With everyone using social networking websites like Facebook and Myspace, being able to produce a decent profile picture is becoming more of a standard expectation for computer users. You don't need expensive digital cameras to take a picture of yourself with your computer. You can take a snapshot of yourself for free if you have Internet access and a webcam.
Skype is a free software program that allows you to make phone calls through the computer. It also lets you text chat and place video calls. Since Skype is designed for use with webcams, it has the capacity to take snapshots both of you and of the person to whom you are talking in a video call. Plug your webcam into your computer and make sure it is on, open Skype, click on the "Skype" menu, select "Change your picture," and then click "Take Video Snapshot." After that, you can decide whether you want to keep the picture or trash it. Use this option if you want a picture that people can see in Skype almost immediately and don't want to bother with downloading or uploading anything.
Cameroid is a free picture utility available from cameroid.com. Unlike Skype, you don't have to have any software installed on your computer aside from your Internet browser. This is a good option if you would like to snap a picture at your work desk, since many corporations have restrictions on what programs you can download and install on company computers. Just make sure your webcam is connected and on, and if prompted, click on "Allow" to grant the website permission to access your camera. Then just click on one of the two camera icons in the toolbar on the right hand side.
Lighting and angle are probably the two biggest factors in taking a good picture with your computer and a webcam. Try to make sure that you have a source of light that is indirect (i.e., diffused)--you can use a lampshade to diffuse the light, or you can pull an old photographer's trick and drape a sheet in front of the lamp. Shooting up toward the face instead of straight on can help hide a little extra weight in your chin. Rather than trying to hide curves completely, turn to accentuate other areas--for example, if you don't want to show your stomach, turn slightly to the side with your hip forward. No matter what angle you have, make sure the clothing you choose is appropriate. You can wear something a little sexy if you want to do so, but avoid anything extremely low cut or short shorts and skirts. Remember--you're selling a taste of yourself, not the entire bakery.