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Tips for Taking a Quality Photo of Your Body

Taking a photo of your body before you start any new nutritional program is helpful for two important reasons:

  1. It helps you estimate your body fat percentage
  2. It gives you a "before" photo that can serve as great motivation for sticking with the program.

Whether you take the photo yourself or ask someone to shoot it for you, these tips will help you create a picture that will be an important piece of your journey to better health.

Select appropriate clothing

For men, you want to be shirtless with loose but not baggy shorts. For women, a bikini or your bra and underwear are best. Remember, the more skin you reveal, the more accurate a reflection you'll create. For both sexes, avoid wearing anything spandex as it will compress your tissues to the point that it's not a true representation of your size. Your goal is to capture how you truly look.

Composing your shot

For the purposes we're after, you want to be sure to include your hips, torso, arms and head, as these are the parts of your body that will show the greatest evolution as your body fat percentage changes. Including your entire body will also likely require the camera to be too far away to reveal much detail.

Photographs are more visually pleasing when the subject isn't smack dab in the middle of the frame. Place your body slightly off-center-imagine there is a tic-tac-toe grid over the camera frame and aim to have your belly button in one of the outer rows rather than in the center square.

Avoid bad selfies

As anyone who has used social media knows, some selfies are better than others - it's not as simple as flipping the camera around, pointing and shooting, particularly when you are aiming to take a photo of your body.

If you are taking the photo of yourself, your arm likely isn't long enough to allow you to get your hips, torso and head in. One way to get an OK shot of yourself is to stand in front of a mirror and take a picture of your reflection. (If you use a mirror, make sure your flash is turned off as it will ruin the shot.) A better option for taking your own photo is to use a selfie stick or a tripod and a self-timer.

Get a close crop

You want your body to fill at least half of the frame - the further away the camera is, the harder it will be to see details in the final shot.

Be light-minded

Good lighting is one secret of a high-quality picture. Whether you use natural light-such as sunlight coming through a window or artificial light such as a lamp make sure your light source isn't coming from behind you, as it will cause your body to be in shadow. If you are using lamps, make sure there is a light shining on both sides of your body so they are both illuminated. If you're outside on a bright day and the sun is casting stark shadows, use the flash on your camera to even out the exposure.

Keep the background clean

Having a lot of things in the background of your picture is visually distracting. It doesn't mean you need to stand in front of a blank wall necessarily, you could stand in front of a large bush or your front door. The more homogenous your background is, the more the image you're focusing on-in this case, your body will pop. Be sure that your body and your background are different colors so that you are more visible.

Keep the camera at eye level

Shooting from an angle that's lower than your face can create a double chin where there isn't one, while aiming the camera down from above can make you appear slimmer than you are. In this case, you are going for an accurate representation of reality, so keep the camera lens on the same plane as your face.

Take multiple shots

It's very rare that you get a good photograph on the first try. Take multiple shots in quick succession, then review those to see if you need to adjust the lighting, the background, the distance or the angle. Having a photo of yourself that you are comfortable with will encourage you to look at it more and share it with others - two great ways to remind yourself of your goals and give you some accountability for moving toward them.