Social media is the best place to share all the cool stuff you’ve been up to with your friends. Run into an old friend or celebrity—share it! Have the best vacation—share it! Have a great night out with your besties—share it! Have a new boyfriend—definitely share it!
And the best way to share it is with a selfie—after all, a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? But how do you get a selfie you’re happy with if you’re the sort who’s more likely to run away when people take out their phone or camera? Here’s a few tips on how to take a selfie:
Check Out Your Appearance
Don’t assume your hair and makeup are right, take a quick check before the picture. You can either take a peek in a mirror or use your phone to make sure you’re not a mess (unless it’s a hot one—we’ll forgive you for that!)
One of the most important tricks professional photographers know is how to manage light. Poor lighting can make you look washed out, pale, sad, tired, or old, depending on how it’s wrong. The best thing about this is that it’s often easy to get better lighting by leaning forward or back, taking a few steps or changing your angle.
Check the Background
Another tip on taking a selfie, make sure you stand out against the background. You also want to make sure there’s nothing embarrassing behind you. Photo bombs can be pretty funny, but they can also ruin your picture—best not to be surprised.
We know you’re excited that you ran into Taylor Swift, but calm yourself down enough to hold your phone still for a moment. If you’ve got a tremble, maybe it’s best to let someone else take the picture. And make sure to stay still for the picture—don’t rush to get it over with or you might find the picture’s blurry—or maybe just your face.
Take a Moment
And while you’re pausing to take the picture, you’ll find that you can get a better smile if you take a pause to compose yourself before the picture. Close your eyes. Take a breath. Then open your eyes and smile. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference it makes in your expression.
Whenever you’re taking a selfie at a family gathering or night with your friends, make sure to get at least one that includes all your friends. Depending on how many of you there are, your arm might not be long enough—see below for the answer to this problem.
Don’t Be the Closest
If you are taking a group shot, try to make sure everyone is the same distance from the camera. If you are closest to the camera, perspective will distort your appearance and make you look like you have a bigger head.
Strike a Pose
Don’t just stand straight up and down for your selfie: find a great pose to add some zest to the picture. This can include a fun facial expression (WARNING: duck lips are officially passé), tilted head, angled shoulders, swiveled hips—anything that’s in the picture can be used to give it an interesting look. Just remember: tilting your head forward may not produce the most flattering photo.
Have Good Posture
Unless it’s part of your pose, don’t slouch. Stand up straight to give yourself the best appearance. This can make a big difference even if the picture is just of your face—the position of your neck and jaw are affected by the curvature of your spine.
Get a Little Closer
Most selfies are taken at arm’s length, which is good for capturing you and some of your background, but sometimes a selfie that’s just your face can be really effective. You can either zoom in, hold the camera closer, or, best of all, crop the picture after you take it.
Be Some Body
Not all selfies have to focus on your face. You can take some great shots involving other body parts. The classic feet on the beach is a favorite, but you can also spice up a picture of those Thai noodles you’re about to enjoy by including your chopstick-holding hand. Full body selfies are also great, especially if you want to show off your #OOTD (outfit of the day).
Don’t Use a Mirror
Speaking of your OOTD, it used to be normal for these pics to be done using your bathroom or full-length hall mirror, but these days people like selfies that are taken without the mirror. EXCEPTION: if you’ve got a cool phone case that you want to show off—such as when it totally matches your outfit, using the mirror is a great way to do that.
If you want to get the best selfie, you’ve got to find your best angle. Experiment with a few different angles to get the right one. Remember, your best angle can change with the lighting, so don’t just assume that it’s always the same one.
In addition to angles, experiment with different placements of you in the picture. Many people like to point to the rule of thirds, where you should be not in the center of the picture, but off to one side, with your eye level about a third of the way down the image. But you should take selfies with yourself in different parts of the picture to make sure you get the best composition.
Most Smartphones let you take your selfie with the screen facing you. Take advantage of this so you can to see what the picture is like before you snap it. True, sometimes you can’t see the screen really well, especially if you’re outside, but when you can, you can save yourself a lot of trouble.
Don’t Post Raw Footage
We’re not saying all the time, but sometimes you don’t want to show things the way they actually were. Instead of just posting the picture you took. Crop the picture, apply a filter, or use an app to edit the picture to look just the way you want.
Wearing the right accessories can give your selfies a lot more flavor. I mean, sometimes your accessories are naturally going to be in the picture, like those fab earrings you’re wearing on a hot date or that fun new monogrammed hat, but other times it’s something you’ve got to grab and hold, like sand toys at the beach. Accessories can totally change the mood of your selfie, too. Put on a silly hat to play up the laughs, or put on a pair of glasses to make yourself look serious (okay, that’s probably pretty funny, too—but you get the idea!)
Use a Selfie Stick
Your arm is only so long, and sometimes the best selfies need to be taken from a distance. A selfie stick allows you to hold your smartphone at a distance so you can get some of those hard-to-capture shots.
Remember: selfies should be fun. Most of the time, you should just take ’em and post ‘em quickly without worrying about it too much. If you’re having fun taking your selfies, that’ll show through. And if you’re working too hard to try to get your selfie right, that’ll show through, too.
There has been a little backlash against selfies lately because people have been taking and posting them inappropriately. If you want people to keep loving your selfies, there are a few rules of etiquette you should follow.
Where and when should you take selfies? Selfies are self-expression, so you should take them almost anywhere and anytime you feel like it, with a few exceptions, such as:
- In dangerous situations, such as behind the wheel of a car or with dangerous wild animals (like bison)
- At funerals, in hospitals, or sacred places
- Whenever someone is hurt or needs assistance
- In the aftermath of a tragedy
- Places where photos are banned
- When you and/or others are exposed
Also remember that you should get permission from people that you want to include in your selfie. Don’t assume Taylor Swift or that random guy on the street wants to be in your picture. Ask first. And when you’re doing a background check, make sure you’re not including anyone in your selfie that might not want to be.
Also remember that even your friends don’t want to be in every one of your selfies. Give them a chance to object before you snap, and if they ask you to delete the photo without posting it, honor that request.
Don’t take selfies where the act is disruptive, such as in class, in a business meeting, or during a conversation. Especially remember not to disrupt someone else’s special occasion, such as their wedding.
Sharing selfies has its own etiquette, too. First, limit the number of selfies you share. Hit the highlights, but save most of your pictures—selfie and otherwise—for a big gallery of vacation snaps. That way, you’re not clogging up your friends’ feed—or looking too vain—but people who want to can still see all your pictures.
Always consider the audience when you’re sharing. You might want to share those bikini pics with some of your close friends, but maybe not with your entire circle of friends. Remember, that for some people, even a bikini pic can be considered NSFW—and can get them in trouble.
If someone is offended by a selfie you share, don’t pretend that it’s just them being sensitive—your selfie may really be offensive. At a minimum, change your settings so that person won’t see this selfie or others like it—and consider deleting the selfie altogether.
Good Selfies Make a Difference
Selfies have become so popular because the presence of a camera on our smartphones has made it so easy to take pictures of ourselves and others. We can now take the picture and share it on a whim. It’s so easy and so popular that there’s been a backlash against selfies. But there was never a backlash against selfies—just against bad ones. Take good selfies and share your memories with your family and friends.