Ladies in traditional Japanese dress in Kyoto

How to take a great selfie

16 December 2019
Posted in: Courses, News

Everybody has taken a selfie at some point in their lives, although some of us more than others! If you’ve ever dressed up and felt amazing, but just can’t seem to capture that in a selfie that you like, then you’ve come to the right place.

From choosing the right angle to finding the best lighting and filter options, this guide will tell you all you need to know about taking a great selfie. Read on and get ready to take the best selfies of your life!

Man taking a selfie with a backdrop of leaves/treesMan taking a selfie with a backdrop of leaves/trees

Our Top 10 tips for a perfect selfie.

1. Choose your equipment

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose your selfie equipment - will you be using your phone or a camera? Smartphones are perhaps the most popular choice when taking a selfie, as they’re handy, easy to hold and have plenty of filter options, but cameras allow you to add more depth and detail to your selfies. The Guardian has compiled a list of the best smartphone cameras for selfies, while this list will help you find the perfect selfie camera.

2. Get yourself ready

You’ll of course need to make sure you’re picture-perfect before taking a selfie. Make sure your hair is done and if you want to wear makeup, do ensure it’s not too shiny, so that it photographs well. A bright pop of lip colour really stands out well on photos, but it is entirely up to you to choose what you’re comfortable wearing. After all, if you feel confident within yourself, it will transfer into great selfies.

3. Choose your angles

Got your equipment? Perfect, now’s the time to find your best selfie-ready angles. Everyone has a ‘best’ side where they feel most confident, and this is the side where you should take your selfie from, so you’ll be happier with your photos.

Avoid staring straight into the camera when you take your selfie, as makeup artist Nick Barose tells Allure: “Most people don't look their best straight-on. Turn to the side a little bit — not to the point where it's a full-on profile, but just slightly."  And if you want to make your face look slimmer, taking your selfie from the side will really help.

4. Find your pose

So, what pose shall you do when taking your selfie? As the Queen of Selfies Kim Kardashian advises, keep your chin down and look up to your camera. Hold your phone or camera above your head, so that the bottom of it is at the same level with your eyes. This is by far the most flattering angle for a selfie – after all, who takes a good photo from below?

Once you’ve got the positioning right, raise your eyebrows as this makes your eyes look bigger and any fine lines or wrinkles around the eyes will smooth out. A few other top tips include extending your head away from your neck, so your neck appears longer and jawline appears sharper, and pushing down your shoulders so you look more relaxed. Do this and you’re on your way for a great selfie.

5. Smile!

If you’re comfortable doing so, a big smile will always look great on selfies. Natural smiles are always better than forced smiles, so we’d recommend practicing in front of the mirror before you try take the perfect smiling shot.

Group of 4 women taking a selfieGroup of 4 women taking a selfie

If smiling isn’t your thing, a top tip is to relax your mouth, and exhale, blowing air through your lips. This makes your mouth look relaxed and stops it from looking tense, and can help make your lips look plumper too. Win-win!

6. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting!

When it comes to taking a great selfie, you can’t undermine the importance of good lighting. As vlogger Jordan Liberty says, "Light is undoubtedly the best beauty product you don't have to pay for!" Good lighting can make undereye circles and shadows appear reduced, so don’t underestimate it!

Natural lighting will help you achieve your most flattering selfies, giving you a beautiful glow. The best time to take a selfie is when the sun is rising or setting - this is called the ‘golden hour’ of photography, and will really help to create illuminated, flawless snaps. So, turn to a window with natural light and be ready to take your best ever selfies!

7. Flash or no Flash?

If you’re not blessed with heaps of natural light or want to take a selfie in low light conditions, there are still ways to achieve a flattering pic. The best way? Use Snapchat!

Snapchat has a subtle flash on the front facing camera that really transfers well into selfies. All you need to do is press the lightning bolt at the top left of the screen and take your selfie as normal. This flash transfers a bright white light onto your face, helping to illuminate and smooth out your features. It’s the best front-flash by far, and you can always adjust the tone afterwards to make the darkness and colour levels right for you.

If you’re not a Snapchat user, we don’t recommend using the flash on your smartphone as this rarely produces good photos. Instead, stand in front of a warm light source, such as a lamp, and snap away. It won’t produce as stunning an effect but will still show you in your best light.

8. Take a lot of selfies

It’s rare you’ll take the best selfie on your first go, or even first ten! Taking a lot of selfies is key to achieving the perfect snap. Kylie Jenner says she takes around 500 selfies before she finds one that she likes enough to post – and although that number may be excessive, we definitely recommend taking a few selfies so you can find the best one out of the lot.

Another tip is to film your selfie session, instead of taking pictures. Just press record and pose! Then, watch back the footage and screenshot any frames you like best. It may seem strange, but this is a great way of finding that elusive perfect selfie. And nobody will be able to tell the difference!

9. A little post production helps

Once you’ve found your favourite shot, it doesn’t harm to edit the photo a little bit. All smartphones will have an editing feature, but you can also try retouching apps such as Photoshop Express or Facetune. These apps can help blur out any imperfections you’re not happy with, add filters and make sure your selfie is the very best it could be. And don’t forget there’s always filters on Instagram and Facebook that you can add before you post your picture online.

However, be conscious not to overedit your photos – like adding too white a filter for your teeth or blurring out your skin so much that it no longer looks natural. It’s always best to keep it as natural as possible, enhancing your features instead of changing them completely.

10. Improve your photography skills

Of course, if you really want to enhance your photography skills further, there’s a number of courses available you can take to improve your general people photography or specialist skills. At City Lit we have a wide selection of courses including:

· Portraits and People 

· Beauty Photography 

· Studio Lighting 

· Using your camera flash 

· Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 

Hopefully this guide has helped you on your journey to better selfies. And remember, if you really want to boost your photography skills, there’s a course at City Lit to help you.