When you take a picture of yourself, you probably tend to focus mainly on the subject—you! It is a selfie, after all. Even so, other elements of your shot can make a big difference to the look and feel. From lighting and shade to angles to filters, there are plenty of variables you can manipulate to make the subject stand out.
One of the most impactful of these variables is the background. Typically, selfie-takers only consider the background when they’re watching out for passers-by or photobombers. But the right background can set the tone, create contrast and make certain elements of your own appearance stand out. Here are a few tips for setting up the best selfie backgrounds.
The Rule of Thirds
It may not seem intuitive if you’re new to photography, but you generally don’t want to place your subject right in the middle of a shot—even a selfie! Photographers often follow the “rule of thirds,” which says that a one-third / two-thirds division is more eye-catching than a centered focus. For a selfie, this usually means positioning your face in the top-right or bottom-right corner.
Simple or Show-Off?
Before picking a specific background, think about what you want to do with your selfie. Should your face steal the show, or do you actually want to draw attention to other people in the shot? Do you want to show off cool scenery on a vacation or business trip? The response you’re after should dictate what kind of background you pick. Generally, a simpler backdrop will keep the attention on you, while a flashy one is great for showing off your current setting.
Watch Out for Light Sources
Before you snap, consider where the sun, street lights, window lights and other light sources are located—particularly if you’re using a flash. If you don’t, what you see on the screen after the shot may be quite a bit different from what you saw before! Likewise, if you’re in a dark area with a few lights right behind you, you may need to turn off auto-flash.
A Few New Ideas
Still stumped on finding the perfect background? Here are a few specific spots you might want to try for your next selfie.
-Nature. Almost any nature scene will create a pleasing, yet not too distracting background for a selfie. Mountains, plains or forests will work—anything city dwellers don’t see on a daily basis.
-Murals. Murals, colourfully painted walls and even graffiti are great for creating a high-energy feel. With the right filter—usually black and white or sepia—you can achieve a moody, mellow feel with the same background.
-Flooring. Can’t find the perfect wall? Think outside the box and lie down! Marble, tile and wood flooring may all prove to be better backdrops than the walls in your house or apartment.
-Water: Going for a more calming effect? Or do you just want to show off a new swimsuit? Either way, water scenes are a top choice for selfies! A fancy pool or great beach view is also a great way to show off your vacation spot.
Sometimes, your current surroundings just don’t lend themselves to a great selfie. Still, you don’t have to miss an opportunity for a great shot! There are plenty of digital backgrounds available, and most modern phones have facial recognition software that can crop you out and put you into a new setting.