How to Take an Amazing Selfie | Tips from a Professional Photographer

Do you need to step up your selfie game? Anyone can take a selfie but do you know how to take an AMAZING selfie? Follow this professional photographers tips to get stunning selfies every time.

Hey y’all!  I have been a photographer for 13 or so years now.  Everything I have learned is from research and self teaching.  

Have you always wanted to learn more about photography but thought it was too hard?  There are SO many free on line sources now that make it fairly easy to teach yourself the art.  So why not start now?!


Learn How to Take Great Selfies

When you hear the word selfie, do you think happy thoughts, or do you get anxiety?  I feel like usually we have one of those two emotions. 

Those who love taking selfies and feel confident think happy thoughts.  The rest of the world thinks, “Oh no I’m going to look fat,” or “Oh no I always give myself a double chin,”  or “Why do my selfies always make my nose look huge?”  

Well guess what?  There are actually quite a few selfie do’s and don’ts that will hopefully help you get your selfie on in no time (and thinking happy thoughts about them instead of stress)!

 

1. Confidence

First and most important, Confidence is KEY! It doesn’t matter what you read in this post, if you are not feeling confident you won’t take a great selfie!  I do NOT always feel confident.  On those days I avoid taking pictures of myself.  Even if you have the best lighting, angles and posture, you can’t make up for the look in your eyes.  So FEEL confident.  It really is important.

2. Lighting

Second most important thing is lighting.  You can have the best make up on.  Your hair could look fabulous.  You could have just lost 15 pounds and are feeling skinny, but if your lightning sucks it will suck all of those great things straight out of the picture.  Here is an examples of BAD lighting.
 
Selfie of a woman with backlighting.

Here is an examples of GOOD lighting:

 
Selfie of woman with black background.
 

I taught a photography class last month and we went over all of these selfie dos and don’ts.  I gave everyone homework: to find a selfie corner in your house. 

It should exist.  Usually right next to a natural light source like a window.  Next to the window should be a blank wall (if you have one).  This is my selfie corner.

Photo of a "selfie corner". A wall with a big window on one side that is close to a corner. Then a blank wall on the other.
Different angle of the selfie corner.

In the afternoon I have the BEST light here.  My walls are dark because this is a TV room upstairs.  It practically looks like I am using a backdrop. 

I almost never take a bad picture in this corner.  If I do, it is because of bad angles and usually nothing else. So look for your selfie corner at home.

Also, note the time of day you usually take a selfie. Depending on where the sun is outside you might need a different selfie corner, or to change the time of day you take your selfies.   

You want to stand up against the wall NEXT to the window with the natural light coming in.  This lets the light hit your eyes and makes them sparkle. 

No one wants dead eyes in their pictures.  This is how you avoid them.  Letting that light hit your eyes from the side makes them shine and it doesn’t blind you or put horrible shadows on your face.

Shadows

Can you figure out why this picture is bad?

 
Selfie of 30-something woman with short red hair with a shadow on her face.
 

If you haven’t guessed it already, you may notice I have a shadow on my face.  I already feel like I have a mustache half the time so I do NOT need encouragement from a shadow going across my mouth area. 

If you notice a shadow, move your phone slightly until the shadow is gone.  Take a picture and see if your lighting works at that spot instead.  Shadows on the face are NOT okay!

This is going to seem nit-picky but you may also want to avoid shadows you are casting on the wall.  I don’t mind them when its a creative choice but if you are self conscience about your nose for example, or your chin, you for sure do not want to have it casting a shadow next to you in your picture.

 
Selfie of same woman without shadow on her face.
 

Back Lighting

Another example of bad lightning is called back lighting.  That is when you place a light directly behind you.  IN DOORS THIS USUALLY DOES NOT WORK!!!  Here are a few examples I took with a light right behind me.
 
Selfie of same woman with backlighting.
 
Another photo of same woman with backlighting.
 

It makes your face grainy and hard to see.  Sometimes you might want that look. If so then go for it.  But if you want a clear picture of your face avoid this at all cost. 

This rule only applies to inside photos. If you are taking a picture out side and you have natural lighting, like the sun, back lighting can make for a gorgeous photo.  Here is an example of placing the sun behind you and giving your hair a great glow.

 
Selfie of same woman but with outside sun as backlighting.
 

This is hard to accomplish if you know nothing about photography, so practice!  Take a few shots.  If you don’t like how they are coming out, try having the sun stream though something behind you like a tree. 

This will help filter the brightness out and make it easier for you to get the effect you want.  Here is an example of the sun filtering through something behind you.

Do you need to step up your selfie game? Anyone can take a selfie but do you know how to take an AMAZING selfie? Follow this professional photographers tips to get stunning selfies every time. | We Three Shanes
 

When in the sun you do not want to place it directly in front of you.  It will hurt your eyes and make you squint.  That’s no good.  It will also wash out your face and, if you are a ginger like me, you need all the color in your face you can get!

 


3. Background

Another important step to think about when taking a selfie is your background. If you are at home like most of us are when we are taking a selfie, we tend to forget to check the background.  Here is an example of a fairly good picture of my face but check out all that crap in the background!

Selfie of same woman with cluttered background.
 

If I post this picture I guarantee not many people are going to be looking at my face.  They are all going to be wondering why I didn’t move things before taking the picture.  So, either, clear a space or angle the shot so your body hides the stuff like I do in this photo.

 
Selfie of same woman with clean background

I didn’t move to a different spot in my living room,  I just angled the camera so my body was hiding the chaos behind me.

4. Angles

The last thing we’re going to discuss are angles. ANGLES ARE YOUR FRIEND!  If I don’t watch my angles I can easily add 15 pounds and nobody wants that!

Straight on and camera pointing up, selfie of same woman looking down at the camera.

You can also shave 15 pounds off of you by the way you angle the camera.  I always take my camera and hold it just above my head.  Then I angle it down towards my face.  This is best for most body types.

 
Same woman taking a selfie with the camera higher and tilted down to give herself a slimmer look.
 

Body Angles

Body angles are important too. Think about standing perfectly straight and looking in the mirror, verses slightly tilting your body in one direction. It completely changes the shape of your body (try this out in a mirror if you want to really see the difference).

If you are heavier, this is the angle for you.  I almost never take a selfie with my body and face straight.

 
Do you need to step up your selfie game? Anyone can take a selfie but do you know how to take an AMAZING selfie? Follow this professional photographers tips to get stunning selfies every time. | We Three Shanes
 
Selfie of same woman with body turned forward but face turned to side, facing camera.

If I am trying to get a picture of my shirt and a straight on picture is necessary, try this little trick I have learned.  Find a table or a bathroom sink, something you can lean on.  Take the hand holding the camera and rest it directly on the counter or table.  I bend forward, like ass in the air bent forward! 

I’m sure your significant other would love watching you take this one. Ha Ha!  This angle helps take the pounds off while still getting the shirt in the shot and making your face smaller like so:

Same woman sticking her butt out to get a slimmer look for her selfie.
 
Same photo as above but cropped so you don't see how far back her butt is pushed back.
You are welcome!

Face Angles

Another thing to think about when choosing your angles is: what features on your face do you want to diminish or accentuate?  If you have a big chin or nose, for instance, you may not want it to be sticking out more than normal, so a really angled face won’t work for you. 

Study your face and the angles you think work for YOU!  I know this seems like a lot to remember for a stupid selfie but I am telling you, 15 minutes worth of homework and you won’t have to dread selfies any more!  Here is my favorite picture of me from this session.

 
Do you need to step up your selfie game? Anyone can take a selfie but do you know how to take an AMAZING selfie? Follow this professional photographers tips to get stunning selfies every time. | We Three Shanes

Lighting is great and you can see it in my eyes.  This is my favorite way to angle my face.  

I have big arms so I tend to lift them up a bit so they are not smashed against my body (which makes them look even bigger). Look for the things you do not like in a picture of you and then figure out how to angle your body and face to minimize those areas.

 
 

Sum it All Up!

Let’s go over the rules one more time.
 

1. Find your selfie corner at home.

2. Check your lighting indoors.

3. Clutter free background

4. Angles, angles, angles

5. Have fun!

 
Rules for taking a good selfie. Find your selfie corner, good lighting, find your best angles, clutter free background, and have fun!

Life is hard sometimes.  We get too hung up on what others think of us.  This is why selfie taking is so hard.  It stops being about US feeling good with regards to how WE look, and ends up with US worrying that OTHERS will think we don’t look good. Feel confident!

Put some make up on if that makes you feel good, put a shirt on you love, jewelry you are rocking, find your selfie corner in your house and take a billion pictures. Try lots of different angles.  Make sure there isn’t a bunch of stuff in the background and then sit down and go through your pictures and see which ones you love.

Find a quote you love and add it to your selfie.  Post it on Instagram with the hashtag #selfieloveWTS.  We would LOVE to see what you come up with.  We think everyone is beautiful no matter your size, shape, color or background (unless it’s your selfie background. Remember that’s shits important!).  Let’s love and support each other in this journey we call life.

Here is my favorite picture with a quote that makes me feel good.  I can’t wait to see yours!
 
Selfie of same woman smiling with the words, " Don't be eye candy. Be soul food." on it.
 
 

If you have further questions about taking better selfies, feel free to leave a comment and I promise to write you back.  If we need to, we can do another post next month to check in.  Love your selfie!!


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5 Comments

  1. I never take selfies because it is too much work to make it look good. Great tips. Now I can be IN the pictures with my kids or husband!

  2. I learned so much from reading this. I can’t wait to try out your tips. I like that you give the visual examples of your own photos so I can see what you mean better.

    1. I am so glad you felt it helpful. Can I just tell you that it wasn’t easy uploading pictures of myself that I knew were bad! haha But I knew the visual would help people understand better. Thank you for the comment and I hope your selfies turn out amazing!

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