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Selfies. Two Photography Tricks You Didn't Know You Knew

Okay, so everyone takes a good selfie nowadays. Truth be told, it’s not a new thing, just the name is. People have been taking “self portraits” for years, but now that it’s called “selfie”, its somehow become a phenomenon. Well recently I noticed that these selfies are becoming awfully similar to each other, with the same poses being used over and over. Now granted, it’s a headshot, so there’s not an endless number of poses, but still, some are used far more frequently than others. It dawned on me that these poses are used for specific reasons, whether the poser realizes it or not. So, I thought I’d outline a few photography tricks, and how you they are often being taken advantage of in something as simple as a selfie.

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1) Why Crazy Angle Selfies? Because objects that are further away from the camera appear to be smaller. The top two images here exemplifies that statement. In the first image, I unconsciously swept my hair to the front of my face, leaning in a way that flatters two areas. One, my face looks smaller behind thicker hair, and two, my body looks smaller as it is way in the background. When I pose people (women especially), I often have them lean forward, or put them in such an angle that the top half of the body (chest and up) is closer to the camera, while the lower half (tummy and down) us further away. Combined with body angles, this is a very handy trick. The top right image shows this too, as the image is taken from a slightly elevated angle (you see this a LOT, but usually a much more dramatic angle, as girls take bathroom selfies of themselves from way up high, showing off their outfits). Whatever is closer to the camera will look bigger, masking what is behind.

Real World Example:

SarahMariePhotography_0073

In the real world, I pose things that should look smaller (moms- always the toughest critics to themselves) behind things that should look bigger (husbands, or the focus of the picture, like the baby).


2) Why Car Selfies? Because reflective light is soft and flattering. Okay, so you’ve all done it, or at least seen it. Car selfies. Why? There’s nothing attractive about you sitting in a car with a seatbelt across your body, but for some reason it’s a really popular place to grab a quick selfie. The reason is because of the light! Inside a car (at least in the front, you are facing big windows (big in relation to your face), and the bigger your light source is, the softer the light falls on your face. You have the sun, a huge light source, pouring through big windows, and reflected on the shiny dashboard in front of you. It’s a recipe for lighting success. In the photography world, I pose subjects either in open shade (you are in shade, but if you look up, the sky is clear above you. The light reflects from the walls around you) or I use a reflective surface (a reflector if I have it, or a white wall, window or shiny mirror, for example) to get the softest light on their face. The other reason the car selfie is so nice is because you have a lot of light, but it’s not directly hitting you. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when the sun hitting you is a good thing. It makes for dramatic lighting and can be very nice. For that soft, buttery light though, having the sun not hit you right on is the ticket.

Real World Example:

In the real world, I use open shade, with light reflecting off of a building (like the picture on the left), or indirect sunlight that is hitting the area near my subject, but not on it (like in the image to the right).

In the real world, I use open shade, with light reflecting off of a building (like the picture on the left), or indirect sunlight that is hitting the area near my subject, but not on it (like in the image to the right).


Go through your selfies and you’ll see a few trends. What are they? I’ll be doing another one of these posts another time!

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