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7 Tips for Taking Great Photos and Selfies

by Michelle Lemire {{"2015-01-23T15:26:13-08:00" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

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Selfie addicts, occasional Instagrammers, and even camera dodgers know the importance of a great-looking photo. But for each gorgeous Facebook picture with bright eyes and beautiful skin, there are hundreds of self-conscious photos featuring half-closed eyes and washed-out complexions.

To make sure your photos are on the “Wow!” list, we’ve compiled key professional tips to help you take the best selfies ever.

7 Tips for Taking Great Photos and Selfies

Find Your “Good Side”

Find your best side by turning and tilting your head just a few degrees left or right. Snap a few pics and see what looks best to you. Photographer to the stars Matthew Rolston says: “The majority of people look best when their face is tilted at a slight angle to the camera, as opposed to straight on.” He adds, “If your nose curves to the left, favor the left side of your face, otherwise, the curve of your nose may be greatly exaggerated.”

So which is the “good side” for most people? Los Angeles-based celebrity photographer Stefanie Keenan tells that “about 80 percent of the people she shoots have the right side as their best side. To make the best of this, she says to keep your chin down and tilt your head slightly to the right. Don’t go full profile or anything, just about three-quarters to the side.”

Play up your best feature

What do you love best about your face? Is it your flawless complexion? Full lips? High cheekbones? Or is it the beautiful hair framing your face? Whatever your most attractive feature is, try glamming it up for the camera:

  • If it’s your eyes, use mascara and eye shadow to make them stand out.
  • Love your smile? Find a gorgeous lip color, and let your eyes and cheeks stay more neutral.
  • Instead of pushing hair out of your face, trying pulling it forward a bit. Let everyone see your fantastic new cut or color.

Worried about that double chin that magically appears out of nowhere in even the thinnest person’s photos? Photographer David Peterson suggests: “To make your face look slimmer, shoot your selfie from slightly above. If you’re including your torso in the shot, turn one shoulder slightly towards the camera. Stick your neck out just a little, which will help eliminate that little bulge under your chin.”

Take your time

The biggest myth about perfect selfies is that they are instant! Only America’s Top Models and celebrity A-listers can take the right shot the first time—and sometimes even they fail at it. As Hayden Manders from Refinery 29 puts it, “It’s going to take a couple tries doing the same pose, and another five minutes choosing what variation of the pout looks best… You’ve already invested time in your look; why wouldn’t you spend time achieving the perfect pose?”

Play around in front of a mirror for a while before you start shooting. Then you don’t even have to think about deleting the photos you don’t love.

Lighten up

“For me, it’s all about the lighting… I always like bright, frontal lighting. I think it makes you look gorgeous and illuminated,” says Victoria’s Secret model Lindsay Ellingson.

Good lighting is key to making any photograph look fabulous. Dimly-lit living rooms or florescent lights in the bathroom just won’t cut it. For the majority of people, natural light is the most flattering. Just remember these things:

  • If you’re outside, keep the sun in front of you to brighten your face. Sun coming at you from an angle will create shadows and distort your features.
  • If you’re inside, trying standing near a window and using a thin curtain to diffuse the sunlight, making it softer and more flattering across your features.
  • Turn off your flash. Emily Price from Refinery 29 stresses, “Not every dark photo benefits from the flash. Try taking pictures without it first and see how they turn out. You’ll be surprised at how well your phone handles low-light situations—and how much better your photos look.”

Do a Background Check

A cluttered background will immediately take away from the most important part of your photo: You! Before you start snapping, find a solid-colored wall or textured (not patterned) curtains. Don’t have a blank canvas? Bring the camera in a little closer to cut out the beauty products, dishes, or piles of laundry in the background.

Try a Full-length Shot

When you’re ready to show off that great new outfit or the results of your recent workouts, a full-length photo is the only way to go. But we highly suggest getting a friend to snap the pic. You won’t do yourself justice holding the camera, no matter how far off to the side you try to hold it.

For the most flattering pose, Stylecaster suggests you work it the same way the stars work the red carpet: “Position your body 45 degrees and put the arm closest to the camera on your hip. Then plant one foot slightly in front of the other, point your toe to the camera, and place your weight on your back leg.”

Get the group together

For those occasions when you’re fitting all of your friends into the picture, here are a couple tricks of the trade:

  • If you’re holding the camera, keep it just above your eye level. Too low, and we’ll be looking up your nose. Too high, and you’ll probably get cut out of the picture as everyone else tries to squeeze into the frame.
  • If someone is taking the picture for you, make sure you’re not all striking the same pose. Not only will it look like a high school class photo, not everyone’s body type looks good in the same position. Take a second to let everyone stand whichever way works best for them.

Now that you know how to take share-worthy photos and selfies, get them out there, and make sure to share your before & afters with us on Facebook and Instagram @madisonreedLLB. Don’t forget to hashtag #MadisonReed!

Your hair should be as radiant as you are—because feeling beautiful is everyone’s best accessory. Build your Hair Profile at Madison Reed today, and choose the colors that look best on you!