Back in the day, when cell phones weren’t as common, people would rely on Polaroid cameras or some other bulky device to capture moments. Flash forward to the invention of smartphones and selfies became convenient with the front-facing camera and the ease of handheld devices. Smartphones used to be smaller and more compact allowing for selfie-taking to be a breeze, but as phone size has increased and selfie-taking has become more famous, more tips and tricks are needed.
The trend of selfies has been exacerbated by some celebrities such as the Kardashians, but also by the ease of taking a picture of oneself in their cute outfit or the epic environment that they’re in. As smartphones have evolved, so have the tactics used for taking the beloved selfies. Selfie sticks have aided users in getting some scenic views in their picture, pop-sockets have aided in holding the phone while capturing the moment, and Snapchat’s facial filters have helped anyone take their selfie from bad to fab instantly! With all these new devices to help create the picture-perfect selfie, one may ask, how else could I improve my selfie appearance? The answer is simple, lighting. This article will provide you with some simple tips and tricks to enhance your selfie!
Lights, Camera, Action
Though this first tip isn’t necessary about light, it will play into effect with the later tips and tricks. It’s no surprise that most people take selfies with their phone and that their phone will typically have two options for cameras: front facing camera and rear facing camera. You may be asking, why does this matter? The front facing camera will not give you the same quality as the rear-facing camera and will not have as many features. Check out your camera’s settings and you’ll probably find something like “night mode” which is only available to the rear-facing camera. Now, this point isn’t to bash the front camera because it does have some perks such as being able to see your face on the screen which allows for perfect alignment. Also, because the front-facing camera is lower quality, it will help hide blemishes or other imperfections on your skin. However, the photo may appear darker or more grainy with the front-facing camera. Try your front and rear facing cameras to see which quality you prefer! Luckily selfie sticks were invented to ease the process of selfie-taking using rear-facing cameras.
Natural light will always trump artificial light. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case picture. There are lots of ways to utilize natural light in your images. To amplify your features, stand in front of a window allowing the light to shine on your face. This tactic is great for people with light eyes because it will really make them shine bright like a diamond! Fear not people with darker colored eyes, the natural light will highlight your features as well and make you look flawless! Sometimes that direct light can be too much though, so another technique is standing outside with an awning or overhang directly above you. This technique won’t wash out your face, but will allow the natural light to reflect onto you making your skin glow! For more of a creative and abstract vibe, you can use natural light to cut your face in half so that part of your face is shadowed whereas the other is lit up. This technique is sure to draw some positive attention!
What’s behind you? I don’t mean right now, but when you’re taking a selfie it’s important to ask this question! It’s best to take your selfie in a room with pastel or light colors, as it will give the appearance of light and those colors won’t show up on your face. On the contrary, bright backgrounds like deep reds, or blues, or greens may reflect back on your face and make you look like a weird mutant. Okay, may not weird mutant, but definitely not the look you’re going for … or is it?
Where Do I Place my Light
Alright, so you’re getting all glammed up for a night out and you’re ready for a picture to capture that awesome hair and make-up. As you start taking those selfies, you find that you hate every single one and your confidence whithers. Is it really the look that’s got those pictures looking less than stellar, or is it the level of the light? When taking a selfie, it’s important to have the light source (when unnatural light is used) at eye level. Having the light source above or below can make you look sleep deprived or straight up awful. Try this trick after you’re all glammed up, and I’m sure your confidence will remain high!
Location of Light Source
We’ve touched on this briefly, but I think this needs to be reiterated for those of you who have fallen asleep in the back. FACE YOUR LIGHT SOURCE. If your back is turned and no light is beaming onto your face, the selfie is not going to turn out well. You may get awkward shadows or facial lines may show through. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try it for yourself to see. I’ll wait. ….. See what I mean? Get it? Got it? Good, moving on.
Let’s say you really want to take your selfies up a notch and you’re looking for that extra something to take your lighting over the edge, don’t worry there’s an app for that. Just kidding, kind of? There are phone accessories on the market that will aid in getting that perfect light. Let’s check out a few of your options and how they could make your photos glam.
- Lighted Phone Case. Did you know these exist? I certainly did not until I started researching for this post. This is genius! Not only will this lovely tool protect your precious selfie taker, but it will also provide the perfect amount of light for your pictures! The best part is, these cases work on front and rear-facing cameras.
- LED Light. This little invention connected to your phone through the audio jack (sorry iPhone users). What I love about this one is that it will provide you with beautiful light while using your front-facing camera. You’ll get the best of both worlds with light, and being able to see the picture before it’s captured.
- Ring Light. For those of us who don’t have an audio jack port (cough, cough iPhone users), there’s this little guy. Ring lights are available in many different forms, but some are able to be clipped directly onto any phone. RIng lights are preferred by the selfie pros because they will not cast a shadow on your face and they brighten up the eyes. Yes, and yes, both things I need in my life.
Use Those Features
Okay, so it’s obviously not always daytime, and not all of us can get those phone accessories, so what is there for the rest of us? Luckily, technology has become so advanced that phones are already on top of this. As mentioned previously, many phones come equipped with nighttime features which help correct some of the weird colorings that goes on at night. As a general rule of thumb, the flash is not your friend. Although an attractive feature when light availability to scarce, the flash will not bring out your best features and you’re better off just not taking a selfie at that point. Rather, your selfie from different angles, and try to find the best lighting in your environment. Once you’ve found it, cling to it and capture that glamor shot.
Best Time of Day
Did you know there is a time, well a couple times, a day called the “magic hour?” This magic hour that I speak of is the two hours after the sun rises, and one hour before the sun sets. They say that this is the ideal light for selfies. Give it a shot!
Pose, snap, and Go
It should go without saying that your selfie will be amplified with a little pose or face, so do that. Don’t just stare blankly at your camera and expect your photo to turn out stunning. You can try all the tips aforementioned, but if you don’t work the camera, it will not work you.
Food For Thought
Alright, this article has provided you with a bunch of tips on lighting and selfies, but really it’s all up to preference. If you like the darker, shadowy vibe then, by all means, feel free to disregard this entire post. For the rest of us who enjoy beautifully lit selfies that both accentuate our features and make us look flawless, there are these tips. Play around with one or more of these ideas and see what works for you and what captures your beauty to its fullest. However, remember that no matter what, you’re beautiful!