The styling is very personal, but if your goal is to create a versatile headshot that won’t look dated next year, stick with something timeless like a solid-colored pocket tee, the choice of Silva. Dörr, who prefers classic and timeless clothing, agrees. “Keep it simple,” she said.
Check your camera settings
Before you start shooting, choose the highest possible image quality, one that will give you more detail and flexibility when you need to crop and edit. Some smartphones include a RAW format setting, resulting in massive uncompressed files. Photographers prefer this because it gives them more control over the final image. The downside is that RAW images require more editing. If you are comfortable with post processing including how to export images to JPEG format, RAW files are your best bet.
If you have a manual white balance setting on your camera, adjust it before you start looking at white objects through your viewfinder. They can appear too hot or too cold, which can also affect skin tone.
Use a tripod
Holding your phone, like a selfie, is okay for a snapshot, but for a selfie you’ll get better results without your arm getting in the way. A monopod (aka a selfie stick) allows you to move the camera away, while keeping your arms closer to your body. Your best bet is a tripod or photo stand, although Silva has propped her phone up on a windowsill using a water bottle, or placed it in the corner of a tree. Larrow’s tripod involves placing a phone on a stack of books above a table, making sure it is at a 90-degree angle and roughly at eye level. “Having the camera too low will make you look really tall, and having it too high will look like Myspace 2004,” he says. “It’s just a weird prospect.”
If you don’t have a tripod, have someone else hold the camera and take the picture, but be clear about what you want in the frame. It’s also a good idea to tape your spot to always be centered when trying out different positions.
Another tip: The outward-facing camera on your phone is of a higher quality than the inward-facing selfie camera, so use that instead. If that makes you nervous, Larrow recommends taking a few selfie mode photos until you feel good. Then turn the camera over.
Set a timer and take ‘burst’ photos
Take advantage of countdowns and continuous shooting “bursts” on your phone, so you don’t have to go back and forth with the camera for multiple shots. If you have an iPhone and an Apple Watch, you can use the watch to remotely trigger your camera. With many Android phones, you can use hand signals or voice commands to activate the timer.
Step into your light
“Photography is light, ”says Dörr, who advises observing the light in your surroundings at different times of the day and seasons to identify the difference in the place you love the most. One way to check what your skin will look like in a particular light is to photograph your hand and look at the details. Dörr also recommends having some light in your eyes; she says it evokes a good feeling.
Silva uses natural light for this purpose. If the sun peeks through the blinds when it takes a self-portrait, it says, “I will always make sure that the light hits the color of my eyes.”
If you’re taking your selfie indoors, stand about 3 feet from your backdrop, face a window, and place the camera between the window and yourself. You want an abundance of soft light so it can wrap evenly around your face without harsh shadows, says Larrow. Photographers have a soft spot for morning light (bluer) and evening light (more golden), but in either case, you want to make sure you have enough light on your face. If the sun is too strong, Mew likes to diffuse the light with blinds or veils, or any other sheer fabric.
Strike a pose
Generally, the photos taken in photo are not cute. Try this: Standing or sitting on a stool, instead of taking a photo directly, line your shoulder with the camera and tilt your face towards it. And don’t cut too close. If you cut your shoulders, Larrow said, it looks like you just didn’t fit into the frame. Determine which side you prefer. If your hair is parted, go for the side where you can see more of your face.