How to take the perfect selfie

3 simple things you can do to step up your selfie game

young couple taking a self portrait laughing as they pose close together for the camera on their smartphone outdoors in summer sunshine
Racorn/123RF

Taking a self portrait might seem like a straightforward process, but the truth is, getting the lighting, composition, and mood just right can be a challenge, as is the case with any photograph.

To ensure your Snapchat post is up to snuff or your Tinder photo is as smooth as your pickup line (which will inevitably fail after you match with someone), we’re here to offer a few tips to improve your selfie game.

There are three components to any self-portrait: lighting, composition/framing, and stance. Each of these aspects intertwine with one another to ultimately determine what the resulting image will look like. Below, we’ll dive into each to help you better understand how to make the most of the selfie trinity.

The Best Lighting for Selfies

Lighting plays the most important role in the overall quality of your selfie. After all, the word photography literally means “painting with light.”

More often than not, you’ll want a soft, even light for selfies. Harsh light can accentuate unwanted features and overall tends to yield a less attractive aesthetic, although, as with anything in the world of photography, there are exceptions to this rule.

The easiest way to achieve soft, even lighting is to capture your selfie by a window during the day. Depending on what direction the window is facing, you might need to adjust where it is you’re standing. But overall, natural light is far more likely to yield a better image than the usual artificial lighting you’ll find in your house or while out and about. Below is an example selfie, taken by model Tess Holliday, showing the benefits of soft, even light from a window.

how to take a selfie screen shot 2017 03 30 at 3 53 17 pm

In the event you’re outside and there’s no shade to take cover under, your best bet is to shoot with the sun at your back and expose the image for your face. Better yet, use your body or head to block out the sun in the frame to minimize flares. This should yield a far more usable image than shooting with the sun at your face – not to mention it’ll save you from squinting your entire way through the selfie-shooting process.

If natural light isn’t a possibility, try to find an area that offers a large, diffused source of light, preferably a light source that isn’t facing straight down from the ceiling either, as it will cast unnatural and unappealing shadows, most notably under your eyes and nose. Play around with fill flash, which helps to illuminate the face in backlit situations.

Mobile

China bans selfies at gigantic Aperture Spherical Telescope

You can't take a selfie with the world's largest single-dish radio telescope anymore, as the Chinese government has banned everything from smartphones to digital cameras in the surrounding 5-kilometer area.
Gaming

Tired of the same PS4 annual releases? Try one of these indie games instead

While big budget games rely on practical innovation, indie games dive head first into new, unexplored territories. If the quirky and unusual appeal to you, take a look at our list of the best indie games on PS4.
Gaming

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.
Photography

Panasonic Lumix S1R vs. Nikon Z 7: When megapixels matter, which do you choose?

The 47-megapixels Lumix S1R and 46-megapixel Nikon Z 7 are the two highest-resolution, full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. The S1R features a high-resolution mode that can take 187MP images, but the Nikon is lighter and cheaper.
Photography

Nikon Z 7 vs. Sony A7R III: High-res mirrorless cameras compared

The Nikon Z 7 and Sony A7R III both have over 40 megapixels, but which one comes out on top? With similar image quality, the answer comes down to speed, autofocus, battery life, and design.
Deals

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera gets a steep price cut at Walmart

Modern smartphones can snap pretty impressive pics, but if you want pro-quality photos, you need a dedicated digital camera. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras on the market, and it’s on sale right now for…
Photography

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?
Photography

Light on price but rich on features, these are the best cameras for students

Need pro-level features on a budget? The best cameras for students mix advanced features with a more palatable price point. From $2K entry level full frame cameras to $600 budget picks, here are five of the best cameras for students.
Photography

After controversial video, China bans ‘Leica’ on social media

A video that referenced Tiananmen Square got the name of the camera company Leica banned from the social media platform Weibo. Leica says the video wasn't an officially sanctioned promotion.
Photography

Photography News: Instagram’s disappearing likes, the best photos of the year

In this week's Photography News, see why Instagram is testing a version that excludes the number of likes a post gets. Also, see the impressive winners from two photography contests and the latest features coming to the Fujifilm X-T3.
Photography

Panasonic Lumix S1R vs. Sony A7R III: Which pixel-shift powerhouse is better?

The Lumix S1R and Sony A7R III are different in design, but similar in performance, and both offer pixel-shift high resolution modes which pull even more detail out of their already high-resolution sensors. Here's how they compare.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Photography

Earn more likes on your photos with the best cameras for Instagram

Looking to snap better Instagrams? Instagram doesn't demand high-resolution files, but upgrading your camera can deliver better bokeh and low-light quality. Here our the best cameras for Instagram.
Photography

Capture life in every direction with the best 360 cameras

While 360 cameras are still a new technology, that doesn't mean there's not a few that are worth a look. Whether you want to shoot from the middle or just need a simple, affordable option, here are the best 360 cameras on the market.
1 of 3