Lighting. Angles. Poses. You’ll be a selfie master in almost no time at all.
Taking great selfies looks so simple. Of course, that just makes it more frustrating when you can’t get it right.
It’s a position we’ve all been in before. You confidently whip out your camera, crack a great big smile, take the snap, and then sit there wondering if you might be the least photogenic person on the planet. The more you take, the worse they get, and you’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re doing wrong.
Don’t panic, you’re certainly not alone, so we’ve put together a complete guide on how to take good selfies. From great selfie poses to using fun filters, these expert tips will help all iPhone and Android users seriously up their selfie game. Let’s dive in.
1. Start things off with great lighting
It’s the first rule of photography: lighting is everything. Before you do anything, you’ll need to find a spot where the light gets the most out of your features, but this sadly isn’t as simple as it sounds. Too much light could have you squinting and covered in shadow, while not enough light could make everything bleak and blurry. Yikes.
Use natural light
Ideally, you should steer clear of computer screens, bright bulbs or any other kinds of harsh lighting. Big windows and the great outdoors are your best friends here, because natural sunlight usually results in far more flattering selfies.
You can even go to the next level by taking snaps when the light’s at its very best. Photography experts agree you’ll get the best selfie lighting when the sun’s at its lowest - around an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.
Face the light
You’re the star of the show here, so facing the source of the light makes sure you’re the most visible part of your selfie. Once you’re in position, we recommend tilting or moving the camera around until the light sits around eye-level, which will help avoid any off-putting shadows.
Avoid ugly shadows
On that note, shadows have the power to completely make or break your selfie. At the right time of day, shadows can be used to highlight and accentuate your features, but get it wrong and you could end up with ugly dark circles under your eyes.
To play it safer and avoid shadows altogether, we again recommend you face directly towards the source of light. This is the easiest way to get bright, clear lighting, and nobody wants a great big shadow obscuring their face. Shudder.
2. Set the mood with the perfect pose
Make no mistake, the mood of your selfie completely depends on the pose you’re striking. You might be feeling happy, serious, thoughtful or just plain silly, it all comes across in your pose, which perhaps makes this the most important part of your selfie.
There are literally endless possibilities, but here are a few popular selfie poses to help get you started:
The classic selfie - camera held directly in front of your face
Crack a natural, genuine smile
Leaning against a wall or window
Cheeky over-the-shoulder snaps
A serious pouty expression
Slightly open your mouth and exhale
Hand playing with your hair
Staring thoughtfully off into the distance (away from the camera)
Push your face forward for a longer-looking neck
The ol’ squinty eyes, tilted head, sticking your tongue out look
Confident full-length mirror selfies
Cuddle an adorable pet (because everyone loves cats and dogs!)
Laughing with friends and family
3. Capture a great angle
Hey, we’ve all got our good side. Angles are everything when it comes to taking selfies: get it wrong and you’ll have a nightmare, get it right and you’re well on your way to a real selfie masterpiece.
Look up at the camera
Chin down, camera up. That’s probably the first rule of taking a great selfie on your phone. It doesn’t matter if you’re Kim Kardashian herself, holding the camera low, pointing up at your chin is always the most unflattering selfie angle. Seriously, you may never want to take a photo ever again.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding the camera so that the bottom of your phone is level with your eyes. This is high enough to avoid any double chin syndrome, and will also get the most out of your fluttering baby blues.
Turn to the side
Staring directly into the camera probably isn’t the best look for you. You might seem a little crazy to passers-by, but you’ll need to spend plenty of time tilting your phone and turning your head to really capture your good side.
Seriously, just turning slightly to the side can make all the difference here, but you’ll need to play around to find how to highlight your best features. Once you’ve found that killer angle for your selfie, it makes the sore arm and neck totally worth it.
Try a selfie stick
What makes selfies so tricky is the fact that the camera is literally held at arms-length. This kind of extreme close-up can make you feel like the least photogenic person in the world, but a handy selfie stick could be just what you need to find that perfect angle.
You might think they look a little silly in public, but this is a great way for you to extend the height or length of your selfie. Suddenly, the camera’s not right up in your face, and now you feel like you could give Beyonce a run for her money.
4. Make use of your phone’s camera features
Technology is definitely on your side here. Your phone lets you take a selfie whenever and wherever you like, making it easier than ever to capture those special moments. However, you still need to make the most of your phone’s camera…
Use the camera on the back of your phone
Your front-facing camera might seem ready-made for selfies, but it’s actually better to take selfies with your rear-facing camera instead. Why? Because the camera on the back of your phone is usually much more powerful, giving you a higher-quality selfie that looks way more professional.
Go on, try taking the same selfie with both your phone’s cameras and see for yourself. Goodbye forever, low resolution!
Don’t forget your flash
To flash or not to flash? That is the question. You won’t always have access to that perfect natural light we spoke about earlier, and sometimes you might want to take a selfie in the dark. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and this is where your camera’s flash becomes your best friend.
The trouble with the flash is that it can turn your eyes red and wash out your skin, essentially giving you a Halloween costume you definitely didn’t ask for. Don’t panic, just keep playing around with your angles until you get it right.
Try iPhone’s Portrait Mode
iPhone users definitely need to play around with the excellent Portrait Mode, which was first introduced way back in 2016. This blurs the background of your selfie and puts you front and centre, which is exactly how a selfie should be.
Oh, and the best part? You can access Portrait Mode on both your front and rear-facing camera, giving your selfie a professional feel with almost zero effort from you. That’s what we like to hear.
5. Pay attention to your background
It’s called a “selfie” for a reason, so the main feature of the photo is always going to be you. The background is still vitally important, though, and this is something so many selfie novices get wrong at some point.
Location, Location, Location
Interesting locations can create interesting selfies, but it’s not all about exotic holidays and scorching sun. Great selfie locations can be found around the house, office and just about anywhere else - it’s just a case of wandering around to find that perfect spot.
Clear away any distractions
We’ve all been there. You’ve got the perfect shot lined up. The lighting is spot on, your pose is golden, and then you get photobombed by a random stranger walking by. Sigh.
The best selfie backgrounds are clear, simple and free of any distractions. This could be a beautiful blue sky, a plain office wall or something equally as straightforward. Your background should either be super interesting or super simple, the backgrounds in between are where things get a little messy… and cluttered.
Choose a flattering colour
You can’t always control your selfie background, but we recommend going for light, bright and neutral backdrops wherever possible. This will help to brighten your features and makes sure your face really stands out, which is exactly what you want from a selfie, after all.
6. Try editing your selfies
You’ve nailed the lighting, struck a killer pose and your background looks absolutely stunning. Now it’s time to polish it all off with some stylish finishing touches, and there’s all kinds of phone features, apps and software out there to help you. Phew!
Get creative with filters
Filters are the easiest way for you to edit your selfie. Whether you’re editing through an app or just your phone, pre-made filters can add a touch of lovable character to your photo. You might want to play around with colours or transform yourself into a cat, the right filter can turn an ordinary selfie into bags of fun.
Touch things up with subtle edits
From cropping to airbrushing, there’s nothing wrong with finishing your selfie with some small tweaks. You might want to remove skin blemishes, make your teeth whiter, or clear something you missed in the background, there’s tons of editing apps to help you create that perfect selfie
Don’t overdo it
Nobody wants a selfie that looks completely unnatural. Don’t go nuts trying to make yourself look like a Disney character, stick to subtle touch-ups that make your features glow, but keep you being you. That’s always the most important thing.
7. Keep practising your selfies
They say practice makes perfect, and that’s certainly the case with selfies. This is the only way you’ll ever turn into a true selfie master…
Take more selfies… and then some more!
Keep getting your camera out, flashing your smile and playing around with angles, and you’ll soon be capturing that perfect pose, angle and lighting every single time. Hey, you’ll feel like a photogenic rockstar quicker than you can say “cheese!”.
Get inspired by others
Your social media feeds are a great place to find some selfie inspiration. A casual scroll through Instagram will show you tons of selfies from celebrities, influencers and friends, so you could quickly come away bursting with ideas and itching to get your camera out again.
Those truly SPECTACULAR selfies shouldn’t be trapped on your phone forever. Visit your local Snappy Snaps store to turn them into framed prints, canvases and so much more!