Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to Look Good in Photos -- Lighting Tricks

We like to think we've mastered posing for photos (chin down, shoulders back and these other tricks) so now it's on to more advance issues, including lighting. We've noticed that in some of our photos, like the one above, the lighting isn't flattering to our face. We asked National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson how to—in the words of Tyra Banks—find our light:

  • A soft light is better than a harsh light. Soft light means that you don’t have harsh shadows, which can make eye sockets look black (see above), makes wrinkles look wrinkle-y er, skin look sandpaper-y.
  • A second light source will help fill in the shadows. At the beach on a sunny day, for example, the bright light is above and reflecting off the sand, so it does this naturally. If you don’t have something filling in shadows—you can go look for something that will—stand next to a white building for example. Even holding up a piece of white paper to reflect a light onto your face will help. 
  • To take a good shot of people indoors, turn off overhead florescent lights if you can, because it does the same thing that sunshine does. Ideally shoot with natural light near a north-facing window or any window without direct sunshine falling in and have your subject look towards the window. 
  • At nighttime, if you have a flash that swivels, point it off a wall or the ceiling. By taking something that’s a small harsh light source and turning it into a big soft light source by bouncing if off of something, the lighting will be more flattering. Alternatively, try turning off the flash and dial up the background light.
  • If you have a point and shoot camera (like us), the best thing you can do is make sure your subjects are facing into flash, so nose isn’t casting a weird shadow or anything. 
Think you have what it takes to have your photos published alongside Jim's in National Geographic? Find out how to enter the Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest.

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