How about this angle? A little lower? Higher? Does my face really look like that? Delete, delete! If your selfie seems a little off, you’re actually right. It is.
The average selfie is taken about 12 inches from the face. Because most cameras are made for taking pictures farther away than that, the close-up focus causes the base of the nose to look 30% wider and the tip 7% wider, research shows. In addition to the camera’s distortion, most of us are used to looking in the mirror and recognizing the opposite image of ourselves.
Stephanie Simpson, a personal branding and portrait photographer, says it’s possible to take great selfies if you use a couple of pro tricks.
First, focus on your lighting. If you’re inside during the day, face a window with the room in the background. “That’s going to be the prettiest light. What you’re looking for is soft, flat light,” Simpson says. If there’s too much direct sun, pull a curtain all or part way over the window, or take a few steps back. If you’re outside, avoid standing in direct sun. See if you can get light bouncing off a building or under the shade of a tree, close to where the light becomes shadow. Look for the brightest shade you can find. And if you’re not near natural light, say at night, position yourself near a window where light’s coming through, or by a streetlight. Usually you don’t want a flash, but there may be times, such as in a dark restaurant, when you need it. If you’re inside a place without windows, look for an interesting background, like wallpaper or plants.
Then work on your angle. “A lot of people want to put the camera up high so their eyes are big and their hips are small. The problem with that is that people are always looking down on you,” Simpson says. A better approach is to bend forward at the waist, and then look into the camera, pitching your face forward. This works if you’re holding the camera, using a selfie stick or propping it up on a surface using the timer.
“Anything you want to emphasize, put closer to the camera, like your eyes. Anything you want to de-emphasize, push it away from the camera,” she explains. Another trick Simpson recommends is zooming in and then stepping back so the camera can still see you up close, but your facial proportions are more accurate.
The gift of digital is that you can experiment with your photos all you want—and share only the ones you love.