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Whether you"re killing time during a layover or excited for an upcoming getaway, snapping selfies at the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is a great way to capture airport adventures. One of the most crucial elements for photogenic shots is lighting. The right lighting can turn an average selfie into a showstopper.
Look for large windows and skylights when seeking out optimal photo spots at PHL. Natural lighting often delivers stunning effects, especially during the "golden hours" of sunrise and sunset when the sun is low in the sky. Early morning and late afternoon bathe everything in a warm, diffused glow that is infinitely more flattering than overhead noontime sun. Head to Terminal F around 7am to get perfect natural lighting streaming in through the huge windows overlooking the tarmac. Capture a glamorous sunrise selfie before your flight takes off.
For midday selfies, focus on indoor locations with ample ambient light. Seek out open, bright spaces like Yolo"s seating area in Terminal D with its distinctive cathedral windows and skylights. Adjust your position relative to light sources to avoid shadows on your face. If you"re taking a selfie with friends, make sure everyone is evenly lit.
Some of the best opportunities for dramatic lighting are near or after sunset. As the sun goes down, Terminal F becomes flooded in the rich warm hues of late daylight. Pose against the illuminated wall of windows with the tarmac below to mimic influencer-style travel shots. For moody backlit images, face the windows so the fading sunlight illuminates you from behind.
At night, make use of artificial light sources. Neon signs, lamp posts, and other lighting installations throughout the airport create visual interest after dark. Try taking selfies near the colorfulkauffee sign in Terminal A/B or beside the illuminated pillars in Terminal D/E. Adjust camera settings as needed to properly expose your images when shooting at night.
In addition to great lighting, PHL offers many opportunities to strike a pose with eye-catching works of public art. Sculptures and murals throughout the airport provide colorful backdrops that can elevate your social media shots. Play around with poses and perspectives to make these larger-than-life installations an integral part of your selfies.
One of the most iconic photo ops at PHL is the 25-foot tall LOVE sculpture in Terminal A-West. Inspired by Robert Indiana's famous LOVE design, this bright red piece features the word LOVE with a tilted letter "O". Pose in front of, underneath, or even on top of the letters. Prop your legs up on the side of the "V" or lie across the horizontal stem of "L" for fun effects. "I laid across the LOVE sculpture and had my friend take a photo from above. The pic came out so cool with the red LOVE letters stacked below me," recalls Ella Myers, an art student.
Murals are another excellent option for stylized selfies. Terminal B has an expansive food court mural called "A Field Guide to the Philadelphia Airport" featuring illustrations of regional flora and fauna. Pose like you're hanging from a tree branch, smelling the flowers, or peering through a leafy jungle. In Terminal F, the colorful "Philly Grids" mural by Joshua Sarantitis packs the walls with geometrical shapes straight out of an 80s music video. Strike angular poses among the cubes and lines for artsy attitude.
The airport also houses sculptures inspired by the aviation industry. In Terminal D, four stainless steel forms called "Propellers" curve upward with intricately sculpted blades. Mimic the flow and movement of the propellers or frame them creatively in your self-portraits. "I got someone to take pics of me looking like I was pushing the propellers to try something different," saysConnor Green, afrequent flyer. Nearby, the sculpture "Stargazer" features a figure tilted backwards gazing at the sky, mimicking the view from an airplane window. Pose as if you're daydreaming on a flight to parts unknown.
Embrace your playful side by popping energetic jumps, dance moves, and silly faces against these backdrops. Combining public art with a bit of personality shows followers your irreverent airport spirit while still capturing share-worthy shots. "I love goofing off and doing jumps in front of the awesome art installations they have at PHL," remarks travel blogger Sofia Chen. "It puts some humor into my feed between all the pretty posed pics."
While PHL has plenty of photogenic spots, you don"t have to limit yourself to designated art installations and lounge areas. With some creativity, even mundane airport spaces can provide the backdrop for eye-catching selfies. Experiment with composition, perspective, and scale to transform ordinary surroundings into something special.
Look for repetitive patterns and symmetry that can give visual impact when captured from an unconventional angle. The long stretches of windows lining many of the concourses create striking reflections when shot from a low perspective. Lie on the floor to catch the mirrored image of your pose with the tarmac behind you. "I angled my phone up from the floor to get those cool, kaleidoscopic effects in the window reflections," explains photographer Sam Miller.
You can also leverage repetition by posing within a long row of chairs or in the middle of an empty moving walkway. Position yourself centrally and use leading lines to draw the eye. Shoot from above, below, or the end of the row to highlight depth and dimension. "I stood at the end of an empty hallway of gates and had my friend shoot me centered between the lines of chairs receding into the background," says fashion student Cara Lopez. "It made a super artsy shot with the symmetry and perspective."
Scale differences also present creative possibilities. Find a corner where two walls meet and pose as if they"re closing in around you, dwarfed by the cavernous space. Stand at the base of large support columns, tiny in contrast, and shoot upward for a vertiginous point of view. Place a hand against the floor-to-ceiling windows as if holding up the entire imposing facade.
You can even leverage mundane functional elements like bathroom sinks, water fountains, and elevator interiors. Shoot your reflection in bathroom mirrors or pose as if flying inside an elevator. Creative framing makes the mundane feel novel and exciting. "I pressed the camera against the glass walls inside the elevator to capture a cool zoomed-in shot of my eye," says photographer Nina Ashton.
Don"t forget about departures boards. Frame yourself peering at the list of flights or pose as if walking into an unknown destination. Shoot from behind the board to silhouette yourself in shadow. There are also colorful metal coils displaying flight numbers. Photograph yourself peeking out playfully from within the coils for a whimsical effect.
Adding movement and action to your airport selfies is a great way to capture lively, animated shots. Airport terminals may not seem like the most exciting backdrops at first glance, but you can infuse your images with energy by incorporating active poses and motion blur effects. Walking briskly, jumping in the air, dancing, and other actions shots are perfect for spicing up your Philly airport pics.
For travelers just passing through PHL, incorporating movement into selfies is a fun way to explore the airport while waiting. "I had a long layover so I spent an hour just wandering Terminal F, jogging up and down the concourses and doing jump shots in front of the cool murals," says college student Jamie Smith. "It killed time and I got some really fun in-motion selfies for the Gram."
Walk purposefully towards the camera for fashion-style strutting shots. Hold your phone away from your body and snap mid-walk to capture natural hair and clothing flow. "I love doing power walk shots at airports," says model Lexie Howard. "Let your hair blow back for that runway breeze effect." For more relaxed movement, stroll casually along a moving walkway with your suitcase in tow.
Jumping selfies showcase your athleticism while adding height and elevation. Find open areas and leap energetically into frame, shooting at the peak of your jump. "I always try to jump as high as I can and snap the pic at the top before I start coming back down," shares extreme sports enthusiast Tyler Knox. "It makes me look like I'm flying." For added excitement, jump on or over rows of chairs and barriers.
Dancing brings out your playful personality while creating a sense of motion. Groove to your playlist and capture mid-move dance shots. "I just put on my favorite pump-up playlist and start dancing and voguing in front of cool airport wall murals or neon signs," says dancer Ariana Lopez. "Those in-motion dance pics project so much fun energy." Feel free to freestyle, do the Running Man, hit some dabs, or bust out any move that embodies your unique flair.
You can also choreograph mini dance routines or moves with airport furniture. Chicago-based TikTok creator Darren Chin films 15-second dance videos across PHL. "I'll jump up on a row of chairs, use a moving walkway handrail as a dance barre, or incorporate those interactive sculpture props in my routines," he explains. "Airports make unexpectedly awesome dance studios."
Don't be afraid of blur effects that come from active shots. A bit of motion blur adds dynamism, while a slow shutter can create light and color trails. "I use Rear Flash mode on my phone which keeps me sharp while blurring the background," advises photographer Priya Lal. "It looks like I'm moving super fast through the airport." You can also have someone follow you with the camera to capture running or cartwheeling shots.
PHL offers several upscale lounges where you can channel your inner influencer among modern furnishings and amenities. These lavish spaces let you capture envy-inducing shots that give followers a peek into the glamorous airport lounge life.
Centurion Lounge in Terminal F boasts sleek midcentury modern decor, expansive tarmac views, and a complimentary full bar and dining menu. Pose sinking into the comfy statement chairs or sipping a glass of wine by the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the runway. "The Centurion Lounge is my favorite spot for fake airline spam," says lifestyle blogger Chloe Sanders. "I'll shoot mirror selfies checking my flawless reflection or stare pensively out the window like I'm headed to Paris."
The British Airways First Lounge oozes refined elegance with its fireplace, paneled walls, and tufted leather chairs. Lounge on a chesterfield sofa and pretend to read a newspaper or bookmark a novel. Pop by the complimentary wine bar and snap a Boomerang video of yourself sampling vintages. "I love acting ultra posh and sophisticated in the British Airways lounge," remarks content creator Noah Evans. "The upscale old world vibes make a perfect backdrop for some pretend first class glam."
For a trendy atmosphere, visit the American Express Centurion Studio in Terminal B. This sleek space features an urban industrial look with exposed ductwork, pendant lighting, and an inviting central bar. Sip a craft cocktail and capture artsy over-the-shoulder shots. "The moody vibes and cool mixology at the Centurion Studio made me feel like an influencer at the coolest lounge in town," says photographer Leila James.
At the Club PHL in Terminal F, snap pics enjoying complimentary gourmet bites from renowned local chefs in swanky leather banquettes. "I shot an aesthetic flat lay of all the artisanal food at Club PHL to show followers how celebs dine at airports," notes still life photographer Carla Chen. For more lavish shots, head to the wine locker room to pose browsing rare vintages.
The Turkish Airlines Lounge channels exotic luxury with ornate tiled floors, jewel-toned rugs, and elaborate neon signage. Drape yourself across plush velvet sofas or snap selfies under elaborate chandeliers. "I love playing dress-up and doing shoots in the Turkish Airlines Lounge because it transports me to Istanbul," says style blogger Alicia Torres. "The dramatic lighting and textures are perfect for looking glam and worldly."
Remember, the key is to have fun and get creative with lounge amenities. Pose playing chess or reading financial newspapers at Centurion. Style flat lays of lounge food and drink. Shoot mirror selfies from lavish restrooms. Snap candid images socializing with fellow travelers.
"I see airport lounges as my chance to roleplay elegant jetsetter," explains actress and comedian Jordan Park. "I'll recite fake monologues, dramatically weep over a lost love, or announce my arrival to adoring fans. It helps pass time and gets funny reactions from people."
While posed selfies in photogenic spots are fun, some of the most memorable airport moments happen spontaneously with loved ones. Capturing candid interactions, unplanned antics, and real emotions creates images that authentically showcase the bonds you share.
Rather than forcing stiff poses, let your personalities shine through in the moment. When you"re laughing together, engaged in lighthearted shenanigans, or simply talking, have someone snap a few candids. These real, unfiltered shots reflect the genuine joy of spending time together before or after a trip.
"I"m always goofing off and joking around with my sister at the airport, especially if we"re giddy about an upcoming vacation," says college student Maya Thomas. "My favorite photos of us are the ones where we"re doubled over cracking up about some inside joke, not worrying about how we look."
Don"t be afraid of imperfection or silly faces. Embrace authentic interactions even if you don"t look runway-ready. "Some of my favorite airport pics with friends are ones where we"re talking and I"m mid-sentence with my mouth hanging open or my eyes are half-closed," shares lifestyle blogger Kim Nguyen. "They really capture the spirit of just having fun and being yourselves."
"I"ll secretly snap candids of my friends focused on checking their phones or staring blankly into the distance," reveals photographer Claire Davis. "Later, I"ll text the funniest bored airport ones to them as a surprise. It always cracks everyone up."
"My family does this thing where we all lay down on the floor together when flights get delayed late into the night," explains middle school teacher Neha Kapoor. "I cherish the photos my husband takes of us just laying there tired and delirious"it"s such an authentic family travel moment."
"My favorite airport shots are the ones snapped mid-embrace right before my best friends and I all split off to our gates," describes college freshman Laila Khan. "Our faces are pressed together in a group hug, and you can feel the love and sadness of saying goodbye. It fully captures the emotion of that moment."
After capturing selfies during your airport adventures, editing and enhancing your photos can transform them from impromptu snaps into lasting keepsakes. With all the colorful backdrops and creative opportunities PHL provides, your images likely already pop off the screen. But taking the time to curate and refine select shots helps commemorate special moments with friends or family, vacation send-offs, and solo explorations.
The airport's vibrant art, lounge glam, and playful perspectives set the stage for next-level images worth preserving. As photographer Leah Chen describes, "I'll snap a ton of pics with my girls at the airport in the moment, but later, I'll go back and edit a few favorites. Adding filters, adjusting lighting, even photoshopping in custom backgrounds turns our memories into art."
Even basic edits like cropping, color correction, and brightness/contrast tweaks can make a major difference. Fashion student Cara Lopez explains her process: "I use apps to sharpen detail, deepen shadows, and make colors more vibrant. It really makes my lounge shots, action jumps, and moving walkway adventures pop." Small personalized touches also create lasting mementos. Illustrator Vivian Davis overlays hand-lettered quotes on her PHL images: "I'll add fun mantras like 'Adventure Awaits' or 'Wanderlusting' in my own handwriting. It gives our pre-vacation pics that perfect sentimental touch."
For dazzling nighttime cityscape shots through PHL's huge windows, longer exposures produce striking light trails while smoothing imperfections. Landscape photographer Sam Miller notes, "I use editing apps to lower shadows and boost clarity on my night selfies with the tarmac and Philly skyline behind me. The long exposure effect makes the colors mesmerizing."
Some travelers take editing further with photo manipulations andcollages. College student Jordan Lee combines his lounge glam selfies with stock images of private jets. "I photoshop myself coming down airstairs onto the runway for that total globetrotter vibe." Meanwhile, part-timespokesmodel Nina Ashton layers her PHL shots into magazine cover mockups. As Nina describes, "I'll make fake Vogue covers with my candid terminal pics and add headlines like 'Airport Couture'."
Memorable moments with loved ones also merit thoughtful enhancements. Before her bachelorette trip, bride-to-be Lauren Chang created a photowall with her bridal party: "We took individual shots posing with props like champagne and 'Bride Tribe' sashes, then I edited them together with our names into a cute departures collage." For longtime couple Dan Thomas and CarlaJoseph, editing adds touching symbolism. Describes Carla: "We enhance our romantic airport reunions by inserting heart graphics or texts like 'Love Takes Flight'. It commemorates each joyful homecoming."
While having fun snapping selfies and creating social content at the airport, it"s crucial not to lose sight of safety. Airports can be hectic environments, so remaining vigilant about your surroundings avoids preventable accidents and incidents.
First and foremost, be aware of your physical location. Don"t step backward into traffic while trying to frame the perfect shot. Pay attention to your footing so you don"t trip over luggage on the floor. "I got so distracted trying to capture this cool jump shot that I totally ate it backwards off a curb," admits daredevil vincer Zayn Pope. "Luckily it was just scrapes and bruises, but it could have been worse. Now I always scope out landing zones before leaping."
Also be conscious of other travelers moving through the airport. Don"t impede foot traffic by blocking walkways or lying on the floor for extended periods. If filming TikTok dances, pause anytime crowds need to pass. "I try to only do my in-terminal choreography during off-peak times so I"m not aggravating rushed passengers," explains dancer Darren Chin.
When shooting near airport furniture, ensure stabilize surfaces before jumping on them. Don"t use items in ways that could dislodge or damage them. "I broke a chair by trying to stand on the seat for a pic," confesses Instagrammer Leo Chen. "I got too carried away without thinking about safety or property. It was a rude wake-up call to be more aware."
Near conveying systems like escalators or moving walkways, keep a reasonable distance to avoid falls. Be careful not to get straps or shoelaces caught. "My headphone cord got snagged by the walkway once and yanked my phone across the airport," recalls frequent traveler Connor Green. "Luckily no one got hurt, but I learned to give those things a wide berth."
When taking pictures in lounges, offices, or restaurants, be respectful of other patrons if shooting candid moments. Don"t disrupt business meetings or dinners. "I try to read the vibe before doing anything too wacky in lounges," explains comedian Jordan Park. "Fun is great, but not at the expense of someone"s peace or privacy."
If stopping for selfies in restrooms, keep pathways clear and move aside if others need to pass. When using reflective surfaces like mirrors or windows for creative shots, choose sections with enough space to maneuver safely. "I"ll only lie on a bathroom floor for overhead mirror shots if it"s completely empty," says photographer Priya Lal. "Otherwise I"ll opt for stalls or less crowded restrooms."
When shooting at night, remain aware of low visibility for you and others. Don"t back up into dark corners or trip over unseen obstacles. "I bring a phone light if trying to get nocturnal travel shots," advises photographer Leila James. "You don"t want to collide with anything lurking in the shadows."