Taking thirst trap pics is an art. It's like staging a photo shoot at home—and you're the model, photographer, and creative director. I've worked in photoshoots for most of my career but snapping that "perfect* sexy shot of myself has always been a challenge.
To help all of us in this needed skill during the age of Instagram, I decided to create a Clubhouse audio chat room with my friends from the BCU about Thirst Trap Photography 101 just for fun. I swear, my LGBTQ+ friends have got all the tricks down pat. Our resident expert? Jan Villanueva. He works in the creative industry and has an impressive IG feed to boot. These are the tips he shared, and I'm telling you—they're life-changing.
What's a thirst trap photo in the first place?
We first defined what a thirst trap photo is during the beginning of our ~workshop~. A thirst trap photo really good picture of yourself that displays your *best assets*. Jan said you don't need to show a lot of skin for it to be called a thirst trap—just looking cute and charming is enough!
Jan also emphasized that all body types can take great thirst trap pics. Richard Kenneth Rivera, also one of the founding members of BCU, agreed, "you don't need abs or have a flat stomach. Lahat tayo, kaya natin mag-maganda!"
How To Take A *Really* Good Thirst Trap Photo
Timing is key.
Jan said he wakes up early in the morning so he could get the best lighting. "When you shoot your photo from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m,, you'll get bright natural lighting. The sunlight from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. can be too harsh, and it may wash you out.
Your photo would look warmer when you take it at 4 p.m. towards sunset, aka the golden hour," he explained. "This is why beach photos in the afternoon are always a winner!" Jan exclaimed.
Pay attention to the position of the lighting.
"Overhead lighting is worst," Jan declared. This lighting angle casts unflattering shadows on the face that may make your skin appear saggy and your complexion dull-looking. He recommends posing the light source by the side to create shadows that will properly contour the body.Continue reading below ↓
Soft lighting is best.
Jan shared that he invested in sheer white curtains that diffuse the sunlight which creates a soft glow on the skin.
It's all about intention.
Where are you going to post it? The quality of your photo should match where it will be seen. Jan advised that if it's on the feed (aka it's forever there until you archive it), you may need a good camera or a phone cam with an impressive resolution.Continue reading below ↓
For IG Stories, he said that a phone camera would be enough. You just need to take note of tips numbers 1 to 3 about lighting.
"It's really all about intention," Richard said. He suggested to ask yourself these questions: What kind of vibe are you going for: Sizzling hot? Low-key sexy? Cute and approachable?
Know your angles.
Jan emphasized the importance of knowing the best flattering angles. He said, "The closer the phone is to the face the heavier or wider you will look. Keep a good distance from the camera." He also explained that mirror selfies are actually the easiest and flattering pose!Continue reading below ↓
"Angle the body away from the light source for more depth and contouring," he advised. "Avoid facing straight to the light source. Doing so makes the body look flat—the curves won't get emphasized," he added. (LOOK: 10 Low-Key Sexy Poses To Try, As Seen On Lovi Poe)
Makeup helps—including body makeup.
I personally agree with this. The sexy sheen on the skin registers well on the camera. Apply body oil, lotion, or highlighter on these hot spots: Cheekbones, tip nose bridge, collarbones, shoulders, and legs. Jan prefers a lightweight body oil to give a subtle glow to his body.Continue reading below ↓
I chimed in during this part of the talk and suggested my top makeup picks. Skin texture is normal so don't worry about it showing in the photo. Work with lightweight makeup products so the face won't have a cakey finish.
Your thirst trap makeup starter pack:
1. Tinted moisturizer - For skin but better finish
2. Concealer - To hide some blemishes
3. Cheek tint or cream blush - For a natural-looking flush
4. Cream or liquid highlighter - Get that glow, girl!
5. Eyebrow pencil + brow gel - To create soft, fluffy brows
6. Hydrating lipstick, lip gloss, or lip balm - Juicy pouts are sexy
7. Body oil, lotion, or highlighter - Soft, supple skin will make you look more photogenic
Here are our suggested makeup products that can help you score a fresh and glowing makeup look
Beauty steals: Affordable makeup productsContinue reading below ↓
Pretty investments: Makeup products that are a bit on the pricey side but are totally worth the money.
Pick the right outfit
High waist pants support the belly and puson, and bodysuits are sexy without showing too much skin. Pair a white button-down with a cute bikini bottom or match a swimsuit top with jeans. A thirst trap doesn't necessarily mean you're almost naked!Continue reading below ↓
Work on your facial expressions.
If you've aced the poses, your facial expression should look great, too. You may try a sexy gaze or flirt with the camera. You don't need to smize always—just go with whatever vibe you're going for. Thirst traps aren't always seductive; they can be low-key and cute, too! (CHEAT SHEET: How To Smile Naturally)
Your mindset matters.
Your thoughts create emotions and what you're feeling shows on your face and pose. Girl, get that confidence level up 'cos you're about to take the hottest pic of your life!
Keep it balanced.
Jan advised that you have the option Instagram grid balanced—"try to inject filler photos so your followers won't get tired of your thirst traps." But he also reminded us of this important statement: "Your account, your rules!"Continue reading below ↓
Use photo editing apps.
Jan prefers using Lightroom to edit his pics—to fix the lighting and improve the quality of the photo. There are other apps you could try like VCSO, Dazz, and Prequel. You may also give this viral iPhone photo app editing hack a try.
Captions are everything.
A well-written caption will support your post and even trigger engagement with your followers. (We've got some options for you here!) But if all else fails, use emojis!
Follow Ira on Instagram.