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Easy selfie effects that will make you look naturally beautiful

The best ways to use natural lighting in selfies

Everyone has someone in their family who is a faux photographer who has gone out and spent a little bit of their savings to grab the latest and greatest in photography equipment. Well folks, that’s me!

So much so that my friends have officially dubbed me the “Instagram selfie queen.” I have been in love with photographs since… forever! I can remember sitting for hours looking at old black and white photos of my family trying to guess the moments that happened before. Photographs are our sneak peek into the past. It’s how we keep our family memories alive.

The funny part about my love for pictures is that, while I’ve collected a few lighting equipment essentials, some of my best photographs have come from natural lighting. There are so many ways to creatively use natural light to add power and drama to your images. Whether you’ve just purchased your first DSLR or you’re making magic happen with your iPhone, here are a few tips that will help you create incredible photos no matter what type of natural light you have access to.

Seek open shade for a softer light

Direct sunlight is great for lots of things, just not pictures of your family. If you’re admiring the perfect imbalance of the buildings in your city, sunlight is perfect. Capturing your loved ones? Not so much.

For the perfect natural light seek out a spot that is open shade. This will allow enough light for your picture but won’t appear as blown out as direct sunlight.

The best ways to use natural lighting in selfies
Image: Ty Alexander/SheKnows

Pray for the overcast

A true photographer is delighted to see the makings of a rainy day. Overcast is nature's diffuser. It allows sunlight to be spread evenly across your family so that everyone shines! While your photos will be softer, they can come out a little flat. But that’s nothing a mobile app can’t fix. My favorites: VSCO, Snapped, Aviary, Enlight and Photo Grid.

The best ways to use natural lighting in selfies
Image: Ty Alexander/SheKnows

The lights in the back

Shooting with backlight can be so much fun as a lighting effect. The way the light graces through the photos, I’ve always imagined this is where the angels in your family show up in photographs. The key here is to focus on the subject’s eyes and align the lighting so it can be partially or fully hidden from your camera (but not your subject.) If you’re having trouble, use your hands just above the lens to block the sun a bit. Also here’s where your gorgeous hair gets a chance to shine. The sunlight can’t do all the work though. Here’s my rule of thumb: if your hair smells fresh, it will look fresh. Try to shampoo and deep condition your hair with Garnier Whole Blends at least once a week to ensure your hair will look naturally beautiful in your photos.

The best ways to use natural lighting in selfies
Image: Ty Alexander/SheKnows

Shoot during the magic hours

I’ve learned that these are my most favorite times to shoot. The most dramatic and beautiful lighting will happen during the first and last hour of sunlight each day. It’s an amazing sight to see because the shadows last a little longer since the sun sits low in the sky. But that hour can go by quickly and you can miss your golden opportunity. Make sure you’ve planned out your shot or be OK with what being spontaneous will garner.

The best ways to use natural lighting in selfies
Image: Ty Alexander/SheKnows

Be candidly honest

And when all else fails just be free and let loose with the people you love. Some of my favorite pictures are ones that are so imperfect they're perfect.As my son gets older (he’ll be 21 this year *gasp) I’m not his focus anymore. He likes girls now, ugh! So I make sure I create as many fun and silly memories with him as often as I can. One day I’ll be too old to remember I was that fun mom everyone wish they had. But I will have the photos to prove it.

The best ways to use natural lighting in selfies
Image: Ty Alexander/SheKnows

This post is part of a sponsored collaboration between Garnier Whole Blends and SheKnows

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