How to make selfies look better

As a professional photographer, one would naturally ask, why would I teach people how to make selfies look better?

Do I want to put myself out of work?

Well, I would hope that people would come to me when they need a new business head shot or photos of you at work for something formal like your website banner, a brochure or advertising leaflet. But really, it’s unrealistic to use me for every photo that you might want to post, especially if you are active on social media.

When you want to post something quick and fun on social media, this is my guide to helping you make selfies look better.

This is about taking pictures of people – yourself mainly, and with your phone. Taking photos of products or using a DSLR or mirrorless camera is another workshop, never mind guide, altogether! But some tips will be still prove useful, so read on.

Firstly, why post photos at all? There are several reasons!

  1. People respond better to a post with a photo than just text. The visibility of your post is increased by simply taking up more physical space on the web page when you include a photo. When people are scrolling through a news feed, your post with a photo will occupy more of that valuable space and hopefully capture their attention.

  2. People like to see the person behind a business. They don’t just want to see the results of your work, they want to see you. By sharing photos of you at work, they get to know you better.

  3. You can make the photos increase your exposure by playing tag! Tag yourself, tag the venue, tag the event, tag your clients, colleagues, everyone involved. Anyone who follows the venue but not you now has the chance to see your photo and therefore see and learn about you. Same for every other group. And if someone from those groups likes the photo, all their connections have a second opportunity to see it and link back to you.  

The following are some of the technical (not too techy!) aspects of taking a good selfie. Some of this may be well-known to lots of you, so it’s just a reminder. For others, it could be quite new and useful information!

Bring your face to the light

You want people to be able to see you, so move into the light! Natural light is best, rather than overhead office lighting, but not direct sunlight. Try taking the photos on a cloudy day or just in the shade on a bright day. If you can’t get outside, then at least move to the window, but remember to turn towards the window, not to have the window behind you. You want the light on you.

Watch your back!

Take a moment to consider what is behind you in the photo? Dirty dishes? Cluttered office? Cat grooming itself? All these things can be quite distracting in a photo where you are supposed to be the centre of people’s attention. To avoid these problems, try to find a neutral background like a blank wall if you aren’t going for an environmental shot of where you are.

Don’t use the mirror

Don’t take a shot in the bathroom shooting back at yourself. This simply isn’t professional. Save it for your personal social media and your kids.

Use the grid.

Most phones can put a 9-rectangle grid on the photo screen, which can be used to help you with keeping everything square and straight. Use those lines to help line up your photo. If you put eyes directly through the top line of the grid, you will usually get a pleasing perspective.

Use your phone’s editing software!

You don’t have to buy Lightroom and Photoshop and use them – that’s my job, haha. The software on your phone is enough for a simple correction. It’s not hard to straighten images and brighten them slightly, and it will help your photos look better.

Here are some other aspects to consider for your photo.

I think about these before every photo I take of someone, and so should you, even for a selfie!

  • What is your body language saying? Are you turned away from the camera? What does that say to your audience? What are your arms doing; are they crossed and looking defensive, or are they open and relaxed?

  • Look at the camera, not yourself in the phone screen! You want to engage with your audience, and that means eye contact. You wouldn’t give a presentation looking in the mirror the whole time, so don’t do it in a photo either.

  • What is the angle of the photo? A low camera angle with the camera looking up at you can make you look powerful, but can also be a terribly unflattering angle. Camera high and looking down at you can be flattering to your looks, but can make you look meek and timid. Eye level is best for looking approachable.

  • Think about how long this photo will be viewed for how much thought to put into it. A photo on Instagram or Facebook will be gone in a day or two, so have fun and don’t worry too much about making it perfect. Other social media channels you need to judge your audience and yourself. A photo on your website, your LinkedIn profile picture or on your business card will be around for much longer, so that’s the time to put a lot of thought and effort into it and perhaps get the help of a professional to look your very best.

 My challenge for you is to take a photo of yourself keeping these tips in mind, and put it onto your social media accounts and see what the response is!

Andrea is the founder of A+ Photography. About Andrea in her own words:

I've been taking photos for decades. I've always felt that capturing a moment in time in a photograph was the best way to help hold onto that time, to remember the emotions and thoughts with a look in a photo.

Portraits: I want to help you capture your moments in time. Your life, your story, and most of all, your beautiful self. Let me be the one to help bring you out in your photographs. 

Business Branding: Having previously run an international business based in Germany, I also know how important it is to deliver the right message to your potential clients. I can help you bring out the message through your photographs for social media  or other marketing purposes. 

Telephone: +44 (0) 7531 338141