When it comes to having my picture taken, I’m not always a fan. It’s not that I’m camera shy, it’s just that it makes me feel really old. I see how my girls just naturally take to the camera as they post selfies on Instagram or Snapchat. Friends who have a sense of fashion and self are poised as a photographer snaps a full length shot to showcase their latest outfit.
I take selfies all the time for my own personal scrapbook, but I don’t usually post them online. My main reason for taking them is that I want a digital record of where I was. That I was actually in a location that I said I was. Or more realistically, I want proof of something that I know in the near future I’ll forget. Despite everyone in our family owning smart phones, somehow I seldom am IN the photos unless I’ve turned the camera on myself and whomever I am with. The reason I don’t post them online is because I simply haven’t mastered the skill of using my new iPhone 7 Plus.
This is why I want to bring you a few tips to help ensure your selfies have the right qualities to make you feel confident about sharing them with your friends and family on your social channels! Maybe you can learn a few tips to be able to post in time for National Selfie Day on June 21st. Yes, that’s a thing, but why not? Grab your Selfie Game then celebrate the day in style.
First and foremost, let’s talk about tools. It shouldn’t be a surprise that newer cameras such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 take better pictures because they have newer advancements in technology. While most smart phones include a front-facing camera, there is definitely a quality difference in the newer ones. An iPhone offers a 7 megapixel front-facing camera while the Samsung Galaxy S8 offers Smart Auto Focus to make sure everyone in the selfie is clear and in focus.
Then there’s the matter of the Selfie Stick. Do you need one? Not really. Is it a fun accessory? Definitely. There are some locations that prohibit the use of selfie sticks, but if you’ll be at a festival or gathering of some sort and want to take a photo with a large group of friends then a selfie stick is a great solution. Either that, or find someone with really long arms. Worried about dropping your phone while trying to take the photo? PopSocket is the current rage, allowing the user to steady the phone with only a couple fingers.
Kennedy and I had a discussion the other day about techniques and she had some very specific thoughts on what makes for a good selfie. One thing we agreed on is that dramatic duck lips (AKA kissy face or fish face) don’t cut it. As in… don’t do it. It looks stupid. From there, we had a few different opinions that are mostly related to our ages.
If you’re seasoned in life as I am then the angle of the camera can make a huge impact on how well the photo turns out. I don’t know many people my age who can pull off a successful selfie with a low angle shot. By looking down, you create a natural double chin. Kennedy didn’t see this as a problem for anyone her generation. Actually, she said too many people raise the camera so high the attention is on the rest of their body instead of just their face. Kennedy’s thoughts were much more specific. She says to hold your arm about 2 inches from your hip with your elbow at a 91 degree angle. Not too high, not to low. Oh, and don’t be afraid to tilt the phone a little to only get half your face. While I like the tilt, getting only half of my face only works if I’m trying to capture something else in the background. She did concede that holding the camera really high can sometimes allow you to show off your latest fashion statement, but I personally think a mirror offers a better outfit view. You can try these angles and see what you think.
Of course, lighting is a MAJOR factor in creating an ideal selfie. Sunlight is your friend, don’t turn your back on it! If there is a window nearby, use it to your advantage. If you are outside, find a good angle that provides lighting without having you looking directly into the sun. Also, be conscious of how the sun causes shadows on the rest of your face. The best lighting to grab a selfie is right before sunset.
Like a real estate agent’s motto, the best selfies include location, location, location. With U.S. Cellular’s high-quality network, you can easily capture and share selfies from a hike, concert, vacation, trendy hot spot or simply hanging out with friends. When your selfie includes a story, it has more meaning than one that you’re taking only for the sake of taking one. Along the same line, be aware of what’s happening around you. Some of the best selfies have been spoiled not by a photo bomb (those actually make the photos more interesting), but by unexpected or awkward backgrounds. Seriously. Someone pointed this concept out to me while taking a selfie with a friend in front of Animal Kingdom as our heads were blocking out the “im” in Animal.
Look at the camera and say cheese. Okay, you don’t have to say cheese, but at least look at the camera. I cannot tell you how many of my photos have me looking at the button as I try to snap the photo and not at the lens. I’m more focused on making sure I hit the stupid button than looking into the camera! Whether it is your camera or someone else’s, make sure everyone knows where to look. You know a good fix for this? Use the iPhone’s timer feature. Set it for 3 seconds then stare at the lens (NOT the countdown timer!) and it will do a burst photo when the timer is done. Select the photo in your camera roll then look through the 10 burst images to find your favorite.
Understanding the app itself makes a huge difference. Many people don’t realize that taking a selfie in Instagram reverses the image (like a mirror) – most noticeable if there is anything with writing such as a logo on a shirt. If this bothers you, take the photo using the iPhone’s camera feature (which doesn’t mirror the image) then load it into Instagram afterwards. Along that same line, editing can be your friend. Selfies are generally spontaneous and meant to capture a particular moment in time. But there are times when even with proper lighting, environment, angle and setting, there’s something about the photo that you don’t love. While I don’t want to encourage you to spend too much time trying to crop and edit a photo, don’t be afraid to do it on occasion. Apps such as Perfect365 allow users to improve their complexion, hide imperfections and even apply virtual makeup. There are a variety of photo editing apps available so play around with a few if it will make you feel more confident about sharing the photos. Please keep in mind that over-editing is no better than a poorly taken photo in the first place.
Last but not least, don’t get hung up on having the “perfect” photo. Sometimes capturing the mood with natural smiles and an awesome backdrop make up for a double chin and not great lighting. Of course, if you’re having trouble getting a sincere smile out of everyone, take a goofy selfie then have everyone look at it right before taking a regular one. Everyone will be laughing at the wacky expressions of the prior and those genuine smiles will shine through.
Whether you are my generation, my daughter’s generation or somewhere in-between, there are certainly reasons why you should learn to take selfies.
So tell me… what is your favorite selfie tip or trick?