Floating head syndrome, ghostly concealer and shine (shudder). Never are your make-up mistakes more obvious than in photos.  Which is unfortunate, given we're saturated in snaps - while photos were once reserved for special occasions, we're now compelled to catalogue our #OOTD on Instagram, twitter and Facebook.

But if anyone's mastered camera-friendly make-up, it's MAC global creative director James Molloy. He's a regular presence backstage at international fashion weeks and he knows his way around photogenic bronzer like nobody's business. We asked him to break down a flawless make-up application.

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Prime for perfection
To achieve a soft focus finish - no Vaseline on the camera lens required - you'll need a pore-minimising primer.  "If you want to look good in real life, it's all about blurring everything, which starts with the skin," Molloy says. "Think about filtered images - you don't see any pores or fine lines at all and all the textural things on the skin are blurred."

Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos

Lit From Within primer, $38, Mecca

Get your colour right
Going out? You can afford to go a shade darker with your foundation. "For an event, you've got to take into account the flash of the camera - you can go a little heavier with your make-up and it will look really radiant," Molloy says. Just avoid the dreaded floating head syndrome: your face should never be more than a couple of shades lighter or darker than the rest of you. "You don't necessarily have to wear foundation on your neck and chest, but just take a little bit of your powder and dust it down," he says. Use a soft blush brush when applying bronzer so you can move it easily around your skin.

Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos

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Highlighting vs contouring
Sure, contouring is all the rage, but to really enhance your best features for the camera, highlighting is the way to go. "As soon as you add some glow to the tops of your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose, all of a sudden it tricks the light and you look more defined without having to carve anything out," says Molloy. If you must contour, stick to just one to two shades darker than your skin tone: read our step-by-step guide to natural contouring.

Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos

Chanel Eclat Lumiere highlighter face pen, $63, David Jones

Eye-widening tricks
"Use an eyelash curler to get a really good, soft curl - not 90-degree lashes," instructs Molloy. "A flash of a skin-toned pencil inside the waterline won't look fake like white eyeliner can, but gives you a brighter eye." For the top lid, take note: "A thick black line can actually make your eyes look smaller," says Molloy. "The thinnest line of black along the lash line will give you definition but won't overpower your eyelid." To open up your eyes even more, coat lids in a honey-toned shadow. "It will automatically make the whites of your eyes brighter because of its warmth," says Molloy, who favours MAC Sober eye shadow.

Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos

Nars Larger Than Life long-wear eyeliner in Rue Bonaparte, $32, Mecca
Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos
MAC eye shadow in Soba, $33

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Long-wearing lips
"Matte lipstick over a dry lip will never photograph well and in real life will probably even look worse," warns Molloy. Giving good lip requires proper prep, so exfoliate and prime before applying your colour. "You get into the habit of throwing everything on without priming first, but I want my clients to go out feeling confident and not having to check in the mirror every two minutes," says Molloy.

Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos

Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer, $40

Powder up
Forget ghostly white faces in flash photography - the latest crop of micro-fine powders are virtually invisible and have a subtle shimmer so you won't look too matte. "I think the safest thing to do is go with a flesh-toned powder rather than something that's very white," says Molloy. "Something with a lot of white particles is great for real life because they diffuse light, but for photos, I'd go skin-toned." Try MAC's famous Mineralise Skinfinish powder, which Molloy says is the closest thing to a real life filter. 

Cheat's guide: how to look like a model in photos

MAC Mineralize SkinFinish powder, $49

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