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5 Tips for Better Selfies: Selfie Light and More

Nearly everyone has taken a selfie or two... or 2,000. There are tons of fabulous reasons for shooting selfies: celebrating yourself, capturing a great hair day, documenting your vacation. The one thing that is common to all selfies is that we want to look great in them, whether we are taking shots of our first day at the new job or documenting that late night trip to the drive-through. Here are five tips for taking better selfies. 

selfie light

5. Pay Attention to the Background

Take note of the people and things behind you as you get ready for your shot. You don't want the background of your selfie to distract from the main subject: you. Before taking that spontaneous selfie shot, check to be sure that the background is interesting but not distracting. Make sure there are no ugly, inappropriate, or embarrassing items in the background.

We've all seen, and laughed at, the selfies that inadvertently feature distractions in the background. Your own smiling face should be the main focus of the selfie, not the photo-bomber with an obscene gesture, the pile of unfolded laundry, or the dog taking a dump.

Nature makes the best background for most selfies. Trees, clouds, and flowers all make for lovely and interesting backgrounds that don't take the emphasis away from your face. If you're in an indoor setting — like a club or restaurant — try to place yourself in front of a painting or a decorative wall.

At home, the background of your selfie should reflect something you like about yourself or show something that you love: a shelf of books or a tidy collection of your favorite knick-knacks. Be sure to tidy up the area, too: The "I'm cooking dinner!" selfie should not feature a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.

4. Use the Best Angles

Angle your camera in a way that highlights your best features. Many great selfies are taken with the camera held slightly up and away from your face. Shooting down from an elevated angle will slim your face and avoids the problem of too much nostril or too much chin. However, this shot might emphasize your forehead too much. 

Experiment with different camera angles. You might find that the best angle for highlighting your features is up and to the left or slightly to one side or the other. With experimentation and practice, you'll find the best angle for the camera to capture your best self. 

Selfie sticks are a great tool for adjusting the angle of the camera. The added distance of a selfie stick allows you to take great group shots, too. Most selfie sticks also allow you to take the shot with one hand, something that can be challenging for a beginner.

3. Strike a Pose

Most of us don't like our driver's license photo. There's a reason for this! Photos taken straight on, without any kind of posing, tend to flatten out our features and make us look two-dimensional.

The best selfies are not straight-on, look-into-the-camera, type of photos. Tilt your head, turn for a slight profile, or look away from the camera lens to take a selfie that does not resemble that driver's license photo or mug shot.

Practice taking shots with different poses to find your best side. The side of your face that you find most attractive — for whatever reason — will be the side that you will want to feature in your best selfies.

The straight shot disadvantage applies to full-length selfies, too. Turn your body slightly, put one hand on your hip or waist, and bend a knee or cross your ankles for the most flattering full-length selfie pose. A selfie with your arms at your sides, your feet flat on the floor, and your body facing directly into the camera will be the selfie that you won't want to share. 

The eye of the camera works differently than the human eye; you can't draw the eye of the camera with color or movement. So if you want to emphasize certain parts of your body or face, you need to pose yourself in a way that will feature those parts to the eye of the camera. 

2. Be Yourself

The best selfies are the ones that appear to be the least posed and most spontaneous. We've just told you to pose and plan and consider your position, so that seems to take the spontaneity out of the shot. But putting some thought into your background and your pose is what will give you those selfies that show the best of you. 

Smile a natural smile. A forced grin can come across as a grimace in a photograph.

Wear natural looking makeup. Your makeup contouring should not be more obvious to the human eye than to the camera's eye. 

Relax. Tense muscles will show up in a selfie, so take a release a deep breath before you snap the shot.

1. Capture the Best Light

The most important tip for taking the best selfies is lighting. Incandescent lighting can make you look yellow and give you a sallow, sickly look. Fluorescent overhead lights can cast unattractive shadows on your face and will give you a washed out look. Use natural light whenever possible. If you are indoors, try to take your selfie near a window. For outdoor shots, put the sun behind you to avoid squinting and dark hollows around your eyes.

However, sunny days don't last forever, and we don't spend all of our time outdoors — even on those sunny days. While natural light is the greatest light for shooting the best selfies, there are some options for lighting up the darkest interiors. Here are some suggestions for better selfie lighting.

  • Use the back camera of your phone. This is the camera equipped with a flash. The resolution of the back camera is higher, too, so it will capture the ambient light from the room. This flash can become your selfie light. The problem with this suggestion is that you can't see your face as you are taking the shot, which means you may have to take more shots to get the best one.
  • Get a selfie light phone case. These phone cases feature a line of LED lights along the edges of the case that can project light onto your face for a selfie. The rechargeable selfie light case eliminates the need for flash and improves the lighting of a cloudy or rainy day. Some brands of these phone cases feature variable lighting, allowing you to choose more or less light as you need it. 
    • One drawback of these light cases is that they are not protective phone cases. They won't protect your phone if you drop it, and in fact, the lights in the case might break if dropped. You would want to use the selfie light case only for those times you know you will need it — an indoor event or a night out. These cases are very bulky but are not protective. 
    • Another drawback of the selfie light case is that the cases are not available for every size phone. If you have an older iPhone or Android phone, you may not be able to find a light case for your phone.
    • And a third drawback of the light case is the cost. Quality light cases are priced in the range of $30 to $60, depending on the style of the phone.
  • Use a selfie light ring. These devices are portable, detachable, and small enough to fit into a pocket or purse. The selfie ring light features as many as 32 tiny LED lights built into a ring that clips onto your phone. The light surrounds the camera lens and projects light toward your face, providing the light you need to get the best selfie. They cost between $7 and $15 on Amazon.com.
    • Most brands offer multiple light settings, and some even feature a dimmer type switch that allows you to choose just the amount of light you want. Some light rings are battery powered; others are rechargeable. Most of the clips on these rings will fit on your phone in its case. 
    • One drawback of the light ring is that the rings can be awkward on your phone. The clips are padded to avoid scratching your phone, but they do tend to make the phone a little top-heavy.
    • Another drawback is that the lights may make a halo around the edges of your selfie, lighting up the perimeter. 

Make the Most of Your Selfies

Following these tips will help you produce the best selfies for sharing on your social media platforms — selfies that will require fewer filters and edits to showcase the real you. Strike a pose, angle the camera, be aware of your background, and use a selfie light for better selfies every time. 

 

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