Selfies. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re a primary medium of communication in the digital age. And although the buzzword is emblematic of the 21st century – thanks to the advent of the front-facing camera on mobile devices – selfies are far from an entirely new thing. People have been taking photographs of themselves for as long as cameras have existed. These days, the widespread power of social media just makes it much easier to share them. Some say they encourage a narcissistic, self-regarding attitude; others have argued that sharing selfies can be a great thing. Some feminists, for example, have argued that by sharing selfies, it allows people to feel good about themselves while also showing the world that beauty comes in many different shapes, sizes, and packages. They even have a hashtag for their selfies (#feministselfie).
In fact, there are hashtags for just about every sort of selfie. Some people have built social media empires via their selfies, garnering thousands of followers thanks to capturing their gravity-defying butts, cute outfits or stunning muscular physiques on camera.
We’re not all quite so serious about our selfies, but now and then most of us are likely to capture ourselves having fun, on our phones. In that case, how do you go about taking the best looking selfie possible? Are there secrets to making sure you look your best while still looking like you? If you’re asking yourself this question, look no further. We have some tips that will help you do just that.
6. Crop in tight
Unless the background is necessary for your photo, cutting out the distracting and busy background can only make a selfie better. One problem you often see in selfies is the arm holding the camera. Cropping in close to your face will solve this problem as well, because really, who wants to see your arm in the way of your face? So get in close by cutting out everything but your pretty face, and put the focus where you really want it to be.
Of course, this accentuates features on your face that are closer to the lens, which can be both good and bad. After all, no one wants to accentuate their nose and make it look bigger while minimizing their eyes. In that case, you need to look to the next tip to help prevent that from happening…
5. Zoom in
Have you ever taken a photo of yourself only to realize that your nose looks huge, and your face looks odd? You might tell yourself that perhaps the mirror has been lying to you, and that this is how you truly look. But wait just a second. Your distorted features could very well be a product of how you’re holding the camera. Chances are, if you’re taking a selfie, you’re holding the camera (or phone) about arm’s length away. After all, that’s how most of us take selfies, right? We hold the camera out, smile and snap the photo. But doing it that way can make your face sometimes seem misshapen. Most notably, you can expect to see a larger nose and disappearing ears.
The way to fix this? Well, it probably won’t help you much for a quick self-portrait, but the way to look your best in a photo is to move the camera further away and then zoom in so the subject is nice and large. This brings everything closer together and counterintuitively it makes everything, including your nose, neater and proportionate.
4. The “Rule of Thirds”
Think back to your last selfie – were you the center of attention, right smack dab in the middle of the picture? Probably so; after all, that seems to be the most natural way to take a self portrait. But try something the next time you take a photo. Aim for your face to be off-center. In fact, aim for your face to be in the top of the frame and off to the side a bit.
The “Rule of Thirds” is a common photography principle where the image is divided into nine equal parts by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines to make a grid. The most important elements are along the intersections to make the photo more interesting and to draw the eye to specific focal points. In this case, your face is what you’re trying to draw attention to, so play around with the grid lines. Some cameras automatically come with these lines in place so you can get an idea of where to align everything. But even if they don’t, you can always move around and try different angles until you find something that works. After all, you don’t have to worry about wasting a photo – you can take as many as you’d like until you get it right.
3. Light Up
Poor lighting can make or break your selfie. Too dim and we can’t see your pretty face. Too bright and you’re going to look like a ghost. Most photographers know that the best time to take outdoor pictures is either one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. Something else to keep in mind is that when it’s overcast, you’re less likely to struggle with lighting for outdoor snaps. So when you see those clouds roll in, perhaps you should take your camera outside and play around a bit.
However, if you’re stuck indoors, you can still find great light sources – it just might take some searching. Start off posing near natural lighting, if possible. A nice, large window is perfect as long as the sun isn’t too bright. If you’re in front of window, remember the tips mentioned above about ideal times, because they apply inside too.
Make sure the light is at your front or to the side. If you’re standing with a bright light directly behind you, it will either make your face dark or disappear entirely.
2. Extend that neck!
This might sound a little strange, but bear with us for a second. If you struggle with the appearance of a double chin in photos (even if you don’t have one in real life) and don’t know why, this is the answer. And even if you’re not plagued with a double chin, extending your neck forward will help accentuate your jaw line. Yes, it feels unnatural, but try it and you’ll see how it can dramatically improve the shape of your face. This trick works best when shooting from above, so raise that camera just a little above your head and look up to further lengthen your neck and accentuate that jaw line.
1. Kooky Angles
The best thing about modern cameras is that you can try a million different things and delete the photos that simply don’t work for you. So use this to your advantage. Play around, take photos of yourself in silly poses and place yourself at unexpected angles in the photo. We each have one side of the face we prefer more than the other, so find your best side and raise your neck, extend your chin, turn slightly from the camera and push the shoulders forward and back. There are no limits to the angles you can try out. Some will look better than others, but eventually you’ll find something that you’re happy with.
And don’t worry about looking silly. No one has to see these photos unless you share them. So maybe pull your face in super closer with an interesting background behind you. Or take a photo of just your toes in the sand (yes, it’s still a selfie) – play with taking artistic shots without your face and see what that looks like.