So, if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the people who tell me they “don’t photograph well” or “take horrible selfies” ! You’ll be happy to know, everyone takes horrible selfies, especially those who don’t know what they are doing – they just don’t post the awful ones 😉 And while there are some factors we can’t change – for example, the quality of your phone camera – there are plenty of things we definitely can use to our advantage. The following photos were taken in a timeframe of about 10 minutes, all with available light from lamps, and unedited save for the text. (The cartoon above is by Adam Ellis)
Let’s start with angles and “posing”. Having the phone camera at or below eye level is not very flattering, as it increases the chance for a double chin; and also, the nose is the closest thing to the camera, which can make it look bigger than it is.
This is the other extreme – tilting your head does slim down your face, and in this particular case it also helps with lighting, but with the camera pointed down like that it can look quite teenagerish and distorted (notice how long my face looks, in this photo and the above!)
So we can solve this by angling the phone down slightly, slimming the features just right, keeping the head straight ahead or even poking out your chin a bit, which stretches the skin around your jawbone and therefore gives you nice and defined features.
In the above photo, the light is kinda OK, but not good. Ideally, you take your selfie in soft natural light (overcast is perfect!) or with a really nice lightsource. But often, we’re indoors at a party or some event, wanting to capture a fun moment, and there just isn’t the greatest light available. Let me help you with some lighting tips:
The absolute worst thing you can do to your phone camera is having the lightsource behind your subject. Your camera is not equipped to handle this, and the bright parts are way too bright whereas the dark parts are grainy and shadowy. Even with a professional camera, you need to know what you are doing to get anything out of a situation like this. With a phone? Don’t even try.
This image here is still a little too dark, and I took it while sat at my computer, so you can see the blue glare in my eyes. I also don’t look very healthy! While having more than one lightsource is generally good, you should avoid having multiple light sources of different temperatures, if at all possible.
Here, I still look a bit tired. There is no light in my eyes, making them look flat and dark, and with the light source directly over my head, I get dark circles (I mean more than I usually have, sigh!)
You could improve this by putting a reflector under your chin (a white cardboard for example) but you’d need someone to hold it, and you could risk looking like a weirdo at your office party…
We are very fortunate to have two nice lamps in our studio, on either side of the makeup mirror, so finding perfect light wasn’t hard for me.
You can see lovely reflections in my eyes here, and as if by magic, my dark circles and my double chin have vanished!
To get the most out of your selfie in terms of light, try your best to find an even, not too harsh lightsource – that can be the kitchen window with a thin white curtain, a big lamp that’s somehow diffused, or just the sun behind some clouds when you’re outside… Ideally, the lightsource is pointing at you, rather than pointing down on you.
I hope this helped you a little bit! And remember, selfies are hard! Even Kim Kardashian takes dozens of photos before she posts one 😉