Okay, I have to chime in here. Photos can be a great motivator and a wake-up call and if that's what it does for you- great. But if you see a photo of yourself and it just bums you out- don't worry because Photos Do Lie.!!!! Absolutely.
I've been a full-time photographer for about 7 years and trust me, I've made 6' 120 pound models look absolutely ginourmous on accident by using the wrong lens (or maybe that's the right lens
). Lenses, angle, lighting, and simply the fact of taking a 3 dimensional object and turning it into 2 dimensions distorts reality. And you know, some perfectly good looking people, no matter what you do, look horrible on camera. And some very average plain janes and joes can look fantastic on camera if they have the right facial structure or know how to pose. It's interesting really. And the photographer matters too, if it didn't I would be out of a job!
LOL about standing sideways beside someone larger! The turning sideways tip is great though. And that actually works because it provides some dimension and curve to the body. Not just to hide parts. Being shot from straight on, without your shoulders twisted or body a bit twisted. yikes! It would make anyone look like she's gained 50 pounds. And notice you will hardly every see a professional model shot with shoulders and waist straight on. I would never shoot anyone like that.
A few other tips:
those point and shoot flashes make everyone's complexions look awful, so don't worry about it. Light doesn't even exist like that in reality except for in a thunderstorm.
If you do have to get your photo taken with tiny sisters-in-law, stand slightly behind them, not to hide behind them, but you will looks smaller in the frame, and twist your body in a quarter turn. And stay in the center of the frame. People on the edges of the frame look bigger than the ones in the center.
Getting shot from above is more flattering at times, than being shot from below.
People who look great on camera are often just confident and happy in their own skin or can exude that in front of the lens. Have good posture and look at the camera like it's your favorite person.
Exxageration can read really well in a photo. So it may feel like you're puffing out cocking your hips and vamping it up, but on camera it might look great. But be careful with that one and maybe practice looks in the mirror
A telephoto lens does wonders to make someone look thinner, a wide angle spreads things out. So stand across the room and let them zoom in!