From Facebook, to Twitter, Instagram and the retro MySpace modern day self-portraits have been around for well over a decade. Originating in toothpaste-splattered mirrors with digital cameras and pixilated web cams, the modern day “selfies” have evolved with the advancement in technology. that has only improved more and more with advent of the front-facing camera on the majority of cell phones and tablets today.
In a society that is as picture obsessed as we are, your profile photograph means almost as much as your resume. We judge our lives against others based on the pictures we share of the places we’ve been, the food we’ve eaten, and the people we’ve met; entire subcultures have grown out of this obsession. Artistic profile pictures are nothing new to the scene with coveted photographers mastering the art in their studios for their own social media; however there has been a strong uptick in amateur photographers creating amazing selfies. This can be attributed the availability of decent cameras now integrated into cell phones, Gorillapods, and a host of free and cheap photo editing apps that allow even novice photographers create brilliant self portraits.
In order to help you create the best self-portrait we’ve pulled together a few tips to help you compose the best self-portraits. Don’t worry you won’t need fancy lights, cameras, and photo-editing software.
Play with the light
Some of the most dramatic photos capture make use of light creatively. Wait for the right light to take your photos, or create it yourself. A strong light from a lamp on a wall refracted by a mirror can help you create areas of intense bright light to create some amazing shadows. You can also use natural sources of light such as sunlight and fire to create warm moods and glows to your photos. Try lighting your photos from the top, bottom, and sides to see the different effects you can achieve!
Explore Your City
Urban decay – abandoned warehouses, schools, hotels, roads, railroad stations and more – makes for stunning photographs. Often these spots are breeding grounds for more illicit activities such as graffiti and are where young taggers practice their craft freely with little fear of being caught. Inside and outside of these decaying relics can be found some of the most amazing art. Use these places as backdrops to create unique looks, edgy moods to your photos that are unique to you.
On the flipside luscious green spaces, forests, streams, rivers and fields full of wild flowers or golden grains can also add an earthy, whimsical element to photos. These help create soft, innocent, ethereal moods when combined with the other two elements above.
Give It Time
Great photos take time and can often mean waiting for the right light. Time and patience are crucial to creating the best photos. You may have to wait a few weeks to get a gorgeously clear full moon to show up in the background of your night time forest shoot, but it’ll definitely be worth it in the end. Strong overhead sunlight can also allow you the opportunity to take shadow portraits on pavement, grass or even walls.
While color photographs can be vivid and interesting, monochrome and black and white photos can be just as intense, if not more so. You can eliminate color in a number of ways. Your photo-editing suite of choice can easily turn your photos to monochrome, but many digital cameras are now also equipped to shoot in black and white modes. Additionally stunning photos can be created by highlight a specific color within the photo, leaving the rest in black and white. Strong yellows, greens, blues, reds, and other colors make great statements against monochrome backgrounds, consider picking a featured “accent” color to shine through in your portrait to really make a strong statement about you – perhaps it’s your favorite color!
Make your Selfies with App-titude!
If you’re a photographer already you may have an arsenal of tools and software already at your disposal and can quickly navigate those programs to create the best photographs possible. However, if you’ve just got your smart phone, never fear there are a host of great apps available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play to help you create amazing works of art with just your phone. Many of these apps have free versions or are low cost to allow you some room to play without being cost prohibitive. Some of these apps are:
If you’re not on Instagram already you’re missing out on some great photography of every day life. However, Instagram also contains a powerful editing platform built in that allows you crop, rotate, and filter your photos with ease.
Rookie Editor allows you to add frames, filters, and adjust brightness, saturation, hue, temperature, fade and more right on your phone! Don’t worry about screwing up your photos as it saves a new copy, has undo and redo buttons – it’s like having Photoshop at your fingertips, and best of all it’s free!
Snapseed is another photo editing suite built for you phone that allows you perform many basic photo-editing functions with just a swipe of your finger. Sharpen pictures? Yup! Make it monochrome? Yup, does that too! Compare your edits with the original? You bet it does!
The ultimate in retro photography Hipstamatic allows you to square photos and apply different “film types” to give you an authentic look and feel of an old school photograph, right on your phone!
However the most important thing to remember when taking selfies is to have fun with the pictures! Selfies are meant to be a reflection of you and your style and passions, so make sure no matter what you do with your pictures they really feel authentically you and you’ll win every time!
To see more awesome self-portraits and to for more tips on how to craft spectacular selfies check out Selfies, available now at MyDesignShop.com!
Have some great tips about how to take awesome self-portraits? Share your tips in the comments below!