Barack Obama and the Art of the Flattering Vacation Photo
…On a yacht
Not to be sexist, ageist, generalist, hyperbolic and sort of rude, but men cannot take iPhone photos. Not very well, at least. Especially not when you love your outfit.
But Barack Obama is different.
This photo of Barack Obama taking Michelle’s picture to capture her vacation-OOTD is circulating the internet. The town is freaking out because it’s adorable, everyone misses them and also because it means Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Springsteen are nearby. My takeaway is that Barack’s an excellent photographer who has honed his skills thanks to a female-centric household.
Here’s what all men, especially significant others, dads and random street strangers who get stopped by groups of teen girls in front of social media opportunities, can learn from the photo above.
1. BACK THE FUCK UP!!!!
Men are human zoom lenses. Hand your phone to a dude and he will stand with the camera about an inch away from your nose. He will also lose his hearing as you and your friends shout “BACK UP!!!!!” Not Barack. Not only does he stand an appropriate three yards or so away from his subject, he tilts back slightly. This allows Michelle to relax, pose and get comfortable. It also lessens the chance of capturing unflattering angles and literally every pore on your subject’s face.
2. Position your subject under a bit of shade (nature’s contour stick) and avoid back-lit scenery.
The stage is yours if it’s golden hour, however. Golden hour is the equivalent of the Snapchat “pretty filter” on steroids.
3. The camera lens should ALWAYS be taller than your subject.
Unless you are a trained professional photographer shooting a trained professional model, you should NEVER, EVER be lower than your subject, especially with an iPhone. No one wants an up-nostril, double-chin shot.
Above, Barack Obama demonstrates the perfect height. You can draw a straight, slightly downward-sloping line from the top of the phone to Michelle Obama’s eyes. This allows her to drop her chin and look up a bit, just like Haley in the photo everyone liked and also just like Seventeen taught me in their “how to take a good graduation photo” article that I read 12 years ago and still refer to.
Remember to take both horizontal and vertical shots.
4. Steady your hands.
No one wants a blurry picture. The easiest way to remedy this is to use two hands. With his hands at an appropriate ten and two, Barack Obama greatly reduces any chance of shaking.
5. Have your subject try a variety of poses and continue to snap their photo while transitioning from one post to another.
A good posed photo is an important skill to master, but the shot everyone wants is the casual candid. Have your subject shift her weight, look left and right, fidget with her jewelry or clothes and do different things with her arms and legs. Tell your subject to fake laugh so that she does it, feels awkward and then really laughs. All the while, hold your finger on the shutter and take no less than one million photos. There is sure to be a candid gem somewhere in there; this is the one that always gets selected.
You may never have a love like Barack and Michelle Obama’s, but with these tips, you are at least 50% less likely to get yelled at or have your efforts deleted the moment you walk away, only to be replaced by at 12 year old the next time someone hands you their iPhone for a photo.
Photo via Getty Images.