Selfies aren’t just a fad from the last several years. In fact, people have been taking them since as early as 1839, when Robert Cornelius took a self-portrait by sitting in front of an old-timey camera for an entire minute.
Of course, it’s much easier to take selfies today than it was 200 years ago. Modern smartphone cameras can capture our best side in beautiful, high-definition detail in less than a few seconds. Tap or click here to see our favorite budget smartphones.
But no matter how nice of a camera you have, taking a good selfie requires a bit of photography knowhow. Here are some basic tips that can help you turn decent selfies into self-portraits worthy of your favorite online profiles.
Not everyone feels comfortable taking photos of themselves — and that’s okay. But confidence can make a picture, so a bright smile and relaxed expression will do more for your photos than a metric ton of makeup.
If you find it difficult to make a natural-looking smile for your photos, take a moment to relax and get in the right frame of mind. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and remember that you’re taking this photo for you — not anyone else. You don’t have to force yourself, and weird expressions like the classic “duckface” won’t get you very far.
Another trick you can try is thinking of something that makes you laugh. Laughs are the most natural kind of smile there is, and their infectiousness even works across the internet. As the old saying goes: Smile and the world smiles with you.
Speaking of natural things, natural lighting is another important factor in capturing your best side. The best lighting for selfies comes from the sun, and if you’re in a bright enough space, you won’t need to use filters. Avoid shadows, and try using a light diffuser if you find that too much brightness makes you look washed out.
Listen to the experts
Celebrities know a thing or two about taking selfies, and nobody is better at the craft than the selfie queen herself: Kim Kardashian. In many interviews, she’s said one of the easiest ways to enhance your selfies is to find your “best angles.”
What does she mean by this? Simply put, your best angles are the camera angles that show you in the most flattering light. For most people, you can find your angles by doing the following:
1. Keeping your chin down.
2. Holding the camera higher than the middle of your face.
This has the effect of slimming your face, which creates a sleeker profile. Many people make the mistake of taking a selfie with the camera below their face. This can make your face look bottom-heavy and disproportionate.
Look behind you!
Another factor to consider here is the background of your selfie. Of course, if your face is the primary focus, a background might seem like an afterthought. But if people see a great-looking picture of your face with your messy bathroom behind you, it ruins the aesthetic you’re trying to create.
An interesting background can do wonders for your photos and has the added bonus of keeping your personal life private. Photos of you inside your home can accidentally reveal details you might not want others to know, such as where you live, what time it is in your area, what kind of pet you have or whether or not you have kids.
If possible, photograph yourself in front of something interesting that won’t detract from your face. If you don’t have a nice natural backdrop available, a simple white wall or color background will also work.
Worth one thousand words
Last but not least, keep yourself clean and groomed in your shot. Nothing ruins a selfie like food in your teeth or crust in your eye, and you can bet that others will notice these things if your face is the center of attention. For small details like whiter teeth, you can also try out teeth-whitening apps or photo editors for simple touchups.
As you can see, it’s not too hard to add some character to your photos. Have fun taking selfies, try new things and see what you can learn about yourself in the process. You might just discover your inner photographer.
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