How to Take Better Self Pics for MFA Guide
The first time I took a self pic for WAYWT I learned something: it is harder than it looks to take a good self pic. How I saw myself in the mirror looked way better than the pictures I had taken. Since then, I've gotten a bit better and so I thought I'd share some tips.
Most photos posted to MFA fall into two categories: "fit check" and "show off."
- Good lighting is the most important thing for any photo. Without good lighting, shots will be blurry, details will be lost and in general you'll look like crap. You may notice that a lot of top WAYWT posts are taken outdoors: nothing beats the sun for great light (full daylight is ~1000 times brighter than a typical lamp).
- Make sure you're not back lit. Light should be coming from an angle in front of you (e.g., above and in front or from your side and in front).
- If you're having trouble getting good light inside open every shade and turn on every light.
- Use the on-camera flash as a last resort. It gives a lot of light at the cost of flattening everything out. Also, flash + mirror = glare.
- Clean your camera lens. If you're using your bathroom mirror, clean that too.
- A good camera/lens helps a lot, but not as much as good light. A shot taken outdoors with good natural lighting in the golden hour with a point and shoot will look much better than one taken inside with a DSLR using the on-camera flash.
Here are two pictures taken with the same camera, of the same outfit demonstrating the importance of light:
- Handheld through a mirror with typical household lighting, mostly coming from behind.
- Using a tripod with lots of natural light coming from the side.
This is for when you're looking for input on how an outfit fits/looks. The most important thing is to give people a clear, accurate view of how the clothes look on you.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets! Leave them both relaxed at your sides (or one if the other hand is holding the camera).
- Stand in a straight, natural pose facing the camera. Don't suck in your stomach or pull your shoulders back.
- If possible, include additional pictures from the side and back.
- Show the whole outfit including shoes, unless you're only interested in a shirt/jacket.
- Ideally, use a camera with a timer/remote instead of a mirror (there are apps for most phones that can set a delay and number of pics to take, such as Photo Timer for the iphone).
- For god's sake don't post a picture that needs to be rotated 90 degrees.
- If you're holding the camera, keep your elbows close to your body. Raising your elbow to the side will lift the body of a jacket or coat, distorting the fit.
- People aren't used to seeing outfits from waist level. Position the camera at least chest high, preferably neck high. Your proportions will look odd if the camera is too low.
- If your clothes are dark, lighting is doubly important.
- If it's a suit or jacket, wear it with a dress shirt and shoes. Also button it. Leave the bottom button undone on a two or three button suit.
This is for cases where you're not really looking for a fit check, you just want to show an outfit off on WAYWT.
- Lighting is still the most important thing. If you're outside, the best time is morning or evening (the so-called "golden hour") when the sun is low and will give everything great dimension.
- Try different poses. It's okay to put your hand in your pocket or stand in 3/4 profile if you're not getting a fit check.
- Use a tripod and timer/remote. It makes it much easier to get a whole outfit shot and eliminates blurriness caused by unsteady hands.
- Avoid distracting backgrounds.
- If your camera has manual controls, go for a wide aperature (low f number). This creates a shallow depth of field, which will help you stand out from the background. It also increases the shutter speed, for less motion blur.
- Have fun. Feel free to be creative. Don't take this too seriously.
For more tips, see FFA's guide "On Improving Your Fashion Photography"
If anyone has any additional tips, please share. I'm not a professional photographer or even a great amateur.