How to Look Terrific in Vacation Photos-13 Tips to Try Now

How to Look Terrific in Vacation Photos-13 Tips to Try Now

You’ve spent a fortune on the trip and you want to capture the memories. You want to have mementos of the vacation; To print them out and frame them and to share on social media with your family and friends. And you want to make sure you look your best, naturally. But we all have those pictures that make us think…”Ugh, if only I’d done this” before I said, “Cheese!” Here are my 13 tips for looking your best in vacation photos.

Turn at an angle.


Rather than squaring your body straight at the camera, turn your feet slightly sideways. Twisting a bit at the hips or even turning to look over one shoulder is very flattering to the figure. A bend in one knee is also flattering (rather than locking your legs straight). You don’t want to look awkward, so practice this in front of a full length mirror to find the most natural and comfortable pose.

Lift your arms slightly away from your body.

Ugh, upper arm squished against the body is very unflattering!

Ugh, upper arm squished against the body is very unflattering!

Nothing like seeing your upper arms flattened against the side of your body in a photo to make you think you need to take up more weight lifting. Arms never look great when their flat against your body so keep them loose and slightly away but still look natural.


I like the one-hand-on-hip look myself. I place the other hand against the side of my thigh to put a bend in my elbow so my upper arm is away from my body.

Wear lipstick.

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At the very least, a bit of color on your lips will help brighten your face. Curling your lashes, a swipe of mascara and adding a bit of blush to your cheek bones is icing on the cake. I also like to use an eyebrow pencil to define my brow as this helps to frame my eyes.

Tip your chin up and to the side.

Nobody wants a double-chin in photos, enough said!


And with that in mind, when taking selfie shots, always shoot from above, never from below the chin. Have the tallest person hold the camera and take the photo.

Take off your hat.


If only I’d taken my hat off!


Hats create unflattering shadows on your face. If you can, take the hat off. Of course then you might have hat-hair to deal with. Consider a quick brush out before snapping the shot so your hair isn’t matted or flat. The photo here was taken of me at Walt Disney World last spring when my luggage was lost on the airline. I had no hairbrush and no make-up. I bought the hat to cover up! But the brim cast a heavy shadow on my face, which is unfortunate because it’s the only picture I got of me in front of the castle!

Face the light but shoot in open shade.


“Dappled sunlight” creates unflattering shadows

Avoid “sun dappled” areas where the sunlight is spotty or you’ll have a dark and light issue in your photo.

Bright sunshine casts unnatural shadows on the face & makes everyone squint.

Bright sunshine casts unnatural shadows on the face & makes everyone squint.

And bright glaring sunlight is not only unflattering but it also makes you squint!


A sunny location under covered shade gives skin a smooth appearance & sparkle to the eyes.

Seek a sunny location but one that’s under shade like a tree or the edge of a building. Then make sure you’re turned towards the light so the face and eyes are best flattered. You’ll be able to see “catch light” spots on the eyes (they’ll be bright and sparkling).

Pretty catch lights in the eyes

Pretty catch lights in the eyes

Take some shots posed and some natural.

Yes, the posed shots are wonderful, if you can get everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time!


But some of my favorite shots are of my family walking ahead of me. I’m able to capture the scene, the background, and still get my family in the photo.


Or just catch a shot of them laughing or chatting, you might capture your favorite moments.


“Hide” in back.


I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of my bottom half so if I can conceal that in a family photo, I will. However at only 5’2″ tall, I’m usually placed in front of photos (and my big kids are nearly as tall as I am!) I like that this arrangement allowed my tall husband to squat in front with our little one and for me to “hide” a bit behind.

I’m not hiding though. You know you’ve seen those photos, where only someone’s face is showing because they are holding tight to the person in front of them to block themselves. This is just strategic placement so it looks natural.

Take more than one.

In the age of digital, feel free to take several shots of the same scene to optimize your chances of getting your favorite shot.

Selective cropping.


Don’t like what you see below the waist? Crop the photo. I wasn’t terribly happy that my post-baby weight was still lingering in this shot so I edited the full body shot and cropped mid-thigh for an image I like better. I have a full-bosom-ed friend who always recommends a crop “mid-boob” for the most flattering frame.

Delete at home, not in camera.

Once you get the photo uploaded and see that there is nothing truly salvageable, feel free to delete. But if you can save part of the image by cropping or correcting, keep it, fix and save.

A bit of lightening & sharpening can do wonders!

Dark and shadowy with a strange backlight.

Dark and shadowy with a strange backlight.

I have some presets in Photoshop that do all the work for me. I quite often “cool” an image by adding a bit of blue, lightening, sharpening or even brightening the shadows on the eyes. I just click and run the preset and then scale back the percentage until the image looks like I want it to.


Practice at home.

If you consistently dislike how you look in photos, practice at home pre-vacation in front of the mirror. Practice different poses and smiles until you are comfortable. Then have someone takes some photos of you at home so you can see which look you prefer.