Notebook Photography Notes

10 Tips for taking good quality SELFIES

February 8, 2018

Sometimes I get the question “who takes your pictures then?”.

Why do people ask me this? I know why. Cause I’m always the one taking pictures of my family.

But I really don’t mind. Know why? Cause I can take my own pictures.

10 tips for good quality selfies, 10 tips for professional self portraits.

I’ve been taking my own pictures ever since I attended the Art Institute of Vancouver. In one of the photography classes that I took, the assignment was to take a picture of ourselves using a tripod. Back then (oh way back then in the year 2004) there was no such thing as WIFI connected remote apps or a DSLR for me. All I had was a Canon Powershot camera and a very little, thin and not so strong tripod. So I had to improvise. I cut out a cardboard box, made a pocket, put my camera in it, then taped the cardboard box on the wall, put it on timer mode and took my pictures.

I didn’t have any extra lighting or a flash, just a small camera and lots of photoshop skills. So I took pictures as best I could and photoshped EVERYTHING. I guess that was when I really learned a lot about photoshop and that you could do sooooo much with it.

Now, I like to take clean, soft pictures of my kids, and ME of course.

To take pictures of yourself isn’t easy. You can’t see yourself inside the lens and it’s hard to stay in one spot and check the results constantly. So here’s what I like to do when I take my own pictures.

  1. Use a nice decent camera. A DSLR works best but if you don’t have one use a mirrorless or a small camera that shoots clean, crisp photos. If your ok with shooting photos is RAW then do so, it’ll be a lot easier to play around with in Photoshop or Lightroom without losing quality. If you’re not familiar with RAW then shoot in JPEG but in the highest quality resolution.
  2. Use a remote. There are lots of good remotes out there but the best is the remote shooting app and your phone. You get a live view of what you’re taking and you use your phone as the remote so it’s a lot easier than a regular camera remote. It’s like having the screen and the remote both at the tip of your hands while you shoot. I have a Canon DSLR and the good thing about it is that it can be connected to the Canon app via WIFI. So then it’s possible for me to have live-remote-shooting available, which comes in real handy when you’re shooting yourself. I can adjust settings through the app without having to go back and forth between the camera and where I’m getting the picture taken.
  3. Use a mirror. If you have a big mirror, put it in front of you and behind the tripod. This way you get a bigger view of the poses and positions of yourself. You’ll look different than how you look in the mirror but this is a good way to get a glimpse of how your photos will turn out.
  4. Use lots of light. Sunlight is the best but if you’re shooting in your room or in a place that doesn’t get much sun, use other resources as much as you can. I sometimes put my desk lamp on the floor and tilt it up towards the ceiling for more light.
  5. Shoot up close and not too far. MEANING: ZOOM IN. Remember, you’re shooting yourself. MEANING: You’re the MAIN object of the picture. The more focus you put on yourself, the better. I like to make sure the focus of the picture is in my eyes. I make sure the focus of the camera is set around the eyes when I’m taking portrait pictures and I like to do that with my own pictures as well.
  6. Seriously and literally shoot hundreds of pictures of yourself, then pick and choose. Instead of taking lots and lots of time to figure out a pose or position you like, just try and be yourself and take lots of pictures so that you have more options rather than a few images to choose from.
  7. Don’t just stare at the camera but move around a lot. You’re not going to want to choose from hundreds of images that look the same but with different eye levels. You’re going to want to choose from a variety of positions, facial expressions, and different angles. Make sure you move around, stand up, sit down, crouch over, and do things that may seem like something you don’t usually do when getting your pictures taken. If you move around and tilt your head in different ways, you get to know which angle and which side of your face is more photogenic than the normal straight face.
  8. Use Photoshop or Lightroom or any other image software… and use it wisely. Don’t just bring in a photo into the software and auto-tone, auto-level, auto-color, and auto-contrast everything. Take the time to manually set the levels, brightness, contrasts, and exposure. These are the elements that I like to play around with first, then I start editing other aspects of the photo once I have these set to the level I want. If you want a brighter image, then go for it, if you want more contrast between the whites and the blacks, then pull that scroll all the way to see what it would look like. Don’t be scared to go wild and to an extreme.
  9. Play around with color. Don’t be afraid to boost up the color in your photos, or even just go black and white. Sometimes, I take a picture of me or my kids and I don’t like how the color of their outfits turn out in my photos. So then I take that into photoshop and enhance the red more or green more. I pick a color to saturate more than others and the photo turns out a lot more CREATIVE than the original image. Sometimes photos tend to get more redness in them (depending on the shooting mode and lighting) and so I like to de-saturate the color RED in my photos often.
  10. Use the “Sharpen” filter to add the extra CRISP. Once you have everything set to how you want your selfie to look, SHARPEN that image once and you’ll be able to add that crisp finishing to it like the images in magazines and advertisements. I like to make the eyes a bit more sharp in portraits, to make the person looking at the picture, stare into the eyes of the photo, when they first look at the picture. It’s just something I like to do.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ll spend a lot of time on the computer once you get a shortlisted set of images. I usually spend about two hours editing photos and shortlisting them. Make sure to HAVE FUN while doing it. Cause if you’re not having fun, it’s going to show, in the puctures you take.


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