It shouldn’t be that hard to take a good selfie. But we all know the following experience too well: you feel all hot and confident, snap a selfie, eager to send it off to last night’s sexy Tinder date and surprise — your camera has suddenly become cold and vengeful and refuses to capture you the way you actually look. You have two options. Keep snapping away aimlessly, each shot worse than the next, until you get frustrated and lose your confidence, or read the rest of this article and learn how to take good selfies, every single time.
a guy just caught me taking a selfie n expected me to be ashamed so i took forty more— beth mccoll (@imteddybless) January 19, 2015
Angle your phone slightly up, down or to the side or keep your totally phone still and tilt your head slightly. You can also try tilting both your phone and your head, in which case you’ll look rather silly for a few seconds until you nail down your own winning combo of phone + head + tilt. Whatever you do, taking a selfie straight on is probably not going to result in your best shot and it has nothing to do with your beautiful face. Trust me on this.
Think about it. Way back in the day before camera phones were born, when Ben and Jen were Hollywood’s power couple, we took portraits with ‘real’ cameras from lengths away. Not exactly the ideal process for taking a good selfie.
Today, when you take a selfie, you’re just an arm’s length (literally, your arm’s actual length) away from the camera. When you’re super close to any object (in this case, your face), you see the object much differently than when you’re further away.
Like, if you see someone running off in the distance they look, well, tiny. Now if you were basing your observations strictly on what you see, you might be sure there’s a cat-sized man some distance away from you. But since your brain has built up experience you know that the runner is in fact a full size human and in fact, not a cat.
Not convinced? There’s also the fact that the cylindrical shape of a camera lens can make whatever’s in the middle—usually our nose—appear flatter or wider. Yep, I just said your nose might look bigger. Andddd, that should be enough evidence to make sure you tilt something when setting up for a selfie. Let’s move on.
Eyes Matter Because You’re Human
In any photo or even painting, you’re subconsciously drawn to eyes. That’s half the charm of the Mona Lisa, right? Even though most of our actual communication today is via email and iMessage, we’re still not robots. We’re still searching for that human connection in someone’s eyes and we look there first. So, the point is – to get a compelling photo, focus your eyes on the camera when you take a selfie. Directly at the camera, not the phone area in general. If you followed my advice above and wiggled your head and your phone around to find the perfect selfie angle, now you need to freeze, concentrate and gaze deep into the lens of your smartphone.
If you’re like my mom and have yet to understand exactly where the camera is buried in that sleek, mysterious iPhone attached to your hand all day long, take a second to inspect the front of it and do a few tests to learn where your eyes actually meet that camera full on.
When taking a selfie, I have friends who pretend they are about to seduce the lens with their eyes and others who try to imagine the moment right before they are about to laugh. In both cases, these friends of mine are trying to soften their eyes to put some human emotion in their expression. A good selfie connects whoever is looking at you, to you.
Yep, Lighting Matters Too
Whether you’re selfie-ing indoors or outside, stay away from harsh lighting, like bright white kitchen lights or direct sunlight. That said, make sure there’s enough light – otherwise your photos can come out blurry and no amount of photo editing later is going to be able fix that.
Now, the best time of day to take photos outside is when the sun is lower in the sky, before sunrise and right after sunset. That’s just some essential photography basics for you to chew on right there: I know that no matter how hung up you are on taking a good selfie, you’re not going to wake up before the sun does for it.
Facetune Is Your Friend
Oh, you knew this one was coming. There’s a reason Facetune and Facetune2 have been at the top of the charts on the App Store since the brand emerged in 2013. It doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you ugly. It makes you a master selfie taker. Taking a good selfie becomes easier than ever. Let’s talk about why.
With editing apps, you simply get better selfies. You can swipe away a pimple because your skin has waged war on you this week. You can conceal your dark circles because you binged on Netflix until 4am. With Facetune2, you can use the Reshape tool to adjust your features, if you ignored my advice about tilting and came out with a jawline or a nose wider than space. Let’s face it, photos live on IG way longer than blemishes live on your face, so I choose to just swipe them away.
If you’re feeling particularly creative, or self expressive, you can get, well, creative or self-expressive with your selfies. Facetune2 has a tool called Neon which adds a colorful glow around to your photo, similar to the gel filters that are used in high-fashion photoshoots these days.
There’s also the Defocus tool, where you tap once and the background is blurred around your face, taking your selfie one step closer to a professional headshot and one step further from the messy room selfie it really is.
Go On, Take a Good Selfie:
Knowledge is power, and now that you know how to take good selfies, you can take on any bad skin day, defocus any trashy background (bar bathroom selfie, I’m talking to you), and empower yourself with an awesome selfie that’ll make you feel like a rockstar.
Now it’s time share that rockstar pic with the world, with relevant hashtags (find out why selfie hashtags don’t necessarily work in 2020) and a fabulous selfie caption guaranteed to stop your followers mid-scroll.