I am gradually becoming more accustomed to using pictures of myself in my work. The selfie, or self-portrait, has become an almost unavoidable part of life. Getting it right can be a powerful way of representing your own brand or business. Or simply a way to feel good about yourself.
Whether you already have a phone full of selfie’s and would like to make them better, or are still find the whole thing a deeply uncomfortable experience, this post is intended to help. And why not? Let’s get involved, everyone else is doing it!
I have spoken to a great group of women, Instagrammers and professional photographers, to bring together their advice on how to make your pictures even better. They inspire me with their happy and confident photographs. So what are their secrets? In no particular order….
Self-taught stylist and pre-loved clothing enthusiast Caroline Jones came to my attention when she spent a year wearing only second-hand clothes (except for her pants!). In 2015, she posted a picture of herself every day wearing a different charity shop outfit, raising tens of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK. I admire the way that her style in front of the camera has developed to become super relaxed and varied.
Search out the light
My photographs are generally shot outside, therefore the weather plays a massive part and I’m obsessed (really) about good light. I avoid direct sunlight like the plague, instead searching out bright, semi-shaded morning light or soft, uber-flattering afternoon light and meaning that I rarely use a filter. P.S… swerve overhead lighting if you can, it can play mean tricks (think changing room lighting #shudder).
The art of good body language
Movement and varying your angles really helps to make a bank of photographs more interesting: look at magazine shoots, the work of other influencers and models for inspiration. Think about taking a picture seated, vary your hand positions; stand sideways; lean in or even jump in the air, just vary it. Be confident in yourself and that will come through (even if inside you’re having a wobble). Above all don’t be over critical of yourself.
Consider your backdrop
There’s a good chance that my Mastermind specialist subject could be ‘the doorways, steps and walls of Harpenden, 2015 – to present day’. I have a mental checklist of backdrops that I know work, varying from brickwork, metal garage doors, fences, rainy day doorways. Can I bore you any more?
Don’t limit the number of pictures you take
I shoot on my iPhone 7 and take up to 30 pictures per outfit both on the square setting (enabling you to drop straight onto your InstaGrid) and photo setting which I actually prefer because you get more of the detail. When it comes to cropping I use an App called Layout.
Follow @knickersmodelsown on Instagram, and Caroline’s website has a ton of photos for further inspiration.
Busola is an interiors and lifestyle editor and writer for magazines such as Living Etc. Her fab Instagram feed is a mix of food, fashion and furnishings. All the Fs. She just looks smashing in her pictures, Mr Busola Evans is the photographer.
Practise in a full-length mirror beforehand
I know this sounds vain or a bit juvenile but it’s worth practising some poses in the mirror before you go in front of a camera. It’s a good way of knowing which angles suit you and how best to stand, tilt your head, or place your hands so you’re happier with the final pictures.
Turn your body at an angle
Standing straight on and facing the camera is not always the most flattering pose. I find turning my hips slightly can help them look slimmer, for example. Don’t feel you have to look straight into the lens – often some of the nicest photos are ones in which you look like you’ve been caught unawares.
Granted, it’s not a tip that used by fashion models or Victoria Beckham, but most people look better with a smile on their face. My husband, who takes a lot of my Instagram photos, often gets me laughing with silly (and often very rude) jokes. Or you can play some music from your phone to put you in a fun, relaxed mood.
Follow @busolaevans on Instagram
Megan Auman is a jewellery designer, metalsmith and creative educator. She admits that she was once so uncomfortable appearing in pictures that she didn’t even have a photographer at her own wedding. Today, she happily appears front and centre of her Instagram feed, promoting all aspects of her business using her own image. She’s got some great tips, especially if you would like to ease yourself gently into the selfie game.
Megan and her red lipstick
Wear bold lipstick
Many women feel uncomfortable appearing in an image without a full face of makeup, but if you’re like me and rarely wear makeup, this can create a real reluctance to show up on camera. My favourite trick is simply to throw on a bold lipstick colour (and no other makeup.) A bold lip immediately wakes up your face and draws focus away from other “flaws” you might be stuck on. Plus, it literally takes under a minute! Since most women put on their lipstick last, it’s easy to assume that lipstick finishes off an already done face. But you’d be surprised at the difference it makes without any other makeup. (And if you haven’t found your favourite shade of bold lipstick, keep trying! There’s a colour out there for everyone.)
Get creative with cropping
If you aren’t used to seeing yourself in images, a full body shot isn’t the best place to start. It takes practice to find your ideal full body pose, and the more of yourself you see, the more you’re likely to nitpick your appearance. Instead, experiment with bringing different parts of your body in and out of the camera frame. My favourite close crops are the mouth (gotta show off that bold lip) and neckline (it helps if you’re wearing a fabulous necklace) and the one shoulder crop. Move your body so that one side of your shoulder/torso is out of frame. It immediately helps you follow the rule of thirds and breaks up a wide expanse of fabric, making even the most basic outfit look more interesting. And if you’re still feeling camera shy, experiment with photographing other parts of your body (like your hands). Showing bits of yourself will still add personality as you get comfortable with yourself in photos!
Ashley has been a friend to me since I ventured on to Instagram to begin my Not About the Kids project. I’m not really even sure how we found each other! She is a pro blogger, whose motto is “it’s never too late to be who you want to be”. She uses her image to represent her business online writing about fashion, style, interiors, beauty and much more.
I would say when having your picture taken don’t pose and try to be natural. Hide of camouflage the bits you don’t like and smile, smile, smile.
Never worry about what other people think. Your body is your friend not your enemy, be proud of it!
Now the professionals
We can all spend time figuring this out on our own or go straight to those who know. I have picked the brains of two brilliant photographers. May I introduce….
Sophie Lindsay is a portrait photographer with nearly 20 years experience (how can this be possible, she looks barely 25?). Follow her beautiful Instagram feed for gorgeous photographs of Dorset.
Photographs can be fun
I know not everyone relishes the idea of having their photo taken; in fact, more often than not, my clients tell me that they really dislike it. Luckily there are lots of things you can do to make it a success, and (believe it or not) fun. Whether you’re having some photos taken of your family, or a creative entrepreneur wanting some personal branding photos, it helps to remember why you’re having them done. Good portraits elevate your brand, allow people to get to know you better, tell your family story and create a legacy for your children. Focus on why you’re doing them in the first place, and it will give you the confidence to embrace it.
I encourage people to bring props to a shoot – holding onto something can help you relax and bring some of your personality into the image. I recently had some personal branding portraits done for my business by my talented friend Patrick Butler-Madden, and I bought a bunch of polaroids, a couple of vintage cameras, some flowers, a favourite coffee mug, some glasses, my laptop, and various other trinkets. These items helped represent my work as a freelance creative entrepreneur and gave my photos more character.
Strike a pose
I always like to go for some variation, so make sure you don’t just do one pose. Shake it up and try new things! Remember, you don’t always need to look at the camera. If you’re feeling nervous, movement is a great way to create natural images. Try walking away from the camera and turning around. Walk towards the camera. Jump in the air, be silly. Play loud music and have fun. Be aware of your posture and be careful not to hunch your shoulders. Make sure your neck is elongated, as if you have a string pulling you from the top of your head, then lean forward and slightly lower your chin. If you’re feeling like you’re pulling a photo face or a forced smile, close your eyes, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, open your eyes and smile.
Caroline is a fantastic photographer who has been so kind (and patient!) as to take pictures of me recently. She’s has a talent for putting people at ease when they are in front of the camera.
Find a frame
Frame your image and add some depth of field. Don’t necessarily place yourself in the middle of the shot. Find a more interesting way of capturing them. If there is a wall or pillar, get close to it on the side/bottom/top of the frame and then focus beyond it. It gives a lovely dreamy effect and more interesting shot.
Crop and chop
Don’t be too literal in your shots. Think, can I crop in tighter, what would it look like from above, down low, just part of the body, could it just be a suggestion of what is happening? We’re pretty good at reading images, so have fun with it and enjoy the freedom to be different.
Relax and enjoy
The best people images are captured in the moment. Watch what is going on around you, start a conversation, find something funny and enjoy being part of that. When you are relaxed that’s when the best shots happen.
I would love to know how you feel about selfies, totally at ease, or awfully awkward? Comment below and we can chat.