Taking good selfies has become important in recent times due to the increased usage of social media platforms, smartphone photography, and influencer marketing. On these platforms, people often share their selfies as a way of self-expression, communication, and building a personal brand. Good selfies can help individuals present themselves in the best light, increase their online presence, and foster positive relationships with others. Additionally, with the widespread use of selfies, it has become a way for people to document their memories and experiences.  We’ve already taught you how to avoid bad selfies, so in this short tutorial, we’ll go a step further and teach you how to take good selfies.

How to Take Good Selfies | Short Video Tutorial

Taking good selfies requires a knowledge of simple and easy techniques, lighting tricks, and other basic concepts. Here’s a quick 60 second video from Pye to illustrate the technique.

Experiment with angles

Try taking selfies from different angles to find the most flattering one. In most instances, holding the camera slightly above your head is the optimal angle.  Holding it below your head and looking down can create an unflattering double chin.  However, be careful not to go too high with the angle though, as that can look awkward and unnatural.

Find the Right Lighting

For photographers, light is the most important element when capturing a shot. Whether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, good lighting can make all the difference in the quality of your image; it shapes and brings life to your subjects, allowing you to bring emotion, texture and dimension to your photos.  The process of finding the right light is no different with selfies!

Indoors with Window Light – If you’re indoors, position yourself near a window that doesn’t have direct light streaming in.  If it does, try using a sheer or transparent blinds to diffuse the light.

Outdoors – If you’re outdoors, try to find a shaded area without direct sunlight hitting your face.  Also, remember that even shaded light has a direction, so ideally you want to find a light direction that fills in your shadows.  Avoid light coming from directly above, as that can create shadows under your eyes.

Night Time or Low Light – In low light, follow the same concepts as above, but instead of natural light, find a directional light source.  Avoid standing directly under canned lights, which might mean that you stand slightly in the shadows, away from the lights above.

Choose the right background

selfie photo fausto sandoval 5q3vrOf4 D0 unsplash 1
Selfie with a clean background | Image from Unsplash

Your background should complement your selfie, not detract from it. A plain wall or solid-colored background works well, as does a natural setting such as a park or beach.  If you’re shooting indoors, clean the space behind you that shows up in frame.

Pay attention to your posture

Good posture can make a big difference in how your selfie turns out. Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and look confident.  Slightly extend your neck toward the camera for a more flattering look.  However, make sure you don’t extend it too far, as that can look natural and exaggerated.

Turn towards the light! If you’re shooting with light direction, slightly turn your chin towards the light.  This is a concept known as “short lighting,” which generally has a face slimming effect.

Find Your Ideal Expression

The ideal expression is different for everyone, so play around and find the one for you.  Try slightly squinting, an expression coined the “squinch” by famous headshot photographer, Peter Hurley.  Experiment with different smiles, from close-mouthed smiles to full smiles. For more information and inspiration, follow these 5 Tips for Good Headshot Photography.

While the image below is not a selfie, it demonstrates the difference between the subject’s “wide-eyed” expression (on the left) and the “squinch” (on the right).

Photo from our Headshot Photography 101 Workshop

Additional Tips for Taking Good Selfies

Extend The Camera Away From Your Face – Objects closer to the camera will appear larger than objects that are further away.  Since selfies are taken at such a close distance, this means that your nose will generally look larger if the camera is close to the face.  For more information on this concept, study lens compression.

Use Portrait Mode – If your smart phone has a portrait mode option, turn it on to minimize distracting elements in the background and make you pop off the background.

Play with filters and editing – Most smartphones have a variety of filters and editing tools that can enhance your selfie. Experiment with different filters and presets to find the one that works best for you, and use editing tools to brighten up your skin or sharpen your features.  Be careful not to go overboard, however, and make sure you create something authentic.

Have fun with it

Finally, the most important tip of all is to have fun with your selfies! Don’t take them too seriously, and remember that the best selfies are the ones that capture your personality and spirit.  For more tips, read our article on 20 Tips and Tricks for iPhone Photography.