How to Take a Good Selfie: 10 Pro Tips for the Perfect Picture
While we might all take a lot of selfies, how do you take a really good one? We're talking about the ones that makes you look like you have perfect hair, skin, teeth, clothes, environment… You know, like you're having the time of your life with everything falling right into its place, and you just happened to grab a snapshot of that moment.
Okay, we're exaggerating—come on, Insta isn't the real world—but there are ways to ensure that you feel your happiest and most confident self with the pictures you decide to post (or accidentally send to everyone in your contacts list). Now, we don't advocate judging yourself by your social media likes (if you've seen that Black Mirror episode, you know that's the last thing anyone wants), but if you must take selfies—or don't know where to begin—we've got the how-to guide for you.
From knowing how to find your best side (yes, it's a thing, and yes, this editor does now know which is hers) to understanding which equipment and filters will make the most of your features, we've got some incredible tricks and ideas to help. If you think you need a gentle nudge in that right direction, keep scrolling for our guide on nine pro tips on how to take a selfie.
#1: Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment
While we're sure you're more than happy with your smartphone (hey, it takes good pictures and has your favourite Snapchat filter), remember it's not just phones you can use to take a shot of yourself. You might even want to invest in an actual camera (yes, they do still exist). We spoke to fashion editor and blogger Alex Stedman of The Frugality, who told us that the Olympus PEN E-PL7 is the best. "It shoots square, with great clear images and you can work the pics straight to your phone (even whilst on the tube!)," she shares. However, if you're keen to stick to just one item to save space in your bag, The Guardian recommends a few different smartphones that put the camera first.
Olympus PEN E-PL7 Compact System Camera (£379)
Another bonus about this camera is that it has a flip-down screen, which, Stedman points out, makes it easier to see the image as you're taking it. She also says that you shouldn't be afraid to use props: "Sometimes the seat you're sitting in can be just as interesting as our outfit," she advises.
#2: Find Your Best Side
No, we're not making it up—you really do have a "good side" to your face. Just look at Tom Ford, who always poses in the same position to ensure he gets the most out of a shot. (Don't believe us? Google it.) There are ways to find yours: One street style photographer revealed exactly how to do that: "It really comes down to knowing the angles of your own face and positioning the camera to accentuate those features," they shared.
For example, if you've got a big chin, you don't want to shoot from the side or below, Stedman says—you want to be going from above. However, maybe you've got a great pout, so if you shoot from a lower angle, it'll make your lips stand out more. And for that all-important way to make your face look slimmer? Our expert advises shooting from the side. Finally, if you have a big forehead, "avoid shooting from too high; shoot from an angle and a little above the eyeline and you can elongate your face." If you're still struggling, there's also the SymSide app.
#3: Shoot From the Right Angle
So you've got your best side, but what about the best angle? Speaking to Allure, makeup artist Nick Barose says that "for most people, the best angle for a selfie is one that's slightly higher than their line of vision. And you probably shouldn't stare directly into the camera, either." Noted.
#4: It's All About the Lighting
Sure, you might have a LuMee, but is that really the best lighting to get a gorgeous shot of yourself? Speaking to Allure, photographer and style blogger Candice Lake advised facing directly away or into the sun, as otherwise, you might end up with shadows that look like under-eye bags. "The golden hour to shoot a photo is during sunrise or sunset, when the light is low and the most beautiful," she told the magazine. Stedman reiterates this, as she prefers to shoot in natural light: "Lights add a yellow glow I don't like in my feed," she tells us. Early mornings (preferably not in the blue light) might just be a necessity from now on…
#5: Perfect Your Makeup
Look, we don't want to make you go full-on Narcissus, but if you're feeling and looking good, it sounds like a pretty safe time to take a selfie. As with everything, when it comes to this world, there is a trick ensuring your makeup looks incredible in every (yes, every) picture you take. There are a few tips that our sister site Byrdie has given us on how to get flawless makeup.
#6: Shoefies Are Totally Acceptable
When is a selfie not a selfie? When it's a shoefie, of course. Sometimes, you just have to take a picture of your fabulous shoes, but you need to know just how to get that right too (hey, what's the point in spending money on footwear if your Insta fans can't enjoy them too?). We've got a few pro tips on how to take the perfect shoefie to ramp up your likes.
#7: Test-Run the Latest Trends
Sure, you know your new Gucci loafers are going to get tonnes of action. But what about those polarising socks you love (but your friends hate) or those wide fishnet tights that you're not sure about? Try out your different looks on Instagram with your selfies, and hone your wardrobe in the long run: win-win. And if you're looking for the best way to get a full outfit in a shot, just take a tip from Stedman: "A sitting shot works well to get the whole outfit in and you can fill the frame," she notes.
#8: Be Prepared to Edit
One tip we always rely on is taking more selfies than you need (or is socially acceptable). Our editorial director found this out when she interviewed the king of selfies, Balmain's Olivier Rousteing, who shared that even he takes heaps of options. The idea is that you will take so many than you'll end up with at least a couple you like. Once you've got your perfect picture, it's time to edit using a great app, such as the perennially popular Facetune, or try Kim Kardashian West's favourite photo-editing app, Perfect365. Hey, if KKW says it's good, we're on board.
#9: Add a Filter
We can almost hear you rolling your eyes at us. Of course you're going to add a filter to your picture before you post it up. But did you know there are actually filters that are scientifically proven to make you look more attractive? According to The Huffington Post, Yahoo Labs and Georgia Tech analysed over 7.6 million Instagram photos and discovered that Mayfair, Valencia, Hefe, Nashville and Aden were the most flattering and gained the most engagement when used on photos (#alwaysfilter).
#10: Understand who your audience is
Sure, if it's just your mum liking your photos, then perhaps you don't want to give this bit much thought. But if you're genuinely trying to build up an Instagram following, particularly if you're doing it for professional reasons, it might be worth considering the kind of people you're doing it for. While it's all good and well looking flawless in every shot, how about being more authentic? Speaking to The Telegraph, Briony Miles said that she uses the Clarendon filter for her gym posts, as “I feel that it's quite bright and motivational and works equally well for selfies and foodie pics. It isn't too "airbrushy"—you still look like you."
Want more? See the biggest spring/summer 2018 fashion trends that you need to know about.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Elinor Block.