My husband is 6’1”, my son 5’9”, and my daughter 5’10. You know what that makes me? Five-foot-three and desperate to look like I breathe in the same atmospheric layer as they do, especially when we take a family photo.
So how do we petites put ourselves on equal footing (so to speak) in snapshots with our taller loved ones? Here are some tips!
Up as in upwards. Think vertical lines, grabbing your viewer’s eye and compelling it to move up and down your frame to elongate it, instead of across, which shortens you. You can do this by wearing actual vertical stripes (which can be quite cute if subtle and there isn’t otherwise a lot of pattern going on in the photo). But you can also do it in a more sophisticated way through careful consideration of cut and color. Think monochromatic looks that help define your shape. Emma (below) is all of 5’ tall and absolutely rocking head-to-toe red.
Short Story Tip: Take note of the slit in her pants, the to-the-floor hemline, her arm position: All vertical lines.
Choosing your outfit
Like layers? Well-fitting clothes in related tones and varied textures (like a seafoam green v-neck blouse, teal denim, and a turquoise nubby cardigan) are flattering and will in turn make you feel more confident. Neutrals are classic: A short, cropped jacket in tan lends structure to a winter white sweater dress in Jean Wang’s outfit. The subtle ribbing over coffee-colored tights and boots lengthens her. No tights for you? Achieve a similar vertical vibe with stilettos (you only have to squeeze your feet into them for the photo!) or low-vamp shoes (those that show toe cleavage) to have legs for miles. My favorite option: skin-toned mules with about a 2” stack or block heel so I don’t sink into grass.
Short Story Tip: As for the rest of your people, you all don’t need to be matchy-matchy but the more solids in everyone’s outfits, the better for the photo overall.
Position your people
First, consider sitting folks down. If your partner is way taller than you, seat them on a stool that cuts the usual vertical distance between you two and then drape your arms over their shoulders. Or seat yourself “uphill” from your partner. Similarly, stand on some steps and put yourself on a higher one, your partner one lower. If there are no seats or steps around, stand taller people in the center and towards the back to anchor the shot, then stagger the shorter people in front or on the sides. It’s much more pleasing to have varying heights in a photo than a straight line of heads.
Short Story Tip: Try not to stand right next to the tallest person and pose outdoors to stay away from everyday objects like standard-size doors that instantly give away your height.
Take your shots
Different schools of thought here, and it really depends a lot on how the subjects are positioned, so try different angles. Shoot from below and everyone looks taller and leggier. That’s all most people want to hear, but shooting from below can create double chins where there aren’t any. Shooting from above defines chins and jawlines but can make petites appear even shorter compared to the others in the photo (again, depends a lot on how people are arranged), so play around with where people are standing if you have the time for that (and can bribe them with candy!). Whatever you do, make sure you get multiple shots so you have plenty of options to choose from.
Short Story Tip: If shooting from below is your preference, don’t pose with your chin drawn back unless you want triple chins! Instead, draw your chin up and over an imaginary tennis ball, elongating your neck.
Practice perfect posing (or don’t)
The chin thing mentioned above is an intermediate move. The basics: Good posture is key! Every celebrity and influencer crosses one foot in front of the other, stands at a slight angle, or walks in photos because it always looks good. What to do with your hands? Relax them, placing one above your natural waist if you have a long torso; a bit lower than your waist if you have a short torso. Again, see Emma in the red outfit above.
Short Story Tip: There’s a lot to be said for just connecting naturally with your fellow subjects: Hug someone; look at each other instead of the camera; hold the little ones or a pet. The more at ease you are, the better.
And if all else fails...
Take some selfies! It’s about the moment, after all. The people you’re sharing your photo with just want to see you enjoying each other.
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*cover photo: cute & little