Zero To Photogenic: How To Take The Perfect Profile Picture
Master your mug shot.
We get you: having a camera pointed at you can feel pretty unnerving at the best of times. Inundated with picture-perfect model shots on your Instagram feed, or selfies from your incredibly photogenic Facebook friends, you genuinely start to wonder whether there's something wrong with your face when most of the pictures you get just don't do your IRL hotness justice. Although it might seem that these photogenic people have been born with some weird human-technology symbiosis that allows them to harmoniously communicate with the camera, the truth is that they're only achieving better photos than you because, well, they're not freaking out like you. The one thing you definitely can blame yourself for? Expecting to look flawless in photos when you haven't actually learned how.
Time to befriend that camera – it won't bite! Practise these simple tricks and tips and you'll slay that perfect profile picture in no time – we promise.
Nail the lighting
Were those dreamy shots of '90s Kate Moss you keep reposting taken in a dimly lit basement room? No. Were they taken under the yellow glare of your bathroom light bulb? Fuck no. If you want the perfect picture, you gotta channel your inner photographer and take a moment to explore where the best light falls – because lighting is at least 90 percent of what makes a good shot. If you're taking the photo outside, a large white wall can act as a great reflector for even lighting, and glass buildings can make for interesting effects. Avoid taking the picture in direct overhead sunlight as it can bleach the photo or cast unflattering shadows underneath the eyes. If you're indoors, be sure to aim for the most natural light possible, utilizing windows rather than lamps. Directly facing the window is a must for indoor selfies – just ask the Kardashians.
Never underestimate a good shadow, either – and no we're not talking about the loyal Chihuahua that literally follows you everywhere. If you're out on a bright sunny day, try taking the photo beside a building so that the remaining light artfully illuminates the subject, or stand in the dappled shadows of trees and bushes.
Act like nobody's watching
You're pretty awesome at dancing like nobody's watching – find that same spirit in front of the camera and it can totally transform the shot. Duck faces and crazy poses are all fun and games but they are not only unnatural but often pretty unflattering. Acting natural is a fine art, we know, especially when someone's pointing a camera at you as if you had to perform somehow. Walking with your hands in your pocket, leaning against a wall, or having a fun interaction with someone out of shot are fail-safe ways to bring out the natural you. Taking a whole series of photos in quick succession is also a great way to catch those in-between moments and ease you into it – after all, we've got digital cameras nowadays.
Work that location
Wherever you're standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or a residential street corner, think about how to make best use of the whole space. Training your eye like this will get you addicted to spotting great locations. Make a note of them, take a quick snap on your phone and remember to go back another time.
Shoot from the hip
Full-length portraits are best taken with the camera held at hip height. Not only will you catch that outfit in all its glory, but the proportions will look flatteringly even.
Be a perfectionist
You've probably got a shitload of very similar shots, or experimental shots with different lighting or backgrounds – time to get ruthless. Take time, only select the crème de la crème and never settle for a sub-standard shot. When you've found the one, make use of one of the countless incredible photo-editing apps at your disposal to pimp-up that picture to perfection. And don't solely rely on Instagram filters: Apps like Snapseed are great for making adjustments to exposure, color and contrast. Remember not too overdo it though: too much airbrushing literally makes you look like a frothy cloud, and too many crazy color and art effects definitely make you look like you've got too much time on your hands.