"Selfie" was declared the oxford dictionary word of the year in 2013 and the world as a whole continues to take millions of good (and bad!) selfies every day. The best way to look good in a selfie is of course to have supermodel looks, however, failing that, there are a couple of simple photographic techniques you can do to make the best of your mug.
Tips & Tricks
Location, Location, Location
The location you choose to shoot your selfie in will determine two very important things - the background and the lighting. Before pressing the trigger, give a good look at what's behind you and pick an angle without clutter or dirt (P.S. beware of any mirrors which might reveal more than you intended ;)). Whenever there are too many useless/dirty items in a photo (crumpled clothes/packaging/empty food vessels/etc), they will divert attention away from your face and give the photo an unpolished/dirty feel. If you are sitting at table, take a second or two to straighten out any crockery.
Be aware of the position of the sun since it's going to be your main light-source. As always, try to pick an area in the shade - this will always produce even tones & beautiful skin. Otherwise, if you are going for a bright summer selfie, tilt your head upwards to avoid panda eyes (shadows in the eye sockets caused by the high and bright sun). When shooting in direct sunlight, your skin may look a bit plasticy - so choose a filter that will counteract this effect. I personally like toning/cross-processing these style of shots since it will also help remove any dark black shadows you might have.
Depending on the layout of the room, indoor selfies allow for more control over the way we use light. First of all, use natural light wherever you can - this will produce a much better photo than any bulb in the room (especially since these are generally going to be high above you!). If there is a window (or even better a window covered with a thin/sheer curtain) then this should be your light-source.
If you take the photo facing the window, this will produce even lighting across your entire face. If you've had one too many drinks the night before and are feeling a bit bloated then use Short-Lighting (below) to make your face appear thinner.
Short lighting is a technique used in portrait photography that can be used to add texture to a photo or two to make a subject appear a bit slimmer. To apply this technique you simply need to light up the area of your face which is facing away from the camera. So, assuming we have a window in a room, place that window at 45 degrees to your left/right and look into the window. Next, grab your camera/phone in your other hand which is not pointed at the window and use that to take your selfie.
You should take a selfie either at eye level or a bit higher up - higher angles usually flatter the face and you DON'T END UP SHOOTING UP YOUR NOSE! :) There may be things lurking in the dark that you just don't want people to see. Keep your camera as far away as possible from your face. IFor closer shots, crop the photo using whatever app you're using to filter. (See my post AnyCamera Tips#2 for more tips in this area)
Make it Interesting
Whist having a pretty face is usually good enough, the actions you do whilst taking your selfie will add huge layers of interest to the photo. A cheeky smile, a funny face or simply doing something different (for example taking a selfie on a carousel ride... whilst you're riding it) will raise the selfie from the Just-Another-Shot-Of-My-Face to a photo that can be truly memorable.
In Their Own Words
First off, I think you're a real selfie queen. Do you have any tips for taking a good one?
Sarah> When taking a good selfie one has to keep in mind 3 very important points: Lighting, Camera angle, Filter
Maxine> awh haha selfie queen? :) So first of all to take a good selfie there has to be good lighting. I usually try to take my selfies facing the light cause you have a better chance to look better and the filters look amazing with good lighting. Secondly, i try not to take my selfies really close to my face cause my face ends up looking too big and any blemishes end up showing a lot.
Maxine's Tip> When I take a selfie I try not to hold my phone with two hands cause my shoulders look big haha.
Do you have a favourite app you use to shoot/filter them?
Sarah> My all time favorite app has to be my beloved Instagram!!! After downloading tons and tons of filter applications, nothing competes with instagranm’s choice of colour tones, contrasts, sharpness and more.
Maxine> Before the new instagram filters came out i used to use an app called VSCOcam but lately i’m loving the new instagram ones.
Sarah’s TIP: if you want to keep your full photo while editing on instagram, just download the app ‘’InstaCrop’’ for iPhone (or Square InstaPic for Android) . This allows you to edit your photo without having to crop it
Group selfies (or Us-ies?) yay or nay? (why? :))
Sarah> I simply love love love group selfies, especially during a wedding or behind the scenes of a photoshoot. These Us-ies capture memorable experiences along side your friends or family.
Sarah’s TIP: If you don’t own a selfie stick, the best way to take a group selfie is, that one of you holding the phone stays on a side, and the whole group scatters behind him/her.
What puts you in a selfie-taking mood?
Sarah> Hahaha I’m always in a selfie-taking mood!!!! Whether I have just woken up or just got ready to go out, there is always time to stop and pose for my daily selfie.
Maxine> I usually end up taking loads of selfies when I’m done from getting ready and I’m waiting for my parents or friends to get ready or else when I go somewhere and they have the perfect selfie lighting. People probably think I’m a huge weirdo cause I’ll just be there taking loads of selfies alone haha :).
Head-and-shoulders vs Half Body?
Sarah> Hmmm.. my answer has to depend on what I am focusing on that day. On some days I like to focus my selfies on my make up looks or different hair styles, while on other days I like to focus on ‘’My Style, My Look’’ , a series of photos with different outfits.
Maxine> Half body! because Head-and-shoulders means that I have to take the selfie from a close distance, so nay.
Crazy Angles vs straight-on?
Sarah> Crazy angles are sometimes hard to pull off… so I definitely have to choose straight on!
Maxine> Crazy angles and straight-on..... according to the state my hair is in haha :) :)
Plain background vs Interesting Location?
Sarah> Funnily enough this answer has to depend on the type of outfit I am wearing that day. If my outfit consists of busy patterns, I normally turn to plain backgrounds to balance out the picture. On the other hand, interesting locations come very handy when my outfit is plain and simple.
Maxine> Depends on my look :)
Smiling or Serious?
Sarah> Smiling, serious, pouting, duck facing…. I do them all hahaha!!
Maxine> Both! :) When I’m taking a seflie I usually take 3-5 from each expression and then I'll choose the best one haha :)
What's your favourite selfie style?
Sarah> Winged eyeliner, red lipstick, good lighting, a sweet "smize" (smiling with your eyes) and to top it all off… my all time favourite instagram filter Valencia!!
Maxine> My favourite selfie style is a mirror selfie before a night out with friends so I’m usually dressed up with makeup and hair done :)
and lastly... Selfie stick: Awesome or Menace to society?
Sarah> Believe it or not I am still without a selfie stick myself!!!! I am still not sure about this latest trend. I think I’ll just stick to my roots.. and remain taking selfies in the original way.
Maxine> Awesome, awesome, awesome. Enough said haha i love it.