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.
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
- 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
- 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.
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).
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
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".