Improving Your Selfie

Like every person out there, photographers take selfies. The true test of being a photographer is how to apply your knowledge of lighting, composition and of course, gear, to your selfies.

Today I am going to give you five easy tips to take your selfies from standard, dull iPhone junk to images that rival Vivian Maier and Cindy Sherman.

Here’s a standard selfie that I took as a starting point


Step 1: Change the angle

If you want a flattering photo, you have to lose the low angle that accentuates your double chin. I try to shoot a few inches above eye level, any higher and you look like you’re trying to hide something. Also a protip: this is a great time for your hair and makeup so make sure to hire a professional for this step.


Step 2: Gear matters and people that think it doesn’t are wrong

Get out your DSLR and some fast glass, preferably a long lens like a 85mm or 105mm. Put your camera up on a tripod to hold your camera while you get the pose down. If you don’t like the self timer, make sure to grab a shutter release so you can fire off your camera in rapid succession.


Step 3: Bump up the lighting.

If you keep using washout-out, backlit, unflattering light you can’t expect to look your best or look like a professional. Break out the light kit and some gels for a dramatic effect. If you want, renting a set of Profoto or Broncolor lights is always a great idea. Your lighting setup is crucial to the message you want to send in the selfie. It doesn’t matter if you decide to shoot a three or five point setup, clamshell or go all natural with some dramatic window light. Make sure your lighting follows the narrative you are trying to send and of course, document your lighting setup in detail.


Step 4: Tethered Capture makes me happy

You can’t see anything with that tiny LCD screen on the back of your camera, plug your camera into Lightroom and start a tethered capture. Be sure to take a few hundred photos to have a couple of the best options. Always double check your monitor is calibrated and the room has no ambient light to ruin your perfect color settings. While you’re at it, toss in a professional looking background.


Step 5: No such thing as over processed

The process only begins with taking the picture. Make sure to bring a raw file into Photoshop and process it within an inch of its’ life. Make sure every tiny spec is removed from the file, even if you’re going to be posting it to Instagram at 512px. I don’t need to tell you have to edit images but frequency separation, heavy dodging and burning and a new background are a must. Again, be sure to edit your photo in a pitch black room to preserve perfect color accuracy, even if no one else has a calibrated screen. Last, resize your image for each social media you’re planning on posting to, upload, and properly archive the original.

And there you have it, that’s the process I use to take a selfie. So remember, next time you open Snapchat, use the five easy steps to take a quick shot.


Scott MeyerComment