The word "selfie" was Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2013, but Oxford Dictionary's website suggests that the word may have been first used as early as 2002. Now it's hard to imagine life without selfies. I know they get a bad rap, but it really is convenient to be able to photograph yourself or friends to record a moment or event. It's especially convenient when you don't feel like asking a random stranger to take a picture for you, or if you're wandering around the Rocky Mountains and there's no one else around.
Believe it or not, there is a bit of an art to taking a good selfie. And it's not a skill that teenagers just magically have. There are actually a few simple things you can do to improve your selfies, and I can tell you why these techniques work!
Find the Light
A well-lit selfie is always better than one taken where it's dark or dim, and natural light is always better than artificial light from a household lamp or fluorescent overhead light. In a dim room, your selfie camera will try to compensate for the low light, but you'll likely end up with a fuzzy image and a strange color cast. You can see the picture below is a little grainy and fuzzy, and there's some red light on our faces. (My sister and I took this selfie inside the church sanctuary right after our brother got married.)
The best place to find natural light is next to a window. Windows work especially well because the sunlight from outdoors is able to fall evenly on your face, but the window glass softens the light a little bit before it lands on you. My husband and I took this picture at a ski lodge right across from a large window.
My sister swears by "car light," and always takes the best selfies sitting in her (parked) car. In a car you have windows all around you providing soft, natural light!
Outdoor lighting is good, too, but if it's a sunny afternoon, you're going to end up with some bright highlights and dark shadows. Natural light on a cloudy day is just as good, if not better, than window light. I have an entire blog post devoted to the best lighting for portraits, if you want more suggestions about where to look for light.
If you don't have access to a window, or if it's nighttime, try to face a bight light source that doesn't put off too much yellow light.
Use a High Angle
The "selfie mistake" I see most often is taking the picture from a low angle. That is, holding your phone at chin-level or lower. For the most flattering selfie, you want to have your camera or phone at eye level or higher. It requires a little more effort from your arms and shoulders, but it works!
When you're being photographed, the features or body parts that are closest to the camera will be emphasized more than those that are father away. When you hold your camera at a low angle, your chin and neck are emphasized. Holding the camera up higher brings your eyes closer to the camera and makes them stand out, which is much more flattering in a photo.
Don't Shoot Straight On
I covered this in my post about posing tips, but your selfies will look better if you don't take them straight on. Your face will look a little slimmer if you take your selfies from a slight angle. And remember to look at the camera! Once you've lined up your shot, don't look at yourself on your phone. Instead make sure you look at the little camera circle up at the top of your phone's screen.
Selfies are part of our society now, and our phones make it pretty easy to take them. Keep these simple tips in mind and you'll be able to step up your selfie game!
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