Avoid the Big Nose, Giant Head, and Devil Eyes this Holiday Season

It is so much fun to point, shoot and instantly post your photographs on Facebook or Twitter. I really enjoy seeing them, but there are some pretty gawdawful pictures out there. Let me help you banish the bleak, delete the delinquent, and take a better photo this holiday season. Your friends and family won’t be horrified when they find themselves tagged in snapshots with enormous faces or bodies that are freakishly distorted.

Roxydoodle big nose

Don’t be the overexposed “big nose” this holiday season. Right Roxy?

Ten Tips for taking better pictures:

#1. Step away from your friends. Make sure you are at least 6-12 feet away from the subject when taking a photo and using the flash. Even though it looks like everyone has a tiny little pinhead, you can import the file and crop it down in Picmonkey. See! Their heads aren’t so small anymore. I know. It’s a Christmas miracle.

#2. a. Don’t use a flash. Try using ambient light. Looking possessed in a photo is disturbing to say the least. Even when using the red-eye feature, you can end up looking like you are in a devilish cult of aliens.

devil eye photo

My friend’s photo. Me, Richelle, Annette, Sally and Jen with devil eyes. Muahahahaha!

b. Try different settings. If there isn’t enough ambient light, set your camera for low light without the flash. Remember to reset your camera to automatic afterwards, otherwise your outdoor pictures will look like they were taken one mile away from the sun.

fun with the girls

My photo after cropping. The eye reflection isn’t as bad even though a flash was used since the photo was taken from farther away.

#3. Avoid the big-headed moon face. If you have to use a flash when taking a group picture, stand more than 6 feet away from the closest person or their face will be huge compared to the rest and will reflect the flash. No one wants to be the “big head.” See Roxy’s photo above. Every camera has a slightly different flash intensity, so experiment with distance between you and your subject to get the optimal lighting.

#4. Step away from the table. Like tip #1, only more disastrous. Never take a closeup photo of someone while they are sitting down and perpendicular to you. The edges of the photo could stretch your subject out so your poor friend or family member will look like they have an enormous butt, arm or hunchback.

Kelly big arm

My son Kelly with one giant arm and one itty bitty arm…

#5. Use the self-timer. Taking photos of yourself while holding the camera will distort you. I got a complex from all the pictures and videos I took of myself at arm’s length last summer. I didn’t realize that the camera foreshortened my face, making my nose look enormous.

#6. a. Signal to your friends before taking a picture. For example: “On the count of three. One. Two. Three.” Don’t snap it on “one” or “two” like my husband Danny. He has an itchy trigger finger. I am usually caught babbling with my mouth open.

b. For God’s sake don’t ever talk or move if you are about to have your picture taken. I did both in this picture with Louie Vito. I wrote my crazy story about him last year. Notice how Louie already knew this tip.

louie and ugly picture of me

Moving + Talking = Distorted photo

Another do over with Louie Vito

Hey. There’s always Microsoft Paint.

#7. Take pictures at eye level. Trust me. Just do it. Okay, okay. I will give you a few examples. If you take the shot from above your subject, their gray roots or bald spot could become the focal point. Again there is this crazy distortion that takes place and it could give them a giant forehead. Taking a shot from below eye level could make their nostrils look like landing docks for space ships.

Joe clowning around

My brother took this photo of himself last summer with my unattended camera. I knew I could use it sometime. Thanks Joe!

#8. Reposition your subject. If you want Aunt Merna’s new tattoo to show up in the photo, direct Uncle George to tilt his head away from her cleavage.

#9. Straighten your photos. You don’t want to look like you are on the deck of the Titanic. Your friends could get a stiff neck from looking at your photos.

Susie Lindau

Cropped and straightened photo taken with self-timer and flash.

#10. If you take one of those gawdawful nasty-like photographs, please use the delete button. So what if you are the only one who looks good. If your friends and family look like ginormous, stretched out, zombie-eyed freaks, watch your back. They are snapping a lot of holiday pictures too.

Do you take a lot of photographs during the holidays?

Do you have any tips to add to the list?

Devil-eyed photo taken with an iPhone. Other photos taken with a Nikon Coolpix S205 camera

91 thoughts on “Avoid the Big Nose, Giant Head, and Devil Eyes this Holiday Season

    • Thank you so much Sheri and congratulations to you!
      I am glad that you have met other bloggers during those crazy Use Me and Abuse Me Days!
      Thanks again for thinking of me.
      I hope you are enjoying your holiday week!


  1. I always liked having the devil’s eyes in pictures when my kids were younger. It kept them in line. As time went on, my picture taking skills improved greatly…I just bought cameras for everyone else and let them do it.


  2. I wish I had more time to practice photography. These tips will come in handy though, now that Christmas is right around the corner and I’ll have the kids home all the time for a week! :)


  3. How beautiful are you in that green scarf?!? Fabulous post, Susie. :) My best tip is take candid shots. I love them, and borderline hate the posey stuff. You and your crew did a great job of capturing spirit and personality–wahoo! That’s, I believe, what counts.


    • Thank you August! My dad always takes candids and catches us with the most horrid expressions since our faces are contorted from talking or moving. I think there must be a trick to it!
      Go Christmas Spirit!


    • Thank you! I was really surprised, but I set it at eye level and it magically avoided my usual huge nostrils or enormous forehead pictures that I detest! :)
      I will have to remember the chin up, chest out thing. I often am caught hunching over ….. not good! Thanks for the tip! :)


  4. Great post, Susie. I think I’ve picked up a few of these through the years. The problem is that it takes time checking the picture to see if it needs a redo and your ‘subjects’ aren’t always willing to hang around for that process. Everyone is always in a hurry these days. So I have a lot of good and not so good pictures. As for me, I never look good on film no matter what. I guess that’s my gift. Boo.


    • I thought that I got some great pictures of you! You are beautiful!
      You are right about checking to see what you capture and then trying to get another photo before everyone leaves. Right now, I have the slowest camera known to man. Maybe Santa will bring me new one…
      The other problem is that in low light I really need reading glasses to see if everyone has their eyes open. Who am I kidding. I need them in good light too! Hahaha!
      Thanks Debra!


  5. My go-to tip is to remain silent and swift, ninja-like even, when photographing a toddler. Most pictures of my sweet boy are blurry snapshots half-blurred by his tiny fingers grabbing for the camera!


    • I bet they are lovely! I really enjoy going through those pictures now that my kids are in their 20’s! It goes fast!
      You are right about being fast. I need to get a new camera that is quicker between shots!
      Thanks Tori!


    • Hahaha! That is so funny. I remember lots of pictures like that too.
      One time when we were getting a photo taken on a mountain on a really sunny day two miles high, the photographer said, “close your eyes and open them when I say three.” How brilliant is that! No squinting!


    • Thanks so much Patricia!
      My brother cracks me up. I had no idea he took those random photos ( there were 4 of them), until I was back home in Colorado. He says that he does that with any unattended cameras. I will have to make sure to leave mine laying around when we see him again in January!


  6. Great tips and awesomesauce photos, Susie. I took note of decorating ideas to add to my house next year. ;-) And, your festive wear. Tres chic, chiquita!

    My poor pooches. Beautiful, dark brown Lab eyes, turn green in most photos. Those might be handy for Beware of Dog signs, but little else. You’re right. The red-eye correction doesn’t do the job.

    Question. I take pictures of mounted pictures for my glob — wonky things often found in Bucca De Beppo restrooms, out-of-the-way one-off restaurant signs, etc. What do I look for in terms of lighting to ensure a clean shot without flashback?

    I would remove the glass cover from the pics, but I already drag chairs around to get eye-to-eye with the pictures. There’s only so much these places tolerate. Trust me. I know.


    • The red-eye is not all it’s cracked up to be. First I would try taking the photo with no flash. If it is not grainy. but dark you can always lighten it up in an editing program like PicMonkey. Otherwise I would try setting your camera on low light and see if that works. Phones and cameras have that setting, but it takes a thorough search to find it!
      What about using your phone for extra light and a compact camera to take the picture without a flash?
      Let me know if any of these ideas work for you!
      Thanks Gloria!


  7. Thoughtful photo tips Susie that I will try to keep in the forefront of my cluttered mind while clutching my point and shoot. I tend to post images of people on my site only if it adds to the narrative of the post. The human being has been over-exposed so I try to focus more on objects, the urban wilderness and under-appreciated sights like ceiling mold.


    • You are right. I really don’t appreciate ceiling mold like I probably should. :)
      I am not a professional photographer as you know, but I thought this may help people and their unsuspecting friends and family members!
      Thanks V!


    • Thanks! Well I had to post that nasty one again, but I thought it would be funny to stick a new photo on it! Hahaha!
      Oh no! At all times? I should with some of the pictures I see of myself… :)


    • That is so helpful of you! Hahaha! I haven’t always been so lucky. I could have died last summer when a relative posted a really distorted and ugly picture of me taken too close and sitting down.. Some how I survived… :)


  8. Number 2 is a problem. I’ve tried everything but their eyes always look possessed. That would explain the pentagrams and pictures of Aliestair Crowley. Funny, they don’t have a Christmas tree.


  9. I try to use natural light. I have taken pictures with the lights on and off the tree and prefer the lights off – distracts from the people in the photo and sometimes does some weird back lighting to the people too. Great tips – thanks for sharing! Have a Great One:)


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