When Ellen DeGeneres snapped a selfie while hosting the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony it was an impulsive act that ended up having global implications. The famous photo was seen by more than 40 million people via social media and it has been estimated by one public relations firm to be worth close to $1 billion. Your selfies aren’t going to be seen by 40 million people and they won’t include Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, but they’re still valuable to you and for that reason it’s important to take care when snapping. The 400 people (maybe?) who see your selfie will appreciate it. Here are some tips to taking a great selfie each time.
Tip #1: Use Good Light Most smart phones come equipped with a flash, which may or may not trigger when needed. Regardless, natural light is the best and you should position yourself in the natural light as much as possible. Put the light 45 degrees to your side if possible, not in the back unless you have a natural reflector in front of you. If you’re on the beach get out of the bright sun or you risk being overexposed.
Tip #2: Know which side is your best Do you have a “good side”? Accentuate it. Look back at previous photos of you and see which ones are the best. What position were you in? Mimic that.
Tip #3: Smile and have fun Everyone looks better with a smile and people respond much more favorably to images that show people having fun. So, why not smile and have fun when you’re taking your selfie? It may seem silly to smile when you’re by yourself, but go ahead and flash your toothy grin. Make yourself laugh, you’ll be surprised at how natural your smile looks when you’re laughing.
Tip #4: Select an interesting background Context can be everything. Place yourself somewhere engaging and interesting. Stand in front of a scenic view. Place yourself next to a funny situation or ironic scene. Seek out some color or alternatively, place yourself on a simple, dark background that complements you and makes you the focal point of the photo.
Tip #5: No mirrors Please, please, puhleeaze, for the love of Kodak, don’t take a selfie in the mirror. We’ve seen it, we’ve been there, it’s been done, it’s been overdone, it looks cheesy. It looks bad. Also – flip your your phone settings so your selfies aren’t reversed. It’s weird when that cute mole on your left cheek is suddenly on your right.
Tip #6: Heads up! In most cases you look better when your head is up, not tilted downward. There are lots of reasons for this (the pesky double chin for example), so keep your head up and make eye contact.
Tip #7: Stick it Do you know what a selfie stick is? It might be helpful if you want to take selfies from more than an arm’s length away. A good selfie stick will hold your camera or phone securely and extend to several feet. Want to be really sophisticated? Download an app like Snap Remote (available for the iPhone or Android) and use it with a handheld button that works with most camera phones. You’ll be the wizard of selfies.
Tip #8: Use a filter Some photographers hate filters, but for the average everyday person with a cell phone camera, a filter can take your photo from average to good or from good to great. A filter can not only instantly add a cool photo effect, it can also help hide blemishes and other imperfections in your photo. Instagram offers dozens of filters and you can also quickly share it with people all over the world. Just like Ellen.