How to take a good photo in every kind of light

Yes, it's possible to take the perfect selfie no matter what...

how to take the perfect selfie
(Image credit: REX/Shutterstock)

Yes, it's possible to take the perfect selfie no matter what...

Even if you don't like taking selfies, chances are you're going to have to at some point in life. And your lighting can make or break a really great photo. In fact, the word photography is derived from Greek roots, with “photos” meaning “light” and “graphe” meaning “drawing.” So essentially, without lighting, there is no photography. The thing is, there's an array of different lighting and each one has the ability to change the complete outcome of a photo. Whether it's the time of day, or the environment you're in, lighting can change dramatically. But, with a few tips and tricks, you'll be able take the perfect selfie in any scenario.

The golden hour

The golden hour is perhaps one of the most forgiving types of light during the day. It occurs around half an hour after the sun rises and around half an hour before it sets. The result is a warm light that isn't just flattering, but shows the object your photographing (i.e you) without any harsh shadows (the most common cause of an unflattering photo).

Bright direct light

Photographers will always tell you that bright direct light isn't great, because it has the ability to wash everything out. It can cause problems with over-exposure and can cast harsh, unflattering shadows on your subject. But if you find yourself in a situation where direct light is unavoidable, tilt your chin downwards.

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Dusk and dawn

About half an hour before the sun rises and half an hour before the sun sets, the sky is bathed in blue light. And although its' not the best light for a selfie, you can still use it to your advantage. Find the brightest area (so, avoid trees and tall buildings) and turn your face towards the light, where the sun is about to rise or has just set. This is the best light if you're wanting exaggerated shadows.


Sure, cloudy days have their challenges, but there's a reason why this type of light is called 'natures softbox'. Because this is such a soft light, you don't end up with harsh shadows, so you get even light all over your face.

3 rules on how to take the perfect selfie

  1. Don't take a photo underneath a light. This casts shadows on the lower part of your face and illuminates the top of your forehead. Always try to take a photo with front facing light.
  2. Use natural light when you can. If you're inside, try standing near a window, but don't go directly up to it because this will most likely make you squint. Instead, stand a few feet back.
  3. Hold your camera slightly above the level of your face. This will catch the most flattering light every time.
Natalie Lukaitis