How To Take Great Selfies Using Your Phone

posted by Jimmy Nguyen - 

How many pics do you take in order to get that one good selfie?

Chances are, you've racked up quite a few outtakes sitting there on your phone camera. We know. It's not easy getting that great selfie. In fact, it's challenging at times. You're not alone. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can do to nail it each and every time. 

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Find Good, Even Lighting

This is a general photography rule. You need good lighting. I'm not talking about the sunshine that forces you to squint your eyes, I'm talking about the kind of lighting that you would look for in order to read a book. Lighting is important because it affects the mood and atmosphere of your picture. 

Natural lighting works best. Stand near a window, or in the shade near a wall outside on a sunny day. The best time to take a photo outside is during what we call the "Golden Hours." That would be an hour before sunrise, and before sunset. Those hours provide the perfect soft lighting for taking pictures of almost anything. The worst hours to take pics outside? That would be around 11 AM to 1 PM when the sun is IN YOUR FACE. 

Here's another lighting trick to reduce that "double-chin" effect: light up your face by bouncing the light from beneath your chin. Simply take a piece of white paper or poster board and hold it below your chin while sitting near a window. Your friends will wonder which photography studio you were in when you took that picture.


When Taking Selfies, Remember That Shadows Are Bad

Shadows can ruin a good selfie. When possible, face toward the nearest light source. Unfortunately, if you are trying to take a selfie while the sun is harsh and in your face, you'll run the risk of getting shadows under your eyes, which makes it look like you've got bags. Not good!


It's OK To Use Your Flash When You Have To

Sometimes, you'll have that urge to take a selfie while you're watching TV. If you're indoors without any good lighting in sight, you've got to resort to using that flash on your phone. Most phones don't have a front-facing flash, but apps like Snapchat have a "white screen" flash that appears right when the selfie is being taken. It's better than nothing and it sure helps. From there, you'll be able to adjust the levels after the selfie has been taken. 

Luckily, there are flash/lighting devices that you can connect to your iPhone or Android that can help to get you in the ballpark each and every time no matter where you're at. 

Smile Big

This goes without saying... but I'm gonna say it anyway, SMILE BIG. It's hard to end up with a bad selfie when you're smiling. Natural smiles work best here. If you wanna "smize" (smile with your eyes) instead, that's fine, just make it look as natural as possible. You'll wanna take a few practice selfies, or stand in front of a mirror and practice in order to get this right. 

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Angles Are Everything

Ever notice that mugshots (where the camera is directly in front of you) are drastically different than pictures taken slightly from above? Angles are everything. Most professional portrait photographers will suggest that the model keep their chin down, while they take the photo from above. 

Another tip is to look slightly to the side, away from your camera. Not too many people feel that they look better while staring straight at the camera, mugshot style. That's why selfie sticks are used by many, to get that angle just right!

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How to Pick The Right Filters

Sometimes, choosing the right filter can make all the difference.  Whether you have flawless skin or not determines how much filtering you'll use for your selfie. There are MANY to choose from. Some people like the Valencia filter on Instagram. Android phone cameras come with a "selfie mode" built in that allows you to adjust how much of that "dreamy" look you want. It's like an easy airbrush tool! 

Some apps like Facetune allow you to shape your face to make it look more defined in certain areas of your pic. Some apps have tools to blur out those bags under your eyes. There are so many apps out there that you can use to put some "umph" in your pics. The possibilities are endless. 

Remember, don't over filter yourself, unless that's the look you're going for. Sometimes, the natural look works best. Less is more here! No one likes an over-cooked steak! All in all, there's really no right or wrong way to edit your photo, only what works for you. 

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Take a Few Selfies... OK, Take A LOT Of Selfies

How many selfies do you think Kylie Jenner has to take in order to get that ONE selfie? Probably A LOT. Professional photographers will usually take hundreds of photos of models before they end up with THE ONE that they'll use for a magazine cover or calendar. So why wouldn't this apply to taking selfies? 

Rotate your head in small increments as your snap each selfie in order to find your best pose. This will vary slightly for each person. A pose that works best for Justin Bieber might not work for you. The key here is to pick the best out of 40 or 100. 

Some phone apps allow you to pick still pictures from a video. This will save you a lot of time and a sore thumb when it comes to getting that ONE selfie that you're happy with. 


No Duck-Lips or Fake Gang Signs!

OK, this is pure preference, I suppose, but if your pose it looks like it came out of 2005, don't do it. Stop it right now and put your phone back in your pocket. It makes you look like you're trying too hard to be cool more than anything. Your audience will be able to tell right off the bat. Again, looking natural works best here. Instead, think and look confident in your selfie by saying "YEAAAAH" in your head to help bring out that confidence! 

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