I once had a public photo shoot where I would take headshots of random strangers who walked by my portable studio setup in a park so long as they posted it on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag “#unselfie.”
Why do I hate them so much? They either use the horrible front camera on a smartphone, which tends to have a wider–and totally not flattering–perspective, especially if you’re as blessed in the waist department as our readers tend to be. And if they’re made using the rear camera–I am 95% confident that it also involves a bathroom mirror that shows us your nicely cushioned toilet seat.
As a professional photographer, making people look the best they possibly could is my job. And the moment I see a smartphone come out, I begin to get cautious. I know the next step is a weird forehead tilt forward (which ends up giving the face an alien-like angle, possibly some duck lips or a very weird mouth shape. There is no relaxed jaw line, likely no natural looking smile, and no arms resting comfortably at the side.
Hand the camera to someone else to take your picture.
No one around? Use a tripod and set your camera to take a 10 second shot while you get ready. See this photo? I had my camera set up on a tripod and waited for the timer to count down.
What if you want to use a smartphone? There are some apps that also allow you to set a timer. Then use the camera at the back of the phone, as they tend to take better images. Lean your camera on something so it stands appropriately (or use a nifty phone stand). Yeah, there’s a little bit more setup to get the image–but the output will be worth it.
Tip 2. Get more than your face.
Sheesh. I’m pretty sure the intent of your photo is to provide us with some context as to where you’re at. If your mug is covering 80% of the image–you’re doing it wrong. Also, if you’re trying to submit fashion photos, we need to see your clothes–so show them.
Take the photo above. In it, you can tell where the shot is at. Also, look at those dope shoes! And that it was taken at the Winston Box warehouse. And I used a single light source. The typical selfie would have a hard time expressing all that info.
Tip 3. Let’s talk about the face for a moment.
The dab–remember that? It died in 2016, right? Well, duck lips (which never really shouldn’t have existed) died then, too. So stop it. We need a natural smile. Show some teeth if you want, but get a nice warm, welcoming smile. Or perhaps something stern and pensive. But don’t overdo it.
Just don’t make your lips do weird things like the duck anymore.
Tip 4. Get light–it’ll help make your photos sharp.
Sharp, noise free images require a decent amount of light. And those tiny little sensors in your camera phones? They require even more light to make a decent image. If you don’t give your camera enough light, the image will be blurry. The same goes for DSLRs–but those larger sensors tend to be more forgiving of less light.
Tip 5. Mind the background.
I said it before–don’t photograph in a bathroom. We don’t want to see those magazines next to your toilet. Go for a nice complimentary background, or something that doesn’t distract from the subject. If the wall is too “busy” and distracting, take a few steps forward and let it fall out of focus.
Bonus Tip: Walk away from the bathroom.
When you’re in the bathroom, put the camera away. There are only a few things that should happen in the bathroom–taking pictures is not one of them.
So, hopefully you are now equipped with some tips to take better pictures of beautiful selves. Let the intent of your subject drive your image. Don’t let elements such as the background, lighting, or blurriness take away from the subject. And if you’re looking for someone to hold a camera for you–let me know.
And if you really must take a selfie, at least make it epic: