Smartphone photography: 10 tips for getting that perfect profile pic

Tech columnist Jamey Ordolis has advice on how to keep up with the top Instagrammers and Facebook selfie stars

CBC tech columnist offers tips and suggests the latest gadgets and apps for taking better online pictures

Keep composition, framing and lighting in mind when taking that selfie, says tech columnist Jamey Ordolis. (Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive)

Want to get that perfect picture to share on social media?

CBC tech columnist Jamey Ordolis stopped by North by Northwest to provide some tips for getting great shots with a smartphone.

1. Use the rule of thirds

"You don't necessarily want to put something smack dab in the middle, you want to put the person off to the side a bit to make it more interesting."

(Annabeth Robinson, flickr cc)

2. Get close

"One thing that people shouldn't do is use the zoom on their phone, or on a digital camera. There's no physical lens that is really moving in to magnify the subject [so] you're basically just cropping the photo before you take it which hurts the resolution.

"So you want to move your body physically closer, move your hands closer, move the phone or the camera itself closer to the subject as much as possible. You want to see your subject nice and close up."

3. Don't use the flash (if you can help it)

"Don't use flash unless absolutely necessary. That's how you end up with those photos where all your friends have raccoon eyes.

"Use the light of the environment.... Check if there's a lamp or brighter part of the place that you're in, to go to."

4. Be aware of the background

"Think about finding a wall that is beyond a white shadowy wall. Is there a brick wall around? Do you have a piece of art you can stand in front of? Is there a wall that has nice wallpaper? Anything with texture or colour to stand in front of.

"Look at Beyoncé's Instagram, even if you're not a fan ... she has great examples of how her team — no matter where they are, even if they're in the basement of the Met — will find a cool concrete wall, or maybe like a hedge bright green to put her in front of."

5. Create your own background

"You can do your own DIY photo wall. I've done them before by simply buying a piece of fabric, like a leopard print.

"[Try taking] a few metres of fabric and draping it over a doorway, or I've done it over a bookshelf to create a little photo opportunity, and you can do that with streamers, and you can find a bunch of examples on Pinterest."

6. Smile, and show teeth

"PhotoFeeler conducted a study on what makes a profile pic get more likes. Smiling does better, and smiling with teeth does even better. Accentuate your jawline, don't pull away from the camera."

7. Eliminate dead space

"Remember to fill up the frame nice and close, and don't leave a lot of dead space around your subject — miles above their head and miles below their feet.

"If you're sharing food and decor pics ... get in really close with your camera. Let the food fill the frame, maybe even chop off some of it so you're really close and you see the details of cool objects."

8. Experiment with angles

"Change up your angles. Shoot someone from above or the side. It's a very flattering angle from above."

9. Get gadgets

Instead of a selfie stick: "You can get a mini tripod for your smartphone, something like the Joby GorillaPods. It's a little stand that can be used as a basic tripod but it also has bendy legs so if you're in the forest for example and you want to wrap it around a tree branch you can wrap it around something instead of just standing it up to take photos of yourself."

"You can add a light source to your smart phone like the Manfrotto photo clip mini LED and that's better than the phone's flash. Then there are add-on lenses, Olloclip makes one that's a four-in-one lens."

10.  Edit photos before posting

"There's an app called Facecam that actually works in a natural way to brighten your skin tone, blur out your imperfections, and you can make your face thinner or bigger.

"I like Photo Collage, it's a fun app for stitching photos together. A Beautiful Mess ... allows you to add texts and colours and doodles, and Photo Candy is also really fun for cool shapes and colour overlays."

"My only caution is don't over edit. For the most part what people really like is to see are natural looking photos."

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: CBC tech columnist offers tips and suggests the latest gadgets and apps for taking better online pictures


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