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Celebrity Photo Op Ideas: How to Prep and Pose for the Perfect Shot

Need photo op ideas for taking a picture with your favorite celebrity?  Learn everything you need to prepare for your photo op including outfit selection, posing, and what to expect from the photo op experience.

Katie Moseman and Lucy Lawless Portrait from Megacon celebrity photo op

Xena and Me

Celebrity Photo Op Ideas: How to Prep and Pose for the Perfect Shot

I’d never considered paying to have a picture taken with a celebrity before, but the presence of Lucy Lawless on the MegaCon schedule was enough to make me change my mind.  MegaCon is a science-fiction themed convention that features guest speakers, autograph opportunities, shopping, cosplay (dressing up in elaborate character costumes), and, of course, photo ops with celebrities.

I didn’t know what to expect from a celebrity photo op.  All I knew was that it would cost me $80 for the photo op ticket (which was separate from my $40 one-day convention pass), and that I needed to show up at the appointed place at 2:40 pm.  So I began searching for information on the photo op experience by reading articles about celebrity photo op ideas.

I learned that many convention visitors are already experienced with photo ops.  In many of the articles I read, it was assumed that you’d already done at least one.  There was less information available for people who had never been to a convention photo op before.  I resolved to take notes about my first photo op experience so I could write a photo op ideas guide to help other first-timers prepare.  The celebrity photo op ideas below are a direct result of my experience getting my picture taken with Lucy Lawless at MegaCon.

Celebrity Photo Ops Area Sign at Megacon

Banner over the celebrity photo op area

Purchase tickets ASAP

Don’t wait.  Popular photo ops will sell out, and you have to have a convention ticket to get to the photo op, so you might as well purchase both ahead of time.  If you want to have your photo signed as well (assuming it’s printed immediately on location), go ahead and purchase an autograph ticket, but make sure the autograph session takes place after your scheduled photo session.

Plan your look before you go

The best way to plan for this photo is to think of it as a yearbook photo.  There is a strong flash and the camera is high resolution.  Every aspect of your face, hair, and clothing will be illuminated and recorded in detail, so plan accordingly.  Faded clothing will look faded.  Forehead shine will be very shiny.  At the same time, you’ll be wearing the same outfit to walk around a convention all day, so you want to be comfortable.  If you can go casually dressy without sacrificing comfort, do so.  If you wear a t-shirt, pick one that’s on the newer side.

Women who are comfortable with makeup should, at minimum, wear a lip color to prevent being washed out and a face powder to prevent shine.  Although my usual makeup routine consists of lipstick and nothing else, for the photo op day I added my favorite eye circle concealer, a blend of two eyeshadows to create dimension, and translucent powder to set the eye makeup (the powder was also suitable for the rest of my face to prevent shine).  If I only had one shot to look good, I wanted to look as good as possible.

Practice your pose at home

I did not realize how extremely fast paced the photo op would be.  My appointed time was at 3:00 pm, and by 3:04 pm, I was holding a printout of the photo in my hands.  My actual time spent posing for the photo with Lucy Lawless clocked in at 5 seconds.  There was no time even to say “Hello!” or “Thank you!”  The photo op employees kept the line moving very quickly, which is nice in that you don’t have much of a wait (if any), but not so nice if you were expecting to chat with your chosen celebrity.  Some people find this aspect of the experience disappointing.  If you know what to expect, you won’t be surprised.

Because of the speed of the transaction, you won’t have time to adjust your pose.  You must step on the mark, smile, and then exit the area immediately.  I suggest that you practice posing ahead of time.  At home, set up your smartphone camera on a timer in selfie mode, and prop it up on a shelf or use a tripod to hold it steady.

Tap the shutter button, then step into the frame so that your body is visible from your face down to your knees.  Pose and smile while the shutter clicks.  Repeat until you can consistently produce a flattering pose and a natural smile without thinking about it.  I made a mental checklist for my pose: quarter turn to the body, head held erect, shoulders down, spine lengthened, front knee slightly bent.  If you have a friend or family member stand in for the celebrity, it will help you become comfortable with striking your pose alongside another person rather than by yourself.

Many convention fan sites recommend trying goofy poses.  If this is your first photo op, I recommend that you don’t try to pull off a special pose request.  Stick to the standard pose and make it look great; you can always get fancy next time.

Show up ready at your scheduled photo op time

There are sometimes long lines for the restrooms at conventions, so head to the restroom well ahead of your scheduled time for one last check in the mirror.  There is often a small mirror in the photo op holding area, but the line moves so fast you probably won’t even have time to look at it.  Restroom paper towels are perfect for gently blotting away oil from your forehead, nose, and chin; use them!  In a pinch, toilet tissue will also work.  If you’re wearing makeup, touch up now.  Adjust your clothing and hair as needed.

You may have two times listed on your ticket.  My ticket listed a time to report to the celebrity photo op area (2:40 pm) followed by the actual photo session time.  When I arrived, I was directed by the staff to join a specific color-coded queue along with several hundred other people.

Celebrity Photo Op queue at Megacon - Celebrity photo op ideas

Photo op waiting area


Things will move very quickly once you enter the photo area.  Photo op personnel will take your bag (if you have one).  You’ll be able to see the parties ahead of you getting their photos taken.  Within seconds, you will be called forward.  You’ll step forward and (hopefully) strike the perfect pose, and then you’ll be ushered quickly out of the photo area.  Many operations will have your print ready to pick up within minutes.  After I picked up my photo, I walked to a nearby booth to purchase an inexpensive plastic sleeve to protect it.

All in all, I was very glad I had planned ahead.  The photo turned out beautifully, and because I had read about the process ahead of time, I wasn’t shocked or disheartened by the assembly-line approach.  Instead, I marveled at its efficiency.  I also appreciated the unflagging professionalism of Lucy Lawless, who radiated a gentle calm despite the inexorable march of photo-seekers and the metronomic flash of the camera.

Want more celebrities and photo op fun?  Check out the VIP meet and greet I had with the cast of World of Dance!

Join the fun in the comments!  Who’s your dream celebrity photo op?


Saturday 3rd of June 2023

I experienced a celebrity photo op yesterday for the first time and love how the photo turned out. I know it wouldn't have gone as well if I hadn't read your suggestions so thanks so much for the advice! It helped me a lot :).

Katie Moseman

Saturday 3rd of June 2023

Yay! I'm so glad it helped!

Linda Dettbarn

Sunday 18th of November 2018

Thank you for sharing your experience. Heading to my first SPN con in a couple weeks!

Katie Moseman

Wednesday 21st of November 2018

Awesome! Hope it's a blast!