Taking a self portrait might seem like a straightforward process, but the truth is, getting the lighting, composition, and mood just right can be a challenge, as is the case with any photograph.
To ensure your Snapchat post is up to snuff or your Tinder photo is as smooth as your pickup line (which will inevitably fail after you match with someone), we’re here to offer a few tips to improve your selfie game.
There are three components to any self-portrait: lighting, composition/framing, and stance. Each of these aspects intertwine with one another to ultimately determine what the resulting image will look like. Below, we’ll dive into each to help you better understand how to make the most of the selfie trinity.
Lighting plays the most important role in the overall quality of your selfie. After all, the word photography literally means “painting with light.”
More often than not, you’ll want a soft, even light for selfies. Harsh light can accentuate unwanted features and overall tends to yield a less attractive aesthetic, although, as with anything in the world of photography, there are exceptions to this rule.
The easiest way to achieve soft, even lighting is to capture your selfie by a window during the day. Depending on what direction the window is facing, you might need to adjust where it is you’re standing. But overall, natural light is far more likely to yield a better image than the usual artificial lighting you’ll find in your house or while out and about. Below is an example selfie, taken by model Tess Holliday, showing the benefits of soft, even light from a window.
In the event you’re outside and there’s no shade to take cover under, your best bet is to shoot with the sun at your back and expose the image for your face. Better yet, use your body or head to block out the sun in the frame to minimize flares. This should yield a far more usable image than shooting with the sun at your face – not to mention it’ll save you from squinting your entire way through the selfie-shooting process.
If natural light isn’t a possibility, try to find an area that offers a large, diffused source of light, preferably a light source that isn’t facing straight down from the ceiling either, as it will cast unnatural and unappealing shadows, most notably under your eyes and nose. Play around with fill flash, which helps to illuminate the face in backlit situations.