Let’s try an experiment. Hop on Facebook and look at your friends’ photos. Open up your family album and look at the eyes. Do you ever get the sense that your friends or family members look like they’re about to be hit by a car, with their ‘deer in headlights’ look?
Now, people don’t generally walk around with their eyes fully open, so why do we do this when getting our photograph taken? In most cases, it’s simply a matter of nerves; we clench up and open our eyes a ridiculous amount, resulting in a decidedly unnatural, unsexy photo that lacks confidence.
Think about your favorite celebrities and how their eyes look when they’re posing for the camera in a magazine or on the red carpet. Do they look scared or lack confidence? Of course not!
So how do you rid yourself of the reflex to fully open your eyes in pictures? Why do celebrities tend to look so relaxed and confident? According to guest lecturer Peter Hurley who taught at the New York Film Academy’s photography school in Los Angeles, this is because they have most likely mastered the art of the “squinch.”
For photography students at both our New York and Los Angeles campus, this is a crucial tool that can help set them apart from their peers.
A term coined by Hurley himself, squinching is a simple, but essential technique for actors, models, and anyone who wants to take a good photograph that exudes self-assurance. Hurley has spent decades helping his subjects attain that perfect balance of relaxation and poise that radiates from their eyes.
Breaking it down, squinching is a combination of squinting and pinching your lower eyelids. Rather than going full squint and nearly closing both eyelids, squinching involves bringing down one’s top eyelid very slightly and pinching the bottom eyelid to create a smoldering look that exudes coolness.
Getting down to the details, let’s get scientific for a moment. The eyes are surrounded by a muscle called the orbicularis oculi and is what shuts and holds tight one’s eyes; simply put, it’s how your eyes are able to squint. In terms of the pinching side of the equation, there is a palpebral ligament that runs across the bottom of your eye and that you can learn how to control to create the pinching effect. So by learning to control these two elements, you’ll be a master of squinching in no time.
Of course, as with any aspect of modeling, squinching requires constant practice so that it almost becomes second nature. In fact, most of us squinch on almost a daily basis, but it is only once we’re in front of a camera that we need to teach ourselves how to take conscious control of our muscles and ligaments to get the perfect picture. Essentially, it is a matter of pinching the lower eyelids enough so that there is little to no signs of white beneath the eyes. And one can take the squinch to the next level simply by smiling, which adds a relaxed tone to the confident eyes.
And the most exciting aspect of the squinching method is that absolutely anyone can do it. After all, no one’s eyes look the same, but everyone possesses the same muscles and ligaments that allow them to master the squinch. So regardless of your ethnicity, the squinch is a tool you can most definitely use during your next photo shoot.
With just some concentrated practice and understanding of how one can obtain a squinch, you can move away from the instinctual ‘deer in headlights’ eyes to a look that exudes confidence and sexiness.