John Kolkman Photography | My First Look at Pageant Photography!

My First Look at Pageant Photography!

March 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

For the best photogenic photos you can get look at these tips! Taken from different websites I found that made a lot of sense to may already know most of this so just take a look and let me know it you think other things work! 

Body Angle

There are several tricks to looking good in a picture. I’ll start with your body. The first thing you do is turn to a 45 degree angle to the camera. If you remember all those professional photographs from school or your “growing up” pictures, you’ll notice that they had you turned at a slight angle. This angle makes you look thinner. If you are standing, assume the “T” stance used in pageants. This will automatically turn your body.

Hand on Hip

Now that you are standing at an angle, put your hand on your hip. This is also a great trick to make your waist appear smaller. With your arm down, it widens your silhouette. By raising your arm, now your waist is more evident. Next, take a deep breath and let it out leaving your chest and shoulders where they fall. This improves your posture and pulls your stomach in. Now you look five pounds lighter.

Deep Breath

After you take a deep breath, your face should relax, too. This will help avoid that skin tight smile and wide eyed look. Tilt your head slightly to the middle of the picture. So if you are on the right side of the group, lean your head to the left. While you are leaning your head, jut your chin slightly forward and down to eliminate that double chin. This serves two purposes; it gets rid of the double chin and gently stretches the skin under the eye minimizing any puffiness or wrinkles you may have. I recommend you practice in a mirror to find just the right angle and how far you need to stick your chin out.

The Photographer

The most important aspect to taking a good picture is getting a good photographer. I am not talking about hiring a professional photographer to follow you around, however, if you can afford one, I say “go for it!” Try to choose someone taller than you are. This is another great trick of a good photographer.

By shooting from above, it automatically causes you to look up and pull your chin up also. If you notice someone shooting the picture from their waist or chest, ask them to hold the camera up higher. Usually, this is done by people who need reading glasses. They are holding the camera far enough away to see the picture. Simply ask them to hold it up to their face and not look at the camera, but the people beyond.


Lighting can be one of the trickiest parts of picture taking. With out having all the studio lighting, you can end up with bad color and annoying shadows. Try taking the picture without a flash first. Also, if you need a flash, make sure you are not standing near a wall. Have the “photographer” back up just a bit. You can crop the picture later.


This brings me to one of the most important tools you have if you are using a digital camera. When you download your pictures to your computer, take a few minutes to go through them and use your photo software to edit your pictures. Most have a simple auto adjust that will adjust the color of the picture. Then you can also crop pictures to a more flattering size. Remember to use your red eye adjustment. Most people with light eyes need help in this area. No one likes to look demon possessed.


Now that you have fantastic photos, feel free to post them to your blog, Facebook and websites. Be sure to tag people and write a short note about the picture. Many people who will view your pictures won’t know what is going on in the picture, so don’t assume they will just because you tagged someone. Remember that in this day and age, your potential judges for your next pageant may be viewing your pictures. Only post good pictures of yourself. Please no inappropriate pictures, but that is another article.

If you’re a pageant girl, it’s likely that you enjoy being in front of a camera. From photo-shoots to appearances, to Mom’s scrapbook, lights are constantly being flashed around you; however, just like everything else, there are do’s and dont’s. I want your next modeling exhibition to be the best it can be with a few simple tips from the professionals.

Photography has a lot of vocabulary. Lighting, angles, and yes, posing are all a part of the final product. Your job as a candidate for a potential modeling career through pageantry is to know YOU beforehand. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but this simply means know your body type. Posing in photography can be beautiful, if done correctly. For example: I have a full and rounder shaped face. My face is also very symmetrical. This enables me to take straight-on photos well.  On the other hand, taking photos from a profile is not my forte, whereas a friend of mine with higher cheekbones takes them very well. The typical goal in a photograph is to display oneself in the most flattering way. With a few tips, you will be on your way to doing just that.

Best & Worst Pageant Poses for Photographs

The Elongater

This is perfect for all of my vertically challenged ladies out there (I am right there with you)!  This can take you from small to tall instantly! Notice how the model has a casual expression but is using every inch to her advantage and creating an illusion by extending her legs. Granted, she is tall, but this is merely an example of how well this can work for anyone.

The Elongater

The Classic “T”

This pose is a simple and classic move; just take it from our model, Betty Thompson, Miss Oklahoma 2011. Betty is very petite but rocked the swimsuit competition with her fitness and confident spunk. She proves that the classic “T” can do wonders for anyone! It can also be a great position for those who are not extremely comfortable branching out in this round. It is simple yet elegant. It forces you to stand tall and keep the tummy tight. Who doesn’t like that?

“T” Pose

Straight-On Head-shot

As mentioned earlier, the straight-on pageant headshot works well for girls with symmetrical faces. This can, however, also be a beautiful photo for just about anyone. With a winning smile and beautiful cosmetics, the “straight-on” can be a knockout! Notice how the model is engaged with the camera. Her head is tilted slightly to the right from our vantage point,yet completely centered with the lens.


The Don’ts

Unfortunately, there are some positions that are not as flattering for us in front of the camera. Never mind this, we are here to help.

True Hip Grip

The True Hip Grip- I am guilty of this one. I was once told by national titleholder, Kendra Emerson of America’s National Teenager Scholarship Organization (ANTSO), “Never place your hands on your true hips- your pelvis, located beneath your stomach- it cuts you off.” The more I looked into it, the more sense it made. Instead, place your hands for a pose right under your rib cage. This pose, like the “T” forces you to keep your shoulders back.

The Shunner

The Shunner- Now this sounds like a horror movie title… This is the classic “back to the camera” pose. I have seen plenty of beautiful pictures with the model facing backward; however, it is very hard to perfect. This is most commonly seen with the back turned and head craned to face the camera.  Not only does it look odd, it also strains the eyes. A better option would be a slight turn or maybe even a profile. We want to see your pretty face!

Like your gown, shoes and platform choice, a pose has to feel comfortable. You must sell it and make it believable! Modeling is about displaying your beauty and no one can make you pose a certain way without your consent. Do what I do, and practice in the mirror. Yes, it is silly, but nonetheless fun! Now you are on your way to a lovely, statuesque and stoic look for that camera with some of these innovative poses. Remember, please model responsibly.



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