Let's clear the air shall we? There is no shame in taking a selfie. A well-executed snapshot doesn't just capture your day to day moments AND provide a couple of mood-boosting likes. It can also help you feel good about yourself–something to look back on when you're feeling particularly dumpy and fugly (period blues ring any bells?).
While some people seem to be born to take the perfect selfie (we're looking at you, Kylie Jenner), most of us mere mortals are slaves to what our limited skills can churn out. Capturing a great selfie requires a balance of skill, luck and the right know-how. Beyond busting out some duck or fish pouts (we're not judging!) or filter skills, the art of the selfie is a science in itself, rooted in basic photography priniciples that people tend to overlook.
We spoke with celebrity photographer Sara Black to get the lowdown of the lifeblood of an amazing photo. Find out what makes a selfie work and what doesn't. Learn it, do it, become it. Hello,'grammability upgrade.
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Your environment can lend extra details to your photo. In an indoor setting, pay attention to light sources. "Situating yourself near available sunlight works best for selfies because natural light has a more forgiving effect on skin," relates Sara. "Be mindful of your position in relation to the light source. To reduce eyebags and fine lines, face toward the window."
For outdoors, Sara shares an often overlooked aspect of photography. "Be mindful of shadows cast on the face," says Sara, "If you're aiming for a fresh look, backlit normally does the trick." This adds an almost ethereal glow that frames your face, creating more depth and interest in your photo.
Angling your camera also plays an important factor. "Shooting upward is normally less flattering than downward as it distorts the nose and jaw line making them appear larger," warns Sara.
"Choose the facial angle that has the most balance and symmetry," shares Sara. As everyone's faces are composed differently, it's all about playing around with what works for you. "For me it's frontal or facing frame right," says Sara, "Facing frame left my jaw line has a less sharp angle and my eyes appear less symmetrical."
Forget heavy filtering. Your perceived imperfections are what makes your selfie uniquely beautiful. Instead of using an app to blur out details, try adjusting the settings of your photo. "Fine tune the tones by adjusting brightness and contrast where your skin looks best," explains Sara.
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Finally, Sara shares that when planned carefully, cropping can greatly improve the composition and visual impact of a digital photo. "Crop any irrelevant information," she advises. Trimming a small amount from the edges of your image can make a huge difference, whether it’s to eliminate distractions or create a better overall balance.
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Photographs by Sara Black and the author