Ok, so you need to update your LinkedIn, website, instagram, clubhouse, or whatever profile photo, but your selfie stick isn’t helping. Here’s a quick guide on how to capture a solid self portrait that you can be proud of! Before we start, here’s a list of what you need:
- Something to prop up your phone. You can use books or pillows – I use this tripod – it’s great for photos and also for holding my phone when I need to look at a recipe or when I’m FaceTiming with my fam.
- I recommend downloading the Lightroom App (it’s free) so you can give your photos a professional edit.
- Optional: some kind of cloth backdrop (in my instagram reel I used a curtain tucked into dresser drawers and I also used some tulle to add color and texture – obviously this was for fun and not totally necessary)
Alright, here we go.
Find good light.
Standing in front of a window on an overcast day is going to give you the softest, most even light on your face. Take a look at the shadows in the room before you set up your tripod – your best bet is to use a window that doesn’t have sun blazing through it when you’re taking the photo (unless you want some cool dramatic shadows, in which case go for it). If you are standing parallel (sideways) to the window to get your photo, you can turn your face slightly toward the light to bring your features out of the dark. See the difference below?
Use Self-Timer / Burst Mode
You should have this option whether you are using a camera phone or DSLR. If you’re using an iPhone, tap the little clock icon at the top of the iphone screen and use the 10 second option. Your phone should automatically take 10 photos, and you’ll be able to select your favorite (when viewing the photo, hit “select” at the bottom of the screen and you can find your favorite).
If you just need a headshot, you can crop your photo to include only your shoulders. Experiment with tilting your head slightly in different ways and also looking head on. If you want a casual, “this is my life” photo, grab something to hold; a coffee mug, a computer, your hair, your face. Make the shot interesting by creating angles with your arms and legs; lean your arms across your knees, lean your head on your hand. Put all of your weight on an arm as you lean to the side, or if you’re standing, put all of your weight on your back leg and maybe pop your knee out.
In most cases, the cleaner the better. You don’t want a ton of environment around you distracting from the self-portrait…otherwise it’s just a picture, not a portrait. If you’re using an iPhone, you might have to get the phone uncomfortably close in order to cut out your surroundings. See this setup? I had the camera inches from me but it still got most of my body.
I love incorporating fabric in the background of self portraits to add color and texture – usually just draped behind me. You can use museum wax to hang lightweight fabrics on walls, shelves, and windows without having to create holes in your walls from tacking anything up. You can drape fabric over chairs, tuck it into dresser drawers – just make sure you do it next to or in front of a window so you can get that good light!
Add some edits!
Maybe you just need to crop your photo, or maybe you want to add a slew of edits messing around in Lightroom. Either way, I do recommend importing your image into your Lightroom Mobile app and doing a couple of minor edits. Go into the “light” section and increase the whites, decrease the blacks, lower the highlights a bit. If you have presets saved, try applying one of your favorites and adjusting the light if you need to. My favorite presets for self portraits in my Winter Preset Packs are “January Vibes” in the Winter Day pack and “Flurries” in the Snow Day pack. Export the photo and you’re finished!