Taking great photos and presenting yourself at your best is pretty significant today. With the popularity of online social media, everything is about image. No one wants to be caught with their ‘badly groomed’ face on and have that plastered online for the world to see.
So although I am not the biggest fan of selfies, I do understand the importance of taking amazing photos. More specifically I know how important it is to know how to take a good selfie.
‘Selfie’ was the 2013 word of the year, since then it has been added to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. A selfie is described as ‘A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone and shared via social media.’
Whether you love them or not selfies are here to stay. With the rise of social media and photographic sharing online, pictures of people are flooding the internet. In the pursuit of a better photograph, people are slowly moving away from the random hastily taken snap.
In the quest to learn how to take great pictures. Apps, gadgets and camera equipment have been specially made to help you on your journey. No longer happy to be mere novices, amateur photographers are raising their game, and everyone wants to have the skills of a professional photographer.
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Your smartphone is the primary tool to take great selfies. Photo Source: Unsplash
One of the best things about selfies is that they are so convenient to take. If you have a smartphone as most people do, then you already have the primary tool to take great selfies. But although taking selfies are more commonly taken on a smartphone they can also be taken with any camera then you have available.
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Become a light expert, I know, I know you are here to learn how to become a selfie expert, not a light expert. But it is important to understand how light affects your face and image, as this will lead to you having better pictures.
If you know that you need direct bright lights to avoid looking dark, dreary and tired. Then you know which lighting to use when you want to take a great photo. However, if direct light bleaches your skin and makes you look like the walking undead. Then you know that for a better picture you must find some shade. During daylight hours tends to be the best time of day to bring out the best in most complexions.
When you are taking pictures one of the best things to keep in mind is to try to tell a story. Sometimes this can be more challenging in the case of the selfie as it is literally just your face and not much else. But the focal point of the image while on your face can still show an interesting background. This negative space which is often ignored can illuminate the entire picture and create an exciting narrative.
But if you wanted to show that you were taking your selfie at the beach, you could literally lie down and make the sand your backdrop, if you wanted to show you were in the park you could lie down on the grass and make that your backdrop. Trying a new position is a great way to bring some individuality and creativity to your images. Paying attention to the composition of your image is likely to help them stand out and get them much more attention than the run of the mill images all over the internet.
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Cropping an image is the way that you cut the image to your required style and size, its purpose is effectively framing the image. For example, if you had an image of your head and shoulders, you might realise that it looks much better if you took away everything but your eyes and nose. If you crop this image, it will leave you with just your eyes and your nose in the photo.
A cropped image can be captured either while you were taking the picture or in post-production editing. Cropping is very simple if cropping your face while taking the picture you just need to hold your device either closer or further from you. The same effect can be achieved by using the zoom.
When taking your picture one of the critical things is to make sure of is that you have gotten the capture mode on the camera right. It is always better to take high-quality pictures with the right settings than to try to edit it later.
No matter which camera you decide to use if you find that you cannot figure out the settings. It would be best to turn to the auto settings and find portrait mode. It may sound a bit weird to place the casual selfie in an official photographic category. But it is good to know that selfies are a type of portrait photography and to maximise the positive effect within your image you need to make sure you have the camera settings correctly selected.
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Selfie Sticks, Tripods or gorilla pods can all help to capture a sharp image. Photo Source: Unsplash
This tip is all about lighting. No, it is not a mistake having 2 lighting related tips in this short tip list. In fact, having in twice only goes to highlight my point. Selfies are all about taking good pictures, but great selfies are all about composition and lighting.
Taking photos in low light even if you are using a fancy DSLR will not give you the best results. A flash can help, but depending on your skin tone it could wash away all of your colour too. Natural light is always an excellent photography option but understandably not always available.
If you don’t end up with the right lighting, then you will find shadows forming on your face which can be almost as bad as no lighting. No matter what avoid shadows on your face, they will make you look haggard and unattractive. Think about moving around using the LCD to see yourself until all of the shadows are off your face. Turn to the right and to the left, hold your head up and down, until you find the best light. But remember the great thing about digital photography is that you can take some photos and delete any you don’t like it.
If you decide that you are going to smile in a photograph really smile. Fake smiles despite how great the selfie is are pretty unnerving and give you an air of being ingenuine and fake. If you are going to share your image with the world, try to show your personality in the image.
Dimples should be popping, smile lines should be wrinkled, and your eyes should carry the smile as much as your mouth does. Fake isn’t always easy to see, but it is easy to feel. As you learn to allow your emotion to show in your photos, you will automatically find more beautiful photos.
If you are dedicated to getting beautiful photos one of the best photography tips for beginners is just to hit the road and snap photos like your dinner depended on it. Don’t be too concerned at this point about perfection.
This is your training, which you can learn so much from. You want to shoot yourself in all kinds of environments and with posing with different expressions on your face with different lighting and especially in the places you hang out in most. Take pictures with different clothing and once you feel you have enough shots just keep going.
Now, this training isn’t just about taking good photos. It is also about mentally processing what you love about each image and what you don’t love about each image. Then you just have to replicate what you love and omit what you don’t. After some time you are going to have an image that you adore.
There are thousands of apps and PC software out there all fighting for your attention to be used to help you with the improvement of your photos. Pre-production apps can help you to add brightness, give you better depth of field, give you out of focus backgrounds, replicate wide angle lens or any other lens.
Post-production apps can help you with editing, creative photography, adjusting your image, funny experiments and pretty much anything you can think of. Filters especially are a great way to give your images a completely different feel.
PC software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom etc. can do much more post-production and have an array of settings that you can use to recreate your photography
If you take photos with your smartphone, using supplementary photography apps will be a great support to the improvement of your photos. Likewise, if you are using DSLRs, Mirrorless cameras or point and shoots for your selfies, you can edit post-capture with great PC software.
While there are lots of apps and editing software available to tweak your photography. It is important to remember that the main point is to take the best image you can. Editing should be supplementary to amazing photos, not the thing that creates amazing photos. That job in for your camera.
If you find that you have to do extensive editing with the picture, it is probably just not good enough, and you should try again. Working to be a better photographer saves you time editing and stops you from getting into lazy habits with post-processing.
Smile Like You Mean It. Photo Source: Unsplash
Selfies are a great way to raise your self-esteem and see yourself in a new light. But fundamentally they are meant to be fun, engaging and show the world a little something about who you are. Enjoy the journey, experiment, and love your selfies because they are all photos of the wonderful you.
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