Serve up some face.
One day I decided that I wanted to have a few hot pictures of myself for Instagram. I didn’t have an avatar with my face in it and I felt that I needed to jazz things up. So, in true Naya fashion, I put together a selfie photo shoot in my bathroom.
I understand how to use a camera, but I’m no photographer. If you’d seen how ridiculous my setup was, you’d wonder how I got an even halfway decent shot of myself. I still wonder that myself sometimes…
Anyway, after a couple of hours in my bathroom (yeah, I just said that), I had a photo album full of pretty cool shots of myself.
All I needed was:
- My laptop
- My phone
- My hair & beauty tools
- Mood music
- A glass of water
Notice how I didn’t mention clothes.
You’ll see from my shots that I went topless—you don’t have to do that. However, just know that I didn’t account for clothes at all when putting together this quick guide.
There are lots of things to consider about if you’re going to attempt a selfie photo shoot—but, of course, I’ve done the thinking for you.
Quick note: a few of the images that you’ll see in this post are raw (unedited). I left them a little dark and less vibrant so you can see what they might look like in their natural state. I didn’t want to show you a bunch of fully edited pictures that might inflate your expectations and leave you feeling discouraged during your shoot.
Check your memory
Make sure you have the memory for a selfie photo shoot before you start—nothing kills a shoot like “Memory Full”.Check your hard drive or your phone’s memory to see if there’s space for around 1-2 GB of photos. If you’re not sure how to do this, look on Google (or your favorite search engine) for “check my [device name]’s memory”.
Set time aside
Ideally, you’ll be in a location where you have complete control over the surroundings. It’d be nice to take these pictures running through a field, but maybe we’ll just keep it to a room in the place you live for this first one, yeah?
This could take a few hours, so you might not want to try to attempt this as you’re getting ready for a night out. Block out at least three hours of time when you think you’ll be uninterrupted.
Consider your equipment
Are you going to use your phone and a selfie stick? Do you have a camera with burst mode? Do you have a tripod? Are you going to use your laptop?
For my shoot, I used my phone for some shots and I used my laptop for the rest. My laptop has a program called PhotoBooth, which has burst mode, but that wasn’t giving me the quality I wanted. So (warning: this is very hack-y) I full screened a video program (I think it was Quicktime, but you could probably use iMovie or something similar) while it used my webcam to prepare to shoot a video.I never hit record, so my webcam was only showing me a preview of what it would have shot if I had hit record. When I got into a pose I liked, I took screenshots of that. A lot of command+shift+3.
If you go that hacky route, make sure your arms don’t get in the way of a good shot. You can’t tell in the picture, but I’m using one of my hands to do a screen shot.
Set the mood
You’re going to have to give the camera something. Do what you need to do to get into that zone first. Mood music? Yes, please.
Set the scene
You’ll need to consider the background and the lighting. Lighting is tough, so here are some things to look out for:
- The light should be facing you, not behind you. If the light isn’t coming at you, you run the risk of creating shadows and making your face too dark to see.
- Make sure the light is bright. You don’t want to create shadows on your face.
- But not too bright—you don’t want to look washed out. If parts of your face look completely white, or way lighter than the rest of your face, you need to turn down or move away from the light source.
- Cover your windows. Because the lights outside may change throughout your shoot, you may want to cover the windows from the beginning of your first photoshoot.
- Don’t depend on your flash. Try a few shots with flash and without to see which you like better.
When it comes to the background, you might not have a space where there’s nothing behind you or on the walls. If that’s the case, remember that you only really need the area right behind and around your head to be clear. Think of an imaginary picture frame around you. You don’t want anything other than you in the frame. You can cut out everything else when editing.
You want to make sure the immediate area around your face / body is free from any background clutter. It makes photos so much easier to edit!
Will you need time prepping hair and makeup or shall this be au natural? My advice: start as light as possible and then build from there if you’re going to be going for multiple looks (which you should).
Plan the faces
As this photoshoot is for so much more than a duck face and a filter, you want to think ahead of time about what look you’re going for. Look at some other great photos from awesome shoots that you can use for inspiration and try out those poses in the mirror ahead of time. Why ahead of time? Because you don’t want to set up the shoot only to realize that you can’t achieve that pose in the position/location you’ve chosen.
If you’re really going to do this right, plan to be sitting in one place for a while. Eat before you begin. Put your phone on airplane mode for minimal distractions. Plan to take breaks if you need to. Get something cozy to sit on (if you’ll be sitting). The top of my toilet seat was not soft. The pillow I put on top of it was. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
Your first few shots, or looks for that matter, might not be what you’re hoping for. That’s OK. Try small changes in your poses and see if that helps. Don’t stop to look at each shot. Take as many shots as you can in one pose and then review them for deletion later. If you must, look at the shots only between poses.
Consider your editing options
You’re probably not going to want to use the photos raw. You might notice that things are a little dark, or too light, or too blue, or too yellow—you get my drift.
Think about the programs you’ll be using to edit the pictures. If you don’t have—or don’t know how to use—Photoshop, that’s fine—it’s not necessary. You can use iPhoto or some Windows equivalent. There are a couple of other programs that can help you out with that too.
Here is a list of some free alternatives to Photoshop.
You worked it, now share! Use the pictures from your selfie photo shoot as profile pictures, or avatars, gallery photos for your Tinder profile, or try to convince your local department of motor vehicles to let you use them on your driver’s license (OK, don’t do that).
If all of this goes wrong and you hate your shots, don’t give up! Learn from your experience and try again on another day. Maybe invite a friend to help you get it right. Believe me, you can do this.
I want you all to be the first to know that I’m working on an eBook that goes into greater detail about how to conduct your selfie photo shoot. This book is for someone who really wants to master the selfie photo shoot and save a ton of money on headshots in the future. If you sign up below, you’ll be the first to know about the release of the eBook and, who knows, there might even be a little something extra in it for you 🙂