We're all taking photos these days. If you're on the internet, 9,999 times out of 10,000 you're taking photos. And if you're queer and young, a large contingent of us are taking sexy photos. Whether for Instagram, Grindr, any other app, or just for the group chat, taking those photos is just a part of life these days. But how do you improve them?
Well we asked some of our favorite thirst traps and sexy selfie takers on Instagram for upping our game. The talked about the importance of lighting, cropping, and how to get the most out of what you've got.
If you’re planning on taking a good photo, sexy or not, you’re going to need to get the lighting right. And while you certainly can go with natural lighting, positioning yourself by a window to get the full effect, it’s not necessary. “You don’t need natural light necessarily, it can be a lamp,” filmmaker, photographer, and selfie-specialist Sam Morris tells Out. “Although general overhead or wall lighting is never good. You just need to get a good source of direct light really.”
So you’ve decided on the light you’ve decided to use, but it’s also about positioning. "Make sure you look for the light from the angle you intend the phone to be looking at it from,” Morris continues. “Just because the light looks good on your body when you’re looking down on it, doesn’t mean it looks good on camera from a different angle. Use the selfie camera to work out the best lighting angle.”
“If you want direct sunlight that’s best for selfies because it hides your blemishes easily,” Romer Sledge tells Out. But be mindful of how the shadows fall. “If you’re taking a shirtless or nude selfie best its best to take it when the light hits you on your side because it casts a shadow on your body and accentuates your muscles more.”
“A successful nude portrait [doesn’t] rely on the physical beauty of the subject, because then the image falls flat, emotionless, and tells us nothing except that the model is attractive,” photographer Benjamin Fredrickson tells Out. And though his nudes (of himself and others) appear in galleries, you can still learn a few tips from him. “Imagine that you’re making the portrait with the person clothed first. Is it interesting? Don’t rely on the nudity alone. Dig deeper.”
“Baby oil,” Fredrickson advises. “It’s the perfect solution to make skin shiny in photographs. This effect will create a sheen on the skin which helps to sculpt the body through highlight and tone.” So basically it’s the opposite of shadows; anyone who is a fan of makeup will be familiar with the technique.
If you aren’t game to try baby oil, Sledge says to take advantage of some good old-fashioned natural sweat which can give you a similar glisten.
Just because it’s a nude or a thirst trap doesn’t mean you have to show it all. Man around Instagram, Kevin Carnell, advises to “accentuate the curves,” in the front and the back. Give your recipient just a sneak peak. Sledge also advises cropping in smart ways to show “just the right amount of skin or pubes.”
If this isn’t a quick swap of photos to check on the vitals, think about “edging your recipient,” as Carnell calls it. “The more the convo progresses the more revealing you can become,” he explains. This again, builds on the idea of smart cropping, and maybe even using a well placed shadow or two.
Queer people exchange a lot of photos, and we see a lot of photos. Between Instagram, magazines and all the apps, it can become a blur. So work to not get in the rut of pumping out the same content. "People take stock nudes and don’t personalize it for themselves," Carnell explains. “Be creative, and show off what makes you sexy, not what you think the other person might want to see.”