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I Took 10 Selfies Under Different Light Sources For Science

Style + light = selfie game strong. Now your style can be powered by light with Citizen Watches with Eco-Drive.

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Selfies are now the norm.

Confession: I have zero selfie game. Despite my repeated attempts to capture the perfect “Look how much fun I’m having in this bar bathroom!” shot, most end up looking like the camera snuck up on me in a dark alley.

And so I decided to investigate what separates my disastrous attempts at self-photography from the legions of celebrities, public figures, and teenagers that are so good at it.

And it turns out I had one fundamental problem: lighting.

Apparently, it’s important. But is there such a thing as perfect selfie lighting? I set out to test as many different light sources as possible.

Overall: This is surprisingly flattering. The cooler tone balanced out my skin's natural redness, and my under-eye circles are practically invisible.

Pros: Gives me a “I woke up like this” glow.

Cons: Anyone with less red undertones might look like an alien.

Difficulty: 0 / 5

Overall: Yuck. I tried this after a photographer friend swore by it for pre-going-out selfies. I would describe my result as “friendly zombie.”

Pros: Would be an excellent way to get people to ask you if you’re sick.

Cons: Hard to execute. I had to basically stick half my body in the fridge for it to work.

Difficulty level: 4 / 5

Overall: Most selfie scholars recommend a sunny backlight as the best selfie lighting, and that’s because it works, and it's amazing.

Pros: I look ethereal, like I have a billion tiny angels holding candles under my skin.

Cons: There is nothing to dislike here. Just do this.

Difficulty: 0 / 5

Overall: This was suggested multiple times during my research for this experiment. While it maybe helped, I was so focused on holding the paper in the right spot that I look slightly distracted in every pic I took.

Pros: It ever so slightly filled in my face shadows.

Cons: There is no way to do this without having both arms outstretched, as if you're about to hug the camera.

Difficulty: 4 / 5

Overall: I basically had to put my face on the laptop screen to get any light from it, and the coordination required to take the photo and not destroy my computer didn’t make the results worth it.

Pros: None.

Cons: There is also no way to take a photo this way without having part of the computer in it.

Difficulty: 5 / 5

Overall: Maybe I don’t understand the selfie-light case, but for a $50 investment, I expected more. I took multiple photos under different lighting conditions, and this was the best I could do. A solid meh.

Pros: Super portable.

Cons: The model I got kept turning on in my bag and draining the battery.

Difficulty: 1 / 5 (once you buy it)

Overall: The bathroom light at our office is pretty bad. Like, “Omg how did I age 25 years overnight?” bad. As much as I moved the camera around, there was no position that made the shadows on my face any less “ghoulish.”

Pros: Allows me to see inside my pores.

Cons: Pretty much magnified every single imperfection I have.

Difficulty: 1 / 5


Overall: It took a lot of positioning to get this one right. Straight on ended up being the money shot.

Pros: Easy to find — pretty much every creepy stairwell has one of these.

Cons: Every other angle made me look like a serial killer.

Difficulty: 1 / 5


Overall: For some reason, our office has one lone sconce hanging in one of the hallways. The overall effect is pretty orange but not bad.

Pros: Since there’s only one position I could do, I found the right angle pretty fast.

Cons: Great for me, but anyone else would have to come to my office to take this picture.

Difficulty: 1 / 5

Overall: Since this is in the middle of our office hallway, I had a bunch of co-workers side-eying me while I took this photo. I’d mutter, “It’s for a post,” and they’d ignore me.

Pros: I love this picture. You can't go wrong with red lighting, and exit signs are perfect. A great, creepy, red vibe.

Cons: Just be careful you’re not physically blocking an exit for the sake of taking a selfie.

Difficulty: 1 / 5

What I learned:

It turns out that the best selfie light is whatever makes you feel the most confident. Loving how that porch light is highlighting your cheekbones? Take that selfie. The world is your photo studio. And when in doubt? You can't go wrong with backlit by sunlight.

Behold the power of light. Another amazing thing light can do for your style? Power your watch. Citizen Watches with Eco-Drive can be powered under any light source.


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