be if bae was in front of you? You have on your outfit, you’re looking cute, go for it.” “Your most confident self,” James adds. “That look.”

Let your personality shine through your clothes. 

Although makeup, posture, and lighting are all important, it’s the wardrobe where Augustine thinks you can really shine. “I have a thing for rings, big earrings, and animal print, so I love to have a lot of it on. But speak to your personality and be natural. … I love to mix textures and colors, I also love to do black and white, it’s a vibe,” says Augustine. “Weather in New York changes so much, so next week I might have on a fur coat. I don’t like to tell people what other people are doing, I don’t recommend trying to replicate, because it will show. This job we’re doing is intense, and it gets exhausting to be someone else — so don’t do it.”

P.S. Don’t be afraid of apps. 

While some of the panelists (specifically Robbins!), swear by using Instagram alone, others on the panel said that using apps can help to clarify backgrounds or smooth over things you don’t like. The three main recommendations: Priime, Facetune, and Snapseed. But if you use them, don’t overdo it. “The goal is to make you a more polished version of yourself,” says Ward. “But I’m 35, and I’m doing it — ain’t no shame in my game.”

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