Saturday, March 2, 2013

How to Smize

How to Smize

Smizing is Tyra Banks's secret to a stunning photo. Smizing is considered to be a look that involves smiling not only with your mouth but through using your eyes – smiling with the eyes – hence, "smize".

 The term was coined by Tyra Banks on the thirteenth episode of America's Top Model,[1] and it has infiltrated all modeling photography approaches ever since.
If you're looking to smize, or you're keen to get your photography subjects to smize, here are some insights on how to achieve it.


Relax. One of the major causes of a stiff appearance in photographs is a stiff bodily pose brought about by anxiety and nerves. Seek to remove the tension from your body using deep inhale and exhale exercises (if you're a Pilates, yoga, meditation, or martial arts devotee, you'll already know about doing deep breathing to relax). Shake your body around a little to loosen up; if you can't do this because of the clothing and makeup you're wearing, at least stretch and wriggle as much as you can. Visualize calm scenes in your mind and think peaceful, positive thoughts. The process before you is but one process in life, one of many, and you'll do just fine.

  • In one way, you're aiming for what is known as the "Duchenne smile",[2] which is a genuine smile that pushes up into the eyes. On the other hand, you're trying to create an eye smile without necessarily being genuine, and that is a whole lot harder to do successfully. So you're going to have to rely heavily on relaxing as best you can and entering that happy place on command!

Choose a focus point. It's important that you can center your viewpoint so that your eyes aren't darting about everywhere and creating a sense of being unsettled or uncertain. By selecting a focus point, you have somewhere to aim your look and steady your gaze. People and things to focus on include: the photographer, the camera, the person motivating you behind the photographer, an object at the right height where you've been asked to gaze, or an item of food you really would rather be eating.

Laugh. If the shot is one where you're able to laugh and smile outwardly, then do so. Think of something funny, even if it involves the photographer's clothing or something amusing that's happened to you in the past. If you can't laugh on the outside, laugh inwardly. What other funny things can you conjure up in your mind that will have your body responding with mirth without a mouth smile resulting?
  • Laughing creates a more natural pose because it relaxes and calms you.

Tilt down your chin very slightly. This causes you to have to glare a little from out under your eyelids, in order to feel like you're looking out properly. And this will help achieve the smize look.
  • Don't overdo the chin tilting. This will lose your neck and have your face looking down, rather than gazing with a smolder at those viewing your photo.
  • Tyra also recommends pulling your shoulders down, feeling your head pulled up by a string, and facing forward.[3]

Focus on the mouth. At this stage you'll need the guidance of the photographer. Are you smiling openly with the mouth, giving the mere hint of a smile, or looking awfully serious mouth-wise? It gets harder the more you have to keep your mouth closed but that makes getting the smize right all the more important, so that you still portray the smile in your face even when your mouth isn't complying. If you can, practice the smize with your real smile, a very large forced smile, slightly parted jaw, and closed lips. Your jaw should be just open enough for you to stick the tip of your tongue between your teeth. Do this in front of the mirror to see how your face responds each time to the smize and until you find the best look for your photos (unless you're a model, in which case you'll need to get each of the mouth positions perfected).
  • Avoid pouting. Reminiscent of something goats do during mating season, the pout doesn't look that sexy on most people unless they're really adept at getting the angle right pulling a total look together. Pouts are for petulant people in a tantrum mindset; leave it out of your mouth shaping skills.

Prepare your eyes. The first thing to practice is a little squint that only uses the eye muscles and no other facial muscles. Practice this in front of the mirror until you feel you are able to perform a small eye squint without disturbing the rest of your face.
  • Don't stare; you will notice as you attempt the smize, your temples shift back if you're getting right because you're actually slightly reshaping the expression and shape of your eyes themselves. And the only way to really have that happen is to let the upper facial muscles move ever so slightly as you position the gaze, and then not move again! Just keep practicing – and watch videos of Tyra Banks doing it. For example, in this video:, you can see Tyra Banks' face change ever so slightly in the upper region as she shifts herself into the smizing position after what she terms the staring position.

Smize. Once you've practiced the various parts of the face separately, put it all together and start to smize. Once again, use a mirror when you're first learning so that you can see what look you're achieving (or not achieving). Squint just a little (a lot less than your practice in the step before), allow the hunger seep out of your gaze, and focus on the point you've chosen with all the happy longing and smouldering in the world.
  • Seek to exude warmth from your eyes. Without warmth, your eyes will appear soulless and empty.
  • Don't think "cheese" - think "smize".
  • Try to stay natural in your mindset. While you might be dolled up to the nth degree, you can at least exude that quality of being natural in whatever state the makeup artists have placed you.

Be effusive and playful. Even if you can't actually look like a kitten rolling around with a ball of yarn, have fun with what you're doing. This takes you right back to the first step of being relaxed but it also involves lifting up your energy and spirit with playfulness and a sense of fun in all that you're doing. If you're enjoying yourself because you've chosen to find it fun, this will shine through into the photos. Cameras don't lie even if the airbrusher does; it will pick up your inner sense of fun if you're willing to let it shine through.
  • Messing around and having fun results in a natural and yet alluring photo; it shows that you're a little devil-may-care, in control of your destiny, and confident all at once, and that's sexy. Just be sure that messing around falls in line with your photographer's deadlines.