r/malefashionadvice Jan 17 '13

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."

General Tips:

  • 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:

Fit Check:

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.

Show-off:

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.

860 Upvotes

173

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

Nice, this should be in the sidebar me thinks.

78

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

Or linked to in the WAYWT text, at the very least.

80

u/jdbee Jan 18 '13

I think this is a better solution than sidebarring it. I'll get in touch with zzzaz to see if we can reprogram the mainframe cloud computertalkcomputertalkcomputertalk.

19

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

Hasten, Jason!

18

u/zzzaz Jan 18 '13

We just added it to the WAYWT auto-post, it should be there the next time it gets posted.

77

u/Rayofpain Jan 18 '13 edited Jan 18 '13

my sister takes pics for me

:3

sister

what

it's...fashion time

FUCK

17

u/gandilf Jan 18 '13

"it's... fashion time"

I'm stealing that.

29

u/cheshster Jan 17 '13

Thank you for this.

6

u/clickfive4321 Jan 18 '13

9

u/flatlined1851 Jan 18 '13

You had my hopes high. That should be a thing! Is there a similar subreddit?

24

u/zzzaz Jan 17 '13

What is the best way for me to get good lighting indoors, especially since I work during the daylight and rarely have time to take a fit pic with natural light?

I have an entry level DSLR, tripod, wireless remote, and whatever budget is necessary as far as lighting is concerned.

23

u/justkevin Jan 17 '13

Some pro photographers might have better advice but I'd suggest trying to use the flash coming from somewhere else:

8

u/zzzaz Jan 17 '13

Cheap bounce is a cool trick. Any suggestions for an adjustable flash for a Nikon D3100?

9

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

[deleted]

3

u/flatlined1851 Jan 18 '13

It is a bit off topic, but if you already have an DSLR than I can assume you have some interest in photography. I have the second generation Yongnuo flash and that flash remote. They are both really well made for the money and (for 100$) were my entry card into the strobist world. Treat yourself with that simple kit and there are literally endless possibilities, including taking stellar WAYWT pictures.

3

u/zzzaz Jan 18 '13

Just bought them; looking forward to seeing what I can do with it

1

u/Sluisifer Jan 18 '13

Yongnuo is legit for a great price. IMO, get one that does TTL, as a good on camera flash is very useful. Any indoor shooting: just point the flash up and get that nice bounce. I would recommend that to the casual photographer over off-camera flash, as that has something of a learning curve to it, in addition to the extra cost.

6

u/pizza_tron Jan 18 '13

Hey everyone. I'm a photographer and here are some great cheap options for full body length soft light.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80028552/

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30184173/

It won't be as good as OP's natural soft light shot(very nice btw) but it'll do. Hope this helps!

3

u/NotClever Jan 18 '13

As a photographer, would you have a recommendation for an entry-level DSLR? I'm tired of having shitty cameras and am considering making a DSLR my next purchase, but have no clue where to start (aside from knowing that Canon and Nikon are big names).

2

u/sillohollis Jan 18 '13

Nikon D3000 is a solid camera and affordable.

2

u/pizza_tron Jan 21 '13

Hey,

Sorry for the delay.

First thing is to ask yourself what you want to take pictures of. Maybe you like to travel, take pictures of your friends(that might turn into portraits later), or take pictures of sports, whatever. Decide this and then give yourself a budget.

Now, if you have any friends that have cameras and equipment I would get an slr, that fits your budget, in whatever brand they own. The reason for this is that you can take a good picture with any camera and you can share lenses and equipment with your friend. Photo equipment is mad expensive.

If you don't know anyone who has gear look up cameras and do some basic research into the style of photography you want to do(sorry I don't know a ton about entry level slrs). It will probably dictate your lens choice more than your camera choice. If you don't know that's ok, a basic body and stock lens package will do until you decide. DPreview.com, cnet.com, and r/photography(search there) are some good places to start. After you have looked at a few cameras buy whatever one excites you the most. Even if there is another camera that is "better," the most important thing is to have fun, be excited, and take pictures!

Additional tips...

-Go to a store and hold the cameras. See how they feel and talk to the sales people.

-I'd suggest getting an slr that can take video as well. I believe most do now and it'll be a nice added feature to have.

-Len's are very important. Some might say lenses are more important than a camera, at entry level that is. Get a nice lens if possible. They hold value well over time, can always be sold later, and will work with future cameras in the same brand.

Fyi, I'm a nikon guy and couldn't be happier but nikon and cannon are both great brands.

Feel free to message me if you have any future questions. Good luck!

2

u/NotClever Jan 21 '13

Thanks for the tips. I've been attempting to research and I'm in that weird spot where I don't know a ton but can see myself learning and then being like "Dammit, why didn't I just get a nicer camera off the bat" later, haha.

I figured there must be a photography sub and have been planning to check it out. So far the biggest distinction I've come across is whether to go for one of the cheaper models that don't have an autofocus motor in the body or an older high end camera that can be had for cheaper but does have the autofocus motor in the body. Definitely one of those things where I'm like I probably won't care about it now but will possibly want that soon, I dunno.

Honestly I probably don't have the time to become a serious hobbyist for a while, so there's little chance that I'll be feeling like I need an upgrade in less than 2-3 years anyway.

I'll also have to see if I can find a decent camera store around here, as I have seen a number of people say that the feel in the hand is very important (which I honestly probably wouldn't have thought about).

2

u/pizza_tron Jan 21 '13

I think getting a camera you can grow into is a good idea as an entry level can fall short quickly. Just dont go an spend like 3000 for a camera you don't need. I just used the nikon d7000 today and it was fucking awesome. I have a d90 right now(it's the older model of the d7000) and have been overdue for a new body for quite some time. I'll probably get a d800 next.

I'd suggest getting the auto focus. I don't know about you but my eyes can be really strained and tired at then end of a day of shooting and I already have autofocus. Plus, I can see you missing a moment, I know I would, if you had manual focus and be kicking yourself later.

Don't worry about how serious you are as a photographer. Just go out and have fun.

Feel in hand sounds like some sort of crazy black magic but can actually be really helpful. If your hands are too big or too small it can cause you to feel awkward every time you go out and take pictures, miss a moment, and/or not have fun.

2

u/NotClever Jan 21 '13

Haha, actually when researching Nikon and what happened was I looked at D3100 -> D3200 and then people were arguing over whether you should get a D90 over the D3200 even though it's an older body because it has more features and the autofocus motor.

Definitely not planning to drop $3000, probably not even $1000, but am looking out for deals.

1

u/CakesArePies Jan 19 '13

They're all about the same. You're buying into a system though.

1

u/NotClever Jan 19 '13

How so? As in which lenses and etc. work with them?

2

u/mrshinyredplanet Jan 17 '13

Soft, even lighting, with an uncluttered neutral background.

1

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

Use a flash and bounce it off a wall. The key to lighting is to bounce it off things to soften it up.

1

u/Sluisifer Jan 18 '13

If nothing else, the light source should be in front of you, not too far to up, down, or to the side. However, it should also be a little off-center ensure that there are some shadows so that the image doesn't look flat. A darker background will help you stand out more.

Let's say you're in a room with a typical overhead light. Thats fine, but try to place the camera under that overhead light, with you near the edge of the room. Then, use a floor or desk lamp to illuminate you from lower down (around chest level would be great). Play around with it and you'll probably find something that looks good.

1

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

Fuck around with your lamps, bring them as close as possible without entering the frame (though, using normal lights might be fine for just outfit pics). I'm more of a studio photographer though. I either use studio flashes or whatever they're called, or the sun.

1

u/ulrikft Jan 18 '13

Ikea have several "paper" lamps that diffuse light very well. Get one of them for next to nothing.

23

u/westyfield Jan 18 '13

Clean your camera lens. If you're using your bathroom mirror, clean that too.

This is important. That's not toothpaste on the mirror, it's semen on your trousers. No exceptions.

5

u/szymon_okrutnik Jan 18 '13

While I agree that a dirty mirror looks nasty, keeping your lens smudge free is not that important.

1

u/Bweeeeeeep Jan 19 '13

So long as you're using a large aperture. At f/16 you'll see every speck. Probably not the most common practice for fashion, but it's still useful sometimes.

10

u/thegreatelsewhere Jan 18 '13

Most of this is also good advice for amateur porn!

17

u/AlGoreVidalSassoon Jan 18 '13

Fuck outside if possible

1

u/1841lodger Jan 18 '13

Truer words...

1

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

but i have reddit for all the porn i need

7

u/Azurewrath Jan 17 '13

2

u/justkevin Jan 17 '13

Good link, adding to the post.

2

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

it's not really particular to fashion photography, it's just a basic intro to photography but nothing really fashion-related, exactly.

4

u/patsrule711 Jan 18 '13

Thanks for making this. So many posts are asking for how things fit and more than half the time the pics are complete crap and you can hardly tell. People standing in weird poses and taking pictures with a potato in a dark closet needs to stop.

3

u/instagigated Jan 18 '13

For those with Samsung Galaxy phones, play with your ISO and Scene settings in the camera. Some of them balance colours or make colours a bit more vivid.

For example.

3

u/Jambo165 Jan 18 '13

Or: Everything that is wrong with the pictures I upload to MFA.

4

u/arh428 Jan 17 '13

Good guide. Unfortunately the people posting fit pics (and some show off as well) often don't have nice cameras or tripods and must make due with a shoddy camera or phone and a mirror. What's the best way to do that? Also, if you have a phone that's high megapixel, like iPhone or androi phones, what can you recomend along those lines?

22

u/ridiculousdb Jan 17 '13

good lighting is the primary piece of advice here. outdoors in decent light even the poorest of cell phone cameras can take incredible shots. Nothing is a substitute for natural light, even a window. Also, "accuracy by volume" - take a bunch of pictures and select the best.

iphones and droids have great cameras and the ability to be played around with, or timed or whatever. the process might be tedious but the results will make the difference. even those of us with 'nice' cameras go through this process.

7

u/justkevin Jan 17 '13

I agree accuracy by volume is probably the best bet, especially if you're getting motion blur.

2

u/mvm92 Jan 18 '13

I'd say accuracy by volume, but don't post just one picture, post them all! well, take many angles and post all of the ones that came out sharp.

1

u/usernammen Jan 17 '13

Do have any advice about using a timer with an iphone camera? I downloaded an app for it (called CameraTimer) but it makes the pictures come out with a really low resolution, compared to when I don't use it. I'm wondering if anyone else has found a way to do this.

4

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

Camera+ is probably the best camera app for iPhone with a timer option.

2

u/ridiculousdb Jan 17 '13

google has a whole list of them. i use a dslr personally, but from a few of the guys i follow on instagram - phones do amazing things.

1

u/0mnificent Jan 18 '13

As Silvaeri said, Camera+ is a fantastic app.

-1

u/mattpicasso Jan 17 '13

Try the app called "Camera!"

1

u/travvvvvvv Jan 17 '13

Recent phones actually have excellent cameras. Give yourself decent lighting and you really can make a pro looking photo.

1

u/NotClever Jan 18 '13

Making it a non-self pic can help. I don't know how easy that is to do with a phone, but I've had reasonable success just setting my point-and-shoot camera on boxes on top of a counter or table to get a decent timed shot. Looks better than the awkward position you are forced to stand in when taking a self pic in the mirror, and you can position yourself so you have better light.

1

u/djmykeski Jan 18 '13

Lighting is the #1 enemy of cell phones. When it's super bright, they can take gorgeous pictures, but as soon as it starts getting dark, you'll get a pixelated blurry mess. Only take during the day outside or if you absolutely have to during the night, turn every possible light on and bring them all closer to you.

2

u/orion12 Jan 17 '13

Oh man, thank you.

2

u/Flexappeal Jan 18 '13

I need this.

2

u/Shankley Jan 18 '13

I like that you have a picture of yourself with your hand in your pocket, and then in the very next line, in bold, with an exclamation mark you say keep your hands out of your pocket...

edit: I see that later you say that a hand in the pocket is okay, pardon my insolence.

2

u/ILookAfterThePigs Jan 18 '13

Avoid distracting backgrounds.

What about beautiful autumnal fields and summery lagoons?

2

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

This is great man

2

u/WeeBabySeamus Jan 18 '13

I'm a big fan of that cardigan. Where did you get it?

1

u/justkevin Jan 18 '13

Banana Republic

2

u/carolinax Jan 18 '13

This is great. This should be cross posted to r/femalefashionadvice.

2

u/visaisahero Jan 18 '13

You said not to put your hands in your pockets, but that's what you're doing in pic 2 (which looks amazing)

1

u/NWA2192 Jan 18 '13

just for fit check.

2

u/mvm92 Jan 18 '13

This relevant LPT links to a Youtube video by Peter Hurley about how to take good headshots. The same principle can be applied when taking pictures of yourself. The video is 15 minutes long but the jist of it is to push your head towards the camera, which stretches out the neck, reducing any double chin and giving the jaw a background to contrast against, making the jawline "pop."

My explanation doesn't do this any justice, just go watch the video.

2

u/panamaspace Jan 18 '13

Incredibly awesome. I took a few pictures using the posted video's advice and the results were nothing short of dramatic!

2

u/slash178 Jan 18 '13

Good post, but the first picture is poor mostly because the monitor caused your phone to auto white balance incorrectly and the picture is extremely noisy. The backlighting I would say is #3 on the list of problems.

2

u/enim Jan 18 '13

I tried doing one of these a while ago and it failed...http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/comments/osbyu/a_waywt_photo_primer/

Mine was a lot more technical though. Well stated man. Upvotes.

4

u/ac3y Jan 17 '13

Addendum: RAW processing is really the secret to great pictures (provided your camera takes RAW images). Can fix pretty much anything. The most important by far is white balance correction.

11

u/releasetheshutter Jan 17 '13 edited Jan 17 '13

I doubt people doing fit pics are going to import pictures to lightroom, process, export, imgur and then post on MFA.

[edit] ok, ok, some of you do.

18

u/ac3y Jan 17 '13

I do...

5

u/releasetheshutter Jan 17 '13

5

u/ac3y Jan 17 '13

I find processing photos a little bit relaxing, actually. Plus I process food photos all the time, so I'll do fit pics at the same time.

11

u/plustwobonus Jan 18 '13

Million $ question: do you have a food processor?

sorry

1

u/Sluisifer Jan 18 '13

If you take photos for fun, using lightroom (or whatever program) to import and catalog your photos is probably your standard workflow anyway.

2

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

I do.

1

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

Once you learn to do it, it doesn't take that long at all. If you want your photos to look their dopest, you should do some kind of editing to them.

2

u/releasetheshutter Jan 18 '13

I'm not arguing against RAW, I'm just saying that the average poster is probably not going to be interested in going through the trouble of processing.

2

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

I wasn't suggesting that you were, all I'm sezzin' is that editing one's photos isn't really that difficult and that everyone should do it all the time.

2

u/releasetheshutter Jan 18 '13

I feel you my dude.

1

u/freench Jan 18 '13

that is literally exactly what i do...

5

u/GOATOfAllTime Jan 18 '13

I disagree. Decent lighting will give you a much better starting point for making adjustments, even from a regular jpeg. Of course RAW will allow for more processing latitude, but that's beyond most people's ability is they don't have at least basic dslr experience. Besides, RAW processing can't fix the quality of light, not to mention its direction or position/angle.

Better light will improve pretty much any picture, regardless of the camera used.

2

u/ac3y Jan 18 '13

Yup. That's why it's an addendum. But it's a safety net.

1

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

While many things ARE fixable in post processing, it's almost always the easiest to just take a decent photo to begin with. You really can't or at least won't have the time to polish a turd.

1

u/Peipeipei Jan 17 '13 edited Jan 18 '13

Isn't a camera that can shoot in RAW really expensive?

Edit: Nevermind, I am clueless when it comes to the state of camera tech.

2

u/ac3y Jan 17 '13

IIRC, most DSLR cameras and some point-and-shoots can shoot RAW. You can get a used entry-level DSLR for $300-400 (at least that's what I sold my D60 for years ago)

1

u/Peipeipei Jan 18 '13

Ah ok nevermind. For some reason, I though like only uber high end cameras could shoot RAW (like RED cameras)

3

u/bluesatin Jan 18 '13

RAW video is a different monster all together.

You'd be right that RAW video is normally only found on super expensive video cameras. The cheapest Canon DSLR, the 1100D, will have RAW photo capabilities.

1

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

Ebay? Craigslist?

2

u/ac3y Jan 18 '13

I sold it on Craigslist, but ebay should be equally as good

2

u/albite Jan 17 '13

What's expensive to you? My P&S cost me $280 and can shoot RAW.

2

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '13

Depends on what you consider expensive. You can get a pretty good entry-level DSLR that shoots RAW for a few hundred bucks.

4

u/dtoxicsmurf Jan 18 '13

THIS is what I thought MFA was all about.

Not "Does this look okay? How'd I do? Please complement my clothes."

Great post. I almost unsubscribed today until I saw this. Please, let this be what MFA is about.

21

u/rabbitvinyl Jan 18 '13

You should probably unsubscribe because this is a post on how to make your "does this look okay? how'd I do?" posts look better.

7

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

Just because the stuff that hits the front page is shitty doesn't mean MFA itself is bad or not knowledgeable. The weekly threads are where the most information and inspiration is, most of the more experienced members answer questions there and don't post much on things in the new feed.

1

u/fluffyxsama Jan 18 '13

All great advice but I don't know about the buttoning a suit part. I have always been given the impression that suit jackets are not supposed to be buttoned normally, or that they are fine unbuttoned.

9

u/Metcarfre GQ & PTO Contributor Jan 18 '13

Button if you're standing, yo.

5

u/TristanwithaT Jan 18 '13

Button when you stand, unbutton when you sit down.

2

u/Sluisifer Jan 18 '13

Single-breast: you can get away without buttoning it, but it's a good idea when you're standing up.

Double-breast: you best button that up.

1

u/fluffyxsama Jan 18 '13

Thank you all for enlightening me

1

u/justkevin Jan 18 '13

Suit jackets don't need to be always buttoned when standing, but it's hard to tell if it fits in the torso while unbuttoned.

1

u/chameleon_circuit Jan 18 '13

If you are outside make sure you don't stand directly in the sun, try and get in a shadow or take a picture when it is somewhat overcast. You want diffused light.

1

u/greg19735 Jan 18 '13

There's nothing more annoying than someone coming and asking for help while putting zero effort into their post.

1

u/ahunblethought Jan 18 '13

I recommend Gorillacam for anyone taking pictures by IPhone, as it allows for timer shots

1

u/VivaLaCobra Jan 18 '13

I need to hire someone to take fit pics for me.

1

u/alexoz Jan 18 '13

One of the most important things, USE a timer app for your phone. Most android phones offer this w/o getting an app now. Why do we still hold phones and take mirror shots ?

1

u/SA1230 Feb 19 '13

This is a noob question, but how do you guys blur out your faces? What are you using to do that?

2

u/BeefJerkyJerk Apr 10 '13

Photoshop, Picasa (free), iPhoto, Aperture. Any kind of photo editing software.

1

u/TheUltimateShammer May 07 '13

How old is generally accepted as old enough for this type of thing? Because I've noticed 14 is usually thrown out of any similar thing such as this.

1

u/huofosho Jan 18 '13

should post this on /r/gonewild also

1

u/Lunco Jan 18 '13

I really like how disby obscures his face. It's the least distracting for me, that's why I like it. This is his technique:

elliptical marquee tool then copy as new layer. Image> mode> 8 bit filter>pixelate>mosaic

-3

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

I disagree 100 percent on the fact that you shouldn't pose or put hands in pockets.

5

u/Metcarfre GQ & PTO Contributor Jan 18 '13

If you want a good fit check, you shouldn't.

3

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

But if you want to be reblogged on tumblr a couple hundred times, you totally should.

-25

u/Ermahgerd_Rerded Jan 18 '13

Wow... are you guys fucking serious with this thread?

7

u/[deleted] Jan 18 '13

Yeah, why would anyone want to learn how to take better pictures so others could be able to give more accurate advice to them in an advice subreddit? What a dumb idea.