I recently did a low-budget photo shoot for a party (we're talking blank wall in my apartment with the bf shooting on his phone), and the bf was kind of shocked at the amount of effort I put into setting up the lighting. That is, until he saw the result. Note: most of that effort was finding places to plug the lighting in; it was a very simple lighting scheme.
So I decided to make a guide for lighting and applying filters to selfies on mobile phones. It really doesn't take a lot to see a noticeable improvement. The right lighting with a crappy camera can definitely compete with shit lighting on a good camera... at least on your phone's screen.
First off, I suggest downloading a photo app with a timer, so that you have more flexibility with placement and posing (there will be a follow-up post on posing as soon as I get that figured out for myself). Also, a "burst mode" setting (that takes multiple shots with one tap) is helpful. You'll need this type of app to fine-tune the adjustments I talk about in this post (contrast, brightness, etc... I like CameraPlus, personally). But if all else fails, use a mirror or get a friend to take the shots for you. However you do it, be sure to inspect your shots as you go so you can make adjustments. Nothing's worse in a photo shoot than realizing something simple ruined your last 10 minutes of work.
In this first shot, I had very low lighting from the front and used the built-in flash on my iPhone 4S.
For the shot below, I upped the contrast just a bit and added a pre-set filter. The contrast will bring out the lines of the muscle definition, but if you're dark-skinned, you'll have to brighten your photo a bit. But too much brightness will make your photo grainy. Taking some of the saturation out of the photo will also improve definition to a point.
|as a rule, if you're using the iphone's flash, upping the contrast will make a marked improvement in your low-lit photos and helps cancel out glare from smoke machines in clubs!|
You can see a slight improvement in the definition of my chest and abs. And the filter helps smooth out the roughness of the low-quality photo. But if possible, you want to use more light than this.
In the photo below, I added some downward lighting; however, I'm standing in front of the lighting. You can see an instant improvement in the quality of the photo with the added light. If you're going for muscle definition, however, you want to be behind your downward light so that your muscles create a shadow, which is mostly what definition is. On the other hand, if you want to slim down a belly, hiding that shadow is key!
A bit of contrast and brightness along with a pre-set filter, and you instantly see more detail everywhere, including my face. This one even adds a bit of shape to my thighs with a slight highlight.
I'm a bit of an over-the-top person, so here's a version I might do. This is also an example of how proper cropping can make a huge difference (but really, you should just clear out the space you're using to photograph).
For this next photo, which my bf took with his iPhone 5, I used a very bright upward light (a desk lamp with a bendy neck). Clearly, this is the best so far in detail and definition. Most guys go for downward lighting when they want to emphasize muscle definition, so upward lighting can be a bold variant to help you stand out.
Being the ridiculous queen that I am, I played with filters, brightness, contrast, hues, and, tints temperature to create this.
But if you're using a photo for a dating website, guys will clock extremely stylized photos and wonder how far you've taking the manipulation (i.e., did he photoshop those abs in?!). Therefor, I'd suggest a more subtle variation for use on apps like Grindr and Scruff or websites like Manhunt or A4A.
|even this one is probably a bit much, so I would be sure to send it along with some less filtered shots.|
For the following photo, I had lighting from above, below and in front (to my right, to get technical). Not the best results of the bunch for muscle definition, but it shows my face more clearly than the others.
|this is how i look in my head.|
And here is the finished product.
|here's the invite for tomorrow's party... yes, you're invited!|
It went from "Let's laugh at my making duck lips into my phone for a selfie!" to "Look at me giving serious duck face. You like that don't ya!" I'm a ridiculous queen, but not that ridiculous. But I had to laugh when I got this.
Anyway, you use all of these to your advantage in your own selfies, AND you can come to the underwear party at the Ritz (bar & lounge, not the hotel!) and see them in action at the low-budget photoshoot we'll have set up! Come to the 3rd floor tomorrow (Saturday), strip down (clothes check available), have a couple of drinks ($6 Stoli special in your underwear), and pose for a new profile photo!
Click here to check out an underwear party from 2011 that was SO much fun!