How to take better Profile Pictures and Self-Portraits

Okay, we have all seen those Facebook and MySpace self-portraits that are taken with one hand out or in a bathroom mirror or that just look plain bad. Well, in five steps I will show you how to take your photos from blah to badass, well maybe not badass but, certainly not bad. Let’s start at the top:

1. Be Creative. Let people see you. We have all seen these
photos where someone is trying to hide something about how thy look in real life. Don’t do it. Most likely your viewers you don’t look like that. Try taking a photo looking straight into the camera at eye level – full frontal as it were. Try a “profile” photo facing 90 degrees to the left or right of the camera at eye level. It’s okay to fill the frame too by all means mug it up for the camera, show us some personality! Just remember that these days –even with your profile set to private – this will be the photo everyone sees of you, so be choosy and make it a good one.

2. Choose your location. This sounds pretty simple right? Wrong! All too often people take a quick snap not realizing that they are sabotaging themselves inadvertently. See photobomb for examples of failed attempts. Take fice seconds to choose what will be in the background of your photo. Solid backgrounds or outdoor scenes are pretty easy to find. As a rule try to choose a background that is not too busy with color and distractions. You want the viewer to see you, not the copy of twilight on your nightstand.

3. Use a self-timer. Or, have a friend push the shutter button for you. The arms up looking down on yourself and the reflection in the bathroom window have been done over and over and at this point they just look tacky. Most cameras have a 10 to 30 second self-timer these days so set up the camera to do the work for you. If you are all alone and you are using a camera without a timer like, say a smart phone, make sure to keep those elbows out and the lens at eye level. Believe me that alone can make a big difference, you don’t want your photo to look like your cruising Craigslist casual encounters for a date at the truck stop. Seriously.

4. Edit your shots. These days there is no excuse for posting a shot full of red-eyes and
awkward colors with all the free resources available online. Services like Picnik and Photoshop Online and bighugelabs are totally free to use and easily correct problems and give you neat tools to enhance your photos before you post them to your social networking site. Besides these sites there are a whole range of free apps for smart phones that will edit your photos and post them to your site all in one flow.

5. KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid! Don’t overdo it. Most places on the web show rather low resolution photos so tons of detail will often just look like pixel noise. Keep yourself – the subject- the focus of the photograph.

That is a quick and dirty primer. I hope this helps out a bit. I doubt I have written anything here that you didn’t already know but, sometimes it’s good to hear someone else say what you have been thinking. Stick to these five steps and I can assure you that your photos will turn out better every time. So, go forth! Unleash your inner artist and make some good stuff!

If you have questions, comments or suggestions post them below. Good Luck!

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