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I'm a beginner photographer. When I try to take photos of myself, they don't look as good as I look to myself. I don't have anyone else to take photos of me. I am using an Android phone to take photos of myself.

I am looking for an application to make me seem normal in photos. If there isn't such an app, I would like some professional tips that will make me look better in photos I take of myself at home.

I see a lot of photos that men and women take of themselves at home that look very good. How do they do this? Do they try more photos or what? I am inexperienced and in an unconfident situation.

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The truth is that a lot of work goes into making those seemingly "effortless" self portraits (selfies) that you see on the internet. This is not something you can achieve with a simple instagram filter or application, though they are made to appear like a snapshot. They require a lot of tricks and experimentation, for example I recently saw an Instagram celebrity who sat on a basketball to make her thighs appear "good" (slimmer) when sitting on a pool edge, though you would never tell this by just looking at the final photo. Additionally it is not uncommon to take above 100 of shots to find one that is really good.

Generally to make good photos of yourself you have to master: posing, lighting, composition, and post-processing.

Posing

this is where a lot of Instagram celebrities stand out and can often make a average looking person look really good. This is quite a large topic, but some quick tips:

  • put your chin out (this will make you appear slimmer with a more pronounced jawline).
  • Check out a list of poses for male photography and try taking a series of photos in different poses and also do photos in between them (these will usually be better, because they will look dynamic).
  • Do not try to force an expression (smile, frown etc.) as this usually looks fake, if you want a smile try to think of something funny or ask a friend to tell you a joke and capture your natural reaction.
  • Additionally look your best: comb your hair, groom or shave your beard, put on ironed and clean cloths matching your style and complexion, etc. also putting a bit of powder on your face will prevent it from shining.

Lighting

There only a handful of classic lighting patterns that flatter a person's face and each is flattering for different facial features. A lot of guys look good with either Rembrandt, split or loop lighting. Try them out in your photos, to see which works for you. Do not use your phone camera flash, try either a lamp indoors or, for better results, a window or when outside the afternoon sun (direct or reflected off of something, for example a large piece of paper or a white wall).

Composition

This is where it all comes together.

  • Choose an simple, uncluttered background (white or brick walls, trees or interesting architecture are usually good) and crop the photos so you don't "cut" at your joints.

  • Experiment with shooting facing the camera, 1/2 profile and a profile from both sides, as different positioning of the face is flattering for different facial features, especially when shooting close up.

  • Usually positioning the camera very slightly above your eye level gives a more pleasant result, but you should also try from below, as this can exaggerate the size of the chest relative to the head, which can be a good thing for men. Putting it at eye level may create a more intensity, especially when looking straight into the lens, but usually accentuates the nose too much.

  • Sometimes putting one of the eyes at the middle of the photo can be effective.

Post-processing

Almost any in-phone photo application nowadays lets you remove blemishes and adjust exposure, contrast, and saturation.

  • Adjust exposure: usually for caucasian men with lighter skin you will have to brighten the photo a bit, for olive-toned skin usually you can leave it "as is" and for darker skin, darken the photo.
  • Adjust contrast and saturation: most phone cameras (I have an android) have low contrast and saturation which makes photographs of people look unnaturally flat, so usually a slight boost in contrast and saturation is usually called for. aim to make the skin look realistic, do not oversaturate it. A good rule of thumb is to slide the sliders until you notice a difference in the picture and then dial them back just a bit.
  • It's better to skip this step then to overdo it, but most portrait photographers remove any very visible red or discolored spots on the face using some sort of "remove blemish" tool. You are aiming to smooth out the skin but without it being at all noticeable, there are plenty of tutorials on this topic.
  • If you want you can also try different filters at this stage as they can hide some of the imperfections in the skin and photo in general. Generally it is better to skip this if you're not sure if it makes the photo look better. Some popular and effective ones right now are split-toning (they make the shadows more blue, and highlights more yellow), low-fi and other film emulations (they emulate the look of a cheap film camera, which can sometimes hide imperfections), and the classic: black and white (be careful with this one, it tends to make a lot of head and shoulders portraits look like something you would find next to an obituary). I would stay away from the more gimmicky ones like the Instagram beauty filter, selective colorization, and heavy vignette as this will make your photos look "cheap".
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    Very good points! In terms of post-processing there's another trick you can do if you're the only thing in the foreground and have a relatively noisy background: Use the freeform selection tool to select yourself as precisely as you can. Copy the selection into another layer. Use a light blur effect on the background and paste yourself back on top of the background. It's a relatively easy way to simulate the depth of focus effect that a higher quality camera could create. – Kempeth Jul 18 '17 at 10:41
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    @Kempeth I agree this can be desirable in specific circumstances, but a) post processing is easily overdone especially when starting off, I even hesitate if trying to remove blemishes is good advice for a beginner b) I'm not sure this is easily achieved in-phone (other than the iPhone portrait mode). – Chris Novak Jul 18 '17 at 12:36
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Making pictures of the human face and body is an acquired skill. Sometimes good pictures are just a matter of luck, but a skilled photographer understands how this is accomplished and uses those skills to reliably make good images of people.

You are not going to learn how to do this by reading a paragraph or two. There is no magic in this, just acquired skill. That being said, the most common error is working the camera in too close.

Compose your picture and then backup and re-compose. If you work in too close facial distortion creeps into the picture. This distorting influence is often minute but when it comes to the human face, distortion is unflattering. Best advice is back away.

Second advice is to seek uncluttered areas shaded from bright sunlight. Good luck!

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    I distinctly remember reading somewhere that if my pictures aren’t good enough, I am not close enough. O, how the times change :)) – Jindra Lacko Jul 18 '17 at 6:42
  • Things close to the camera image larger and things close to the camera image small. If you work in too close, the nose reproduces slightly too big and the ears reproduce slightly too small. We are talking about perspective. You will be more pleased with your image if the picture is taken with a camera that is a little further back. Anyway, try this technique, you will like the results. – Alan Marcus Jul 18 '17 at 14:14
  • My earlier comment (the Robert Capa misquote) should be read in light-hearted manner. Mobile phones have rather wide angle lens, with obvious implications. I did not mean to be serious. – Jindra Lacko Jul 18 '17 at 14:49
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Here are some tips.

Light

  • The light is the most important thing. There are no ugly people, what there is is ugly lighting.

  • Stand near a big window, with no direct sunlight entering. This will give a soft light which is more pleasant.

  • If the window you have is too dark, just stand in the shade. Do not have a bright light in front of you, but to one side. You will open your eyes more this way.

Camera

  • Keep the lens clean. An obvious step.

  • Do not put the camera too low or too high. Put it at eye level.

  • Try to zoom in with the camera and put the camera further away. If you put the camera too close you will have a big nose or deformed face. That is why the sticks are made for.

  • Clean your face. A greasy or sweaty face is not very pleasant. Of course, it can if you are making an advertising for an energy drink, but this is probably not the case.

  • Please, do not use a flat wall as a background. That sounds like a photo for the driving license. Use an interesting one, something with perspective or diagonal lines is better.

Action!

  • Do not force your smile. Simply enjoy taking pictures. If you pose for your photos like you are writing the post (no offense, really) you will take a photo of a person in distress. Enjoy yourself, you are you and that is great! Take a photo of that person.
3

There is no application that will fix this for you. The problem comes down to the fact that photos are flat and we are used to seeing the world with depth.

There are two sets of things you can do to improve on this. The first is improving your photography. Light and shadow as well as angle of a shot are key to making a natural looking photo that gives us clues about depth in a flat image. Using light that has soft shadows that show depth rather than harsh direct lighting (such as from the phone's flash) will help get better images.

The other aspect is modeling. Photos capture a single moment in time. They lack the life that you normally see from how someone interacts and carries themselves. To convey that, you'll need to try different ways of positioning yourself and different expressions and eye lines to find a combination you like. Sometimes modeling for something that will look good in a photo can actually feel very unnatural, such as sticking your head further forward than you naturally would.

Early on, experimentation is best. Keep trying things until you see what you like and work on checking what you did that made it that way and keep refining. Other people can more reliably get better photos because they are familiar with both how to light and also how to model for the camera. With practice, you can get better as well.

As far as more specific details on the second part about techniques, this question already hits on it quite well, so you can check there rather than rehashing that part that has already been covered.

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While the the fellow recommending iphones was ill received (understandably), gear is a consideration. I suspect that part of this struggle is with perspective distortion. Different cell phones have different lenses, some are more wide angle and some less so. The wider the angle of view is, the more perspective distortion will be shown for the same framing (e.g. head and shoulders shot using both lenses). Perspective distortion at wide angles is not flattering. To combat this you could consider getting a different camera phone, alternatively, some add on lenses can help with this. Some mirrors have a bit of a flattening effect, so taking the photo of the mirror instead can combat this and give a more slimming image. Make sure the mirror is clean and be aware of everything shown in the background though. Another way to combat this perspective distortion is to simply get the camera further away even though it means losing your chosen framing, one can use a selfie stick for this. The issue is that you may need to then crop to get the framing you intended, but many cell phones now have a pretty sufficient number of megapixels to do some cropping without too much loss of quality, so I would consider this a valid and useful technique to reduce perspective distortion.

Other points I would have made are covered very well by the answer of Chris Novak.

The effect of different focal lengths when shooting with the same framing can be seen here: http://lens-club.ru/public/files/users/image/portretc.jpg and explained a little with another example here: https://bakerdh.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/face-distortion-is-not-due-to-lens-distortion/

He is correct by the way, it is not lens distortion that does this, but the perspective distortion, which we see as a consequence when we insist on the same framing with the different lenses (to frame tight with a wide angle we need to be very close).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspective_distortion_(photography)

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Use an iphone... really! Borrow one to try it. They make way better photos that look more natural, compared to lesser smartphone cameras.

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    This answer is not correct and is not helpful. There are phones with much better cameras than the iPhone, particularly older iPhones. Either way, the quality of the camera is unlikely to be the OP's main problem. – AJ Henderson Jul 17 '17 at 23:47
  • This isn't a complete answer, but it's also not bad advice. Smartphone cameras aren't all created equal, so just using a different device can make a difference. Beyond that, the iPhone 7 Plus's portrait mode is optimized for what the OP wants to do. If it's simulated bokeh (fauxkeh?) isn't exactly what you'd get with a DSLR, it still helps to de-emphasize distracting backgrounds and it might be just what the OP wants. @pete, you should expand your answer to explain why iPhones do a good job. – Caleb Jul 18 '17 at 17:24
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    The reason for my DV is because I think that recommending specific consumer gear in the fastest-changing market segment is a poor answer in general, that leads to "gear-itis". Also, generally recommending "iPhones", rather than specific versions, is indistinguishable from fanboy-ism (I'm not specifically accusing you of fanboy-ism, it's just that as worded, how can one tell the difference?). That's like just recommending "Nikon" over other DSLRs, rather than specific models. The other answers universally recommend general techniques and lighting, which are more timeless and universal answers. – scottbb Jul 18 '17 at 19:02
  • @scottbb account not stored, new one .. not a fanboy, especially what apple does these days is really painful. but using the iPhone cameras to take portrait photos i had no trouble at all with any iPhone, starting from the 4 series up to 7, even the iPads do it nice. That's why I suggested the OP might borrow one and try it out first. Considering androids, most of the devices I tried produced really crappy photos, even in good lighting. The high end androids are probably as good as an iPhone, but I don't know any specific models, guess the Samsung S-series or Google Nexus would be worth a try – peteagain Jul 18 '17 at 20:27
  • @peteagain You can ask to have your accounts merged, so you can edit your answer if you'd like, with details like you included in your comment. I may or may not upvote your answer, but I certainly would undo a downvote for an opinion-based answer that is supported with rationale. =) – scottbb Jul 19 '17 at 0:34

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