Everyone wants to look their best when someone takes a picture – and with these few great tips you will become the most popular person with a camera thanks to an uncanny ability to capture flattering portraits! These tips are also great for picture-perfect selfies, or manoeuvring yourself into the right spot when a photo is taken of you!

Get up close with a broad light

The closer a light is to the subject, the ‘bigger’ it is, spreading more of itself around. Diffused light like this reduces the shadows in the image and flattens the texture. The result is fewer imperfections in the skin are highlighted. A sunny window (but not with the sun shining directly through) is a perfect source for naturally diffused light. Or you can try and DIY your way to better lighting.

Do not light from the side (or above)

These angles cast shadows that are not conducive to flattering portraits. Light from above (such as a ceiling light or midday sun) will cast a shadow over the eyes, which will either lose the details of someone’s beautiful features or make it look like they haven’t slept for a few weeks. Light from the side will show up every detail in the skin as well as cast an unflattering shadow on those with larger noses.

Think cleverly to diffuse the light

White walls reflect light, so get your subject to move up close for better lighting potential. If you are have lamps you can use but the light is still too harsh – tape some white paper or opaque plastic to the lamp to diffuse the light a little, or drape material over (please be careful – lamps and bulbs get hot, paper and fabric is flammable!).

Consider the quality of the light

Sunlight offers a warmer glow in the morning and late afternoon – Golden Hour is a particularly flattering time to take portrait shots. Indoors, there is a marked difference in light quality between fluorescent lights and tungsten lights – so make the most of your camera’s white balance settings to counteract this where possible.

Finally – a note on camera angle.

Chin up! A downwards angle creates creases in the neck, cheeks or chin and casts shadows, so keep yourself at the same height as the subject or slightly above for a more flattering result! If someone is taking a picture of you – encourage a great shot with a bit of direction!

Show us your portraits in the comments.

Images courtesy of Jenn, Graeme, Pea and RachelMack

January 10th, 2013
Fantastic post :)
January 10th, 2013
Don't forget clouds!
January 11th, 2013
Thanks for posting. Here's one I took recently.

January 11th, 2013
lovely!! thank you for the tips!
January 11th, 2013
Great post - plan to try to put some of this into action soon
January 11th, 2013
Great advice, :)
January 12th, 2013
nice tips - - thanks
January 12th, 2013
My tip for flattering self portraits of me is to keep the light as low as possible.... the lower the better. ;)
January 12th, 2013
oh NOW you tell me . . .
January 13th, 2013
Great tips!! Thank you!
January 13th, 2013
Here is my most recent portrait :)

January 13th, 2013
Thanks for the tips.
January 13th, 2013
This was taken during the golden hour but maybe the shadow of the nose could have been avoided:

January 13th, 2013
I am doing my entire 365 project of self portraits! Feel free to follow me! I'm not shy about sharing my setups!
January 14th, 2013
Everyone wants to look their best when someone takes a picture --- so agree!
January 15th, 2013

Here's my first self portrait... I like how it turned out! However the lighting in my apartment was bad so I went for a very gritty, etched look.
February 6th, 2013

First proper attempt at a self portrait, using sunlight through the window. I can see room for improvement but all in all I was quite pleased with this pic...
February 26th, 2013
Great article!! Here is my most recent selfie, I think composition is key (I was about to delete it until I thought about this crop)

May 21st, 2013
Here's the portrait I'm the most proud of - thanks for the tips in the article! :)

Post a Comment
Sign up for a free account or Sign in to post a comment.