Selfies are pretty simple. However, like all things that are simple there’s often more to them than meets the eye. When you think about getting that really great shot you will be more likely to succeed if you’ve planned it a little first, and follow one or two simple guidelines. As you do this more regularly it will become second nature.
Throughout this process you’ve been hearing me suggest you want to keep it simple. Well, we have one main rule – the rule of thirds. The idea is simple enough. Imagine a ‘#’ or a grid you’d use in tic tac toe. Where the lines intersect is where you want to put your main point of focus. This works well whether you shoot horizontal (landscape) or vertical (upright). The second rule is equally easy. Always have a main point of focus, and no more than two other details that draw the eye away.
As a side note, these days many people shoot with the idea of a square image, as Instagram has popularised this format. It’s extraordinary that it’s become so popular when you consider that newspapers and magazines have tried to make it popular for the last hundred years, without success. Layout artists have always liked the idea of a square format, but up till now it’s never really caught on. So, now we have Instagram. Well, the rule of thirds works equally well in a rectangle or a square. So, try keeping it in mind as you set up that perfect shot.
With these two guidelines you are set. Yes, it’s really that simple. In a close up the eyes and mouth present three focal points. In a head and shoulders image, the face, and often the shoulders form the three points. And in a full length image you may be looking for the primary focus to be yourself, and the secondary two points being two ornamental accessories. Monica uses this to great effect in her images.
Sebastian, my personal trainer, tells me he listens to the space between the notes in music. This is, I suspect, because he is a pretentious idiot at times. However, the idea of leaving space in your image does give it a pleasant effect and can be extremely effective. Equally, if you are looking for an extremely busy looking active image then crowding it can achieve that effect. You may want to try experimenting with these two options and see which works best for you.
You can do a few practice shots without make up or costume to get a general idea of how the image will look in the frame. Then go and get into something you’d like to wear and take some time. Put on a little makeup – don’t over do it. Enjoy a glass of wine. And finally, sit down and do a few more practice shots using the set up that gives you the best results. Be sure to look out for keeping the horizon lines straight and not to much tilt – unless this is specifically an effect you’re looking for. Try not to leave too much space above the head, or below the feet. Nicely centred images always look great.
Now, you probably think you’re done. You’re not.
Once you’ve got the best shot identified, try it again. And again.
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