Things that I consider when taking outfit pictures in a mirror with my phone! If you’re trying to document your outfits but feel awkward AF doing it, hopefully some of these tips will help. I finally feel alright doing an article on this since I’ve got decent lighting at the new apartment 🙃
- CLEAN YOUR MIRROR – Seriously, just do it. You don’t have to clean it every day, just dust it once a week and windex it if you’ve sneezed on it.
- CLEAN YOUR PHONE – in the same vein, don’t forget to check that your camera lense isn’t greasy or dusty.
- Lighting – Diffuse sunlight is ideal because it has a natural color and won’t cast harsh shadows. If you’re using artificial lighting, do your best effort to make sure the lights have a similar color (warm or cool toned). It will be harder to color correct it during editing if half the photo has a blue tint and half has a slight yellow tint. Avoid backlighting if possible because it makes it harder to see your outfit.
- Editing – if you’re stuck with a less than ideal lighting situation and need to heavily edit the photos to get things even remotely visible and the colors closer to real life, it can be helpful to reference a back wall or a piece of furniture in the background and aim to make the color and brightness of those consistent between different days’ photos, so you don’t end up making things significantly more cool or warm toned between pictures if you want your outfit references to stay more consistent.
I look stiff
If you’re just documenting your outfits for your own reference, IMO there’s nothing wrong with doing your basic-ass neutral pose with your feet under your hips and directly facing the mirror. Can you see the outfit clearly? Great!
But if you do want a slightly more insta-friendly or less static pose, try and shift your weight a little to one side to create a slightly angle. You can also place one foot slightly in front of the other to further create “movement” and slightly angle your head in either direction.
If you’re trying to stand up straight but your shoulders always feel unnaturally crunched up or back, remember that perky posture comes from having an engaged core and not from engaged shoulders. One trick you can try is reaching your arms up like you’re trying to touch the ceiling, then relax just your shoulders and neck while keeping your torso engaged.
Think stretch not scrunch:
My proportions seem off
The way you hold the camera will affect your proportions because of foreshortening. If you have the lens angled downward, it will compress the bottom half of the photo. If you hold the phone lower and angle it more straight or slightly upward, then the squashing will happen towards the top of the image.
If you’re having a hard time getting your whole outfit into the frame, try stepping further back from the mirror. You can decide if you want to sacrifice some detail for adjusting the proportions. If there’s no space, you’ll just have to pick between cropping out part of your legs or going with a more foreshortened perspective.
You don’t have to present yourself as having the longest legs possible, but this effect is good to be aware of because it can make it harder to compare two different outfits if you’ve held the camera very differently and you can’t directly compare proportions.
Like pretty much everything else here, this also all applies when taking normal photos instead of mirror photos.
In this photo I have not moved my foot placement between photos, just adjusted how I’m holding the phone.
On another note, pay attention to whether the phone is tilting horizontally. You can always adjust this in cropping if you’ve left enough space around yourself in the frame, but it’s easier in the long run to get in the habit of holding the phone at a consistent angle.
What do I do with my face?
Are you just taking photos for your own reference for outfits? Don’t worry about it! RBF away. Or you can even cover your face with the phone to show more of your outfit. This is what I usually end up doing nowadays cause I’d rather see the neckline than my face. I know what my face looks like!
I tend to go for a more neutral to slightly pleasant expression, and I’ve found it helpful on days where I’m not feeling relaxed but don’t want to look pissy in the photo to shake out my head, puff out my cheeks, or blow some raspberries and just be a little silly before taking the picture. Shake it out, physically relax your face muscles.
I’m not expert on “smizing” but I find it easiest to think of a funny or happy moment and just really try to inhabit those thoughts if I’m trying do do more of an actively happy expression vs just saying cheese.
If you’d like your eyes to look more open/awake, you may end up with a surprised expression if you pull your forehead up too much. I have my bangs held back here so you can see my eyebrows, but see the difference between the rightmost photo where I’m contracting my forehead vs the center photo where I’ve tried to relax my forehead and only look up at the mirror with my eyes/eyelids. Personally I’ve just stopped caring about how much of my eyeballs show up and usually just look at the phone. IMO people can tell when you’re looking down compared to when your eyes are actively scrunched closed so it’s chill.
I look awkward when I’m trying to show off the sleeve shape or create a more visible silhouette
Sometimes if you want to show off a cool sleeve or silhouette, you’ll need to hold your arms out from your body. I think it’s easiest when you just embrace that you’re contorting yourself and do a more exuberant pose with your arms fully up and out or placing your hand on your hip.
But if you want a more low-key vibe and just have a little negative space between your arm and body, pay attention to the line/angle formed by your arm and hand. If you’re super relaxed and your hand does the limp fish thing it can emphasize that you’re holding your arms away artificially. If you angle your wrist so that your hand is straight out or slightly up from your arm, IMO it continues the upward feeling more naturally.
There’s so much to include! I have a hard time arranging everything.
Yeah, it’s a lot to remember! Face expression, head angle, shoulder angle, core engaged, which way are your feet pointing, did you put your arm too far backwards and it looks like you’re scratching your butt….
I find that if you have the general pose you want to do in mind, then it can be easier to get a more natural look if you walk into the pose instead of arrange yourself into it from a standing position.
Posing from standing:
Posing from walking:
If you’re not trying to take a video of yourself doing the whole thing, you can walk from further out or even turn around before settling into your final pose.
If you’re taking side angle photos, consider what part of the outfit you want to document. If sleeve length/drape is more important then you probably want the arm closer to the mirror down, but if you want to show off the bottom half then switch it up and use that arm to hold the phone and get it out of the way.
If you find you’re still looking a little stiff, you can try shaking everything out between photos to reset your muscles. It can show if you’re getting frustrated at taking the photo, so doing what you can to make it a fun experience will help. Put on some music and bop along to it while you’re taking pics, or pretend that you’re a celeb or model at a photoshoot!
Let me know in the comments below whether this article was helpful or interesting, or if you have your own tricks for bringing out your best for outfit photos 😊
What I’m Wearing
Bodysuit: Samantha Pleet
Black jeans: Madewell Perfect Vintage Jean in sumner wash, in curvy cut 29 regular (tragically discontinued, as far as I can tell)
Shoes: Trotters “Lizzie” Derby Flats (affiliate link) in 7.5 wide (these run narrow)
Blue jeans: Target Women’s High-rise Vintage Straight Crop Jeans (affiliate link) in 12 short medium denim blue
Sneakers: Chuck Taylor 70s high tops in parchment (affiliate link) 7.5M
The mirror is the KARMSUND floor mirror from IKEA