photographer holding DSLR camera, posed for a self portrait shot, how to take the best selfies

Have you ever noticed that you look different (better) in the mirror than you do in photographs? Frustrating, isn’t it? In the hunt for that one perfect picture, we fill up our camera rolls with so many selfies destined for the discards. Surely there’s a trick we’re missing? A secret to taking the best photos of yourself – one that can save you the hassle of all those batch ‘select all – delete’ missions.

Well, we say, no more.

Today, we’re going to give you some handy tips on how to become more photogenic. Plus, we’ll be exploring some of the science behind why you think you look bad in your pictures.

So, whether you’re after an Insta-worthy selfie or a smart headshot for LinkedIn, keep reading. By the end, you’ll be snapping pictures like a pro.


How can I be more photogenic?

The term “photogenic” has absolutely nothing to do with physical beauty. It simply refers to a person’s ability to look good in a photograph.

A lot of the time, the more at home you feel in front of the camera, the better your pictures will turn out. And a little skill behind the lens won’t go amiss either! That’s why we’re here with our top 5 tips to practice, to make yourself appear more photogenic.


1. Find your best angle

People often utter the phrase “Make sure you get my good side!” as a joke. Maybe you’ve even used it before, yourself. It’s a way of saying, “Make sure you take a nice photo of me”.

And it also has a basis in fact.

Our concept of beauty is closely aligned with symmetry. The more symmetrical your face is, the more attractive society is likely to consider you are. But, unfortunately for most people, perfect facial symmetry is extremely rare. And unsymmetrical features don't always look great on camera.

The first step to making yourself look more photogenic, then, is simple:

  1. Work out which is your ‘good side’.
  2. Angle it towards the lens when you are having your picture taken.

Don’t worry, it’s not tough to do. Grab your camera or your smartphone and snap a bunch of selfies from both sides of your face. Then, see which you like better. Then see which other people like better (though perhaps narrow down the choices, first, unless you have a devoted friend willing to scroll through hundreds of your selfies).


2. Angle your camera down

This applies whether you’re taking a selfie, being photographed, snapping a shot of your face or your whole body. Angling your camera downwards has a slimming effect which will always look flattering on film.


3. Smile with your eyes

Also known as “smizing”, this is a tried and tested method which is used by actual supermodels. If you’ve ever seen America’s Next Top Model, you’ll know what we’re talking about.

Don’t worry if you haven’t. Here’s how you can make your eyes smile just as widely as your mouth:

  • Relax your facial muscles.
  • Open your eyes wide and train them on the camera.
  • Smile, of course! Just a little. This look requires you to have a slight, closed-lip smile.
  • Adjust your posture. Pull your shoulders back and lift up your head to make your neck look longer.

It might feel odd at first… but keep practicing. Trust us, it will make you look more relaxed in front of the camera, even if you don’t feel it!


4. Use natural lighting

The key to coming across as more photogenic is making yourself look natural in photographs.

Many content creators use ring lights, which you can attach to your computer or your phone to make your pictures and videos look more professional. These work by mimicking the diffused light you get from natural sources. However, they are no substitute for the real thing.

For best results, go outside or at least stand in front of a window. And make sure the main light source is in front of you rather than behind, to avoid taking shadowy photographs.


5.  Hold a piece of paper under your chin

Look, we know this doesn’t sound very technical, but it really works, we promise! In fact, celebrity makeup artist Michelle Phan recommends it for getting rid of shadows.

She says to stand with the sun on your face and hold a white piece of paper underneath your chin. The white paper will reflect the light and reduce the shadows, making the underside of your face look thinner.


photographer by the shore holding a DSLR, looking off-camera and smiling

How do I take a picture of myself like a pro?

In many ways, it’s as simple as lights, camera, action. Set up your equipment, follow our tips about natural lighting, and get snapping!

But what equipment do you need, and how can you make yourself stand out in the shot? Let’s dive a little deeper into the technique.


1. Have the right equipment

First off, you’ll need a camera.

You’ve probably already got a serviceable one on your smartphone, and yes, this will be enough. But if you’re serious about taking professional-style photographs, we’d always recommend getting yourself a DSLR. Don’t be afraid to play around with the settings on there, either, to get the depth and movement etc. right.

To take pictures of yourself like a pro, you’ll also want to invest in a tripod. This will be invaluable in helping to reduce the chances of your shots coming out blurry.

When using a tripod, you’ll need to set a timer for the picture on your phone/camera. Although, if you are using a dedicated digital camera, you could buy a wireless remote controller to save yourself some legwork.

You might also want to consider getting some additional lenses, depending on the kinds of shots you’ll be taking.


2. Choose your background

You might want to start with a plain background. That will let you experiment to your fullest while you’re still learning. Once you’re more confident both in front of and behind the camera, though, you can start to branch out.

When you are taking pictures on location, look for semi-private spots that will complement your look in terms of colour and mood. It’s much harder to set up a good shot and get a good picture of yourself when you’re in a crowded area.


3. Strike a pose!

Remember how we talked about finding your best angle earlier? This applies to your body as well as your face. While you’re practicing, take lots of shots, and strike a different pose every time. This way, you will soon learn which shapes and angles suit you best.

And again, you always want to look natural, candid. The best and most professional looking photographs will be the ones you just let loose for and had fun taking.


4. Learn to edit your pictures like a pro

Please remember that professional photos are almost always retouched or edited in some way

If your pictures don’t come out like the ones you see on Instagram or in the magazines, don’t be disheartened. Download photo editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom and play around with the exposure and the contrast until you’re happy.

A lot of these apps even have preset filters, so you don’t need to be an expert; you just need the right equipment, which links up very nicely with tip #1!


person taking a selfie with smartphone, how to take photos of yourself with your phone

How do I take a picture of myself with my phone?

Phones these days can do it all – we have a calculator, a compass, a torch… all on one device. Not to mention the camera.

Phone cameras are easily the most convenient ways to snap a quick selfie. If that’s all you’re looking for, you don’t need another device. You have all the tools you need to take a picture of yourself in the palm of your hand.

  1. Square mode - frames your shots perfectly for Instagram.
  2. Burst mode - takes 10 photos per second. Hold down the shutter release button and snap, snap, snap away. When you’re happy you’ve taken enough pictures, take your finger off the button and review. This feature allows you to choose your favourite shots and instantly delete the rest.
  3. 3. Manual exposure - a feature that allows you to adjust the exposure/lighting on your shot before you take it.

However, if you are after a more professional looking shot, we would recommend investing in a good standalone camera, like the Sony Cyber-Shot RX100.


Why do I look bad in pictures but good in real life?

We’ve all had those days - good hair days, usually - when we’ve looked at ourselves in the mirror and felt abundantly confident about our appearance. You take that confidence, ready up your camera, snap away, and… disaster.

Suddenly, you don’t look half as good as you thought you did. But have you ever wondered why that is?

It’s because you’re used to looking at a very specific version of yourself in the mirror. Because it’s the one you see most regularly, it’s also the one you hold to be ‘true’. In pictures, however, that mirror image is reversed, so our faces look all wrong. How close your face is to the camera lens can also negatively impact how you look in pictures.

To find out how to combat these effects, scroll back up to the first section. Once again, it all comes down to knowing your angles.


To summarise

Knowing how to take a good photograph of yourself boils down to two vital factors:

  1. Knowing your angles
  2. Finding the light

Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll understand how to find your perfect angle and capture yourself in the best light. So, all that’s left to do now is to get yourself a camera and start snapping!

DSLR cameras give you a lot more flexibility (not to mention a higher quality of photo) than smartphones do. We suggest you check out these incredible deals on some of our preloved cameras to help on your quest to take the best photos of yourself.