Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat… As we live in the age of self portraits (aka selfies), twitpics, avatars and profile snaps. In fact, there are now entire gadgets devoted to this particular art form.
And as I am constantly learning, the difference between a good and bad shot lies in preparation and practice. After all, how else will you capture that perfect just-after-a-haircut moment or the amazing coral lip for posterity? Behold then, the top tricks to take your #selfies from #simple to #stunning.
Make sure you are camera ready
First, the clothes. Voluminous outfits, like billowy tops and loose tunics, don’t make for good selfies as your proportions are not balanced out by taut legs in the limited frame. Instead, look for a more streamlined top. Also avoid loud prints as they don’t translate well in this medium. Basic blacks, pale denims and crisp whites are what work best. Try to show just a touch of skin, maybe with a scooped neckline, as it adds softness.
And wear sunglasses. For some reason, most people look phenomenally better in sunglasses. So do a selfie in sunnies if you are going for an extreme close up.
Then comes the #makeup
This is pretty important (unless you’re going for the #nomakeup look) as closeup selfies wash you out, while playing up every line and blemish. Your saviour? Try these tips.
- Start with smooth, toned and moisturised skin by treating yourself to a face scrub and hydrating facial. This minimises uneven makeup application and promotes a healthy, glowing effect.
- Mattify your skin: A dewy complexion is attractive in real life, but in photos it will look like an oil slick. Try grease blotting products for a flawless, shine-free finish.
- Skip mineral foundations and powders as they tend to give a white cast when light bounces off them, leading to the dreaded #FlourFace. Similarly, opt for a powder with a yellow tint, rather than a translucent one. The latter also leaves a white cast when the flash goes off.
- If you plan to wear undereye concealer, blend very, very well to remove any harsh lines. Seriously. Otherwise, you risk your concealer looking too obvious. I learnt this the hard way, sigh!
- Stay off the sparkles or ultra-strong colours as they will make you look ten years older. Instead, dab a touch of cream highlighter in the recessed areas of your face, which appear shadowed in dim lighting. Usual suspects are the inner corners of your eyes, top of the cheekbones, bow of the lip and chin cleft.
- Don’t want to look washed out? Use the right shade of blush. Pale pastel blushers will disappear with digital photography as it tends to wash out colour from the skin, so go with a stronger blush in shades of rosy brown to define your cheeks.
- Avoid harsh liner or ultra-smokey eyes as both these make the eyes look smaller. Instead, try a soft, coloured eye pencil and smudge it a bit. If you have to use a liquid eyeliner, dot it next to the eyelash base rather than creating a solid line. Add mascara for definition.
- Most lips benefit from definition in front of the camera. For a fail-safe makeup effect, apply a lip pencil that’s two shades darker than your own lip colour, smudge a bit and layer with a little gloss or lipstick in the same shade. You will look polished without seeming OTT in every kind of light!
- Lift your chin when being photographed to lessen dark circles and keep the nose from looking too big.
Go towards the light
Lighting can make or break your photo. Natural daylight is ideal and youalmost can’t go wrong during the magic hour (the hour just after sunrise or just before sunset), which is when the sunlight is perfect for pictures.
But avoid standing in direct daylight when the sun is right overhead, as it will cast hard shadows. Instead, turn your back to the sun. This will create a halo-style effect that can be very flattering. Or look for “open shade”, like the shadow of a tree or building.
If you’re inside, try to find any light source you can to avoid the dreaded flash, which is hardly ever flattering. Look for light coming through a window, soft light bulbs… it even helps tohave a thin piece of fabric (like a sheer curtain) stand between you and the light. This will stop the light from shining directly on your face, creating a beautiful glow.
Show your best side
It’s now scientifically proven that you actually do have a good side. And chances are it’s the left. A study in the Experimental Brain Research journal shows that photos of the left side of our face get rated as more pleasant than photos of the right side. So, work out your angle: take practice shots from the left, right, behind, top, bottom… and then get a buddy to evaluate them objectively.
Because you really shouldn’t take a selfie too seriously. Poke fun at yourself, exaggerate the duck face, work the angles, try some funky props… have fun with it. The goal is to look natural in your selfie. Like you were out basking in the sun and someone snapped a candid shot. And when you do see a bad pic, just laugh and move on! Because you are perfect! Right?
What are your go-to tricks for looking great in photos? Will you be trying any of the advice here?