How to take the perfect selfie

Selfies are a great way to capture the incidental moments of your life. If you don’t know already, a selfie is a photograph you take of yourself with your smartphone or whatever camera you have in your hand. Selfies have become so commonplace nowadays that the word has been added to the Oxford and Macquarie dictionary. Heck, the current generation is even known as the ‘Selfie Generation’. So now that the word is part of everyday vocabulary, the important thing is to know how to take the perfect one – and these handy tips may help you on your way.

Frame it right
It’s important to remember that a selfie is an unconventional way of taking a photograph. However, the basic rules of composition still apply. Consider the ‘rule of thirds’ when composing a selfie portrait. Try to keep yourself occupying two-thirds of the photograph’s space and allow the final third to be taken up by the background. Or reverse the order if the background is particularly special.


Finding the right camera angle
Angles play a vital role when taking selfies. Shooting a picture from a low angle can accentuate your chin and make your eyes look sleepy. Conversely, shooting from too high an angle can make your eyes look bulbous and make your head look like an orange on a toothpick. Having said that, if that’s the effect you’re going for, that’s fine. Sometimes experimenting with angles can make a mundane shot look amazing, or weird.

The ‘magic’ angle can be obtained by holding phone in your arm at a 90-degree angle from your upper body. Then, shift the phone slightly to the left or right (depending on your good side!) then shift up about 10 degrees. This will give you a nice dramatic angle and dimension to your selfies, which will show a little glimpse of the background behind the top of your head.

Most smartphones will have a camera at the front and back. So why not use the lens on the same side as your screen (front camera) to practice and see how different angles work?

Lighting a selfie
As with any type of photograph, lighting plays a key role in the outcome of a perfect photo. Make sure you have turned off your flash when you are taking selfies, because the harsh light will most likely do you no favours. When taking selfies, always make sure you are facing the light, because if the light is behind you, you’ll appear as a great shadow or silhouette in your photo. It’s also best to avoid using light that is too dark or too bright; natural light is often the most flattering light for selfie portraits.

Use ‘Burst Mode’
If you can’t get it right in one go, try using the burst mode on your camera. Hold down the shutter button on your iPhone and a burst of up to 10 exposures will be captured. Then, switch to edit mode to choose the best image. 

Use a mirror
If you’re heading out and need an opinion on your hairdo or outfit, or you want to see if your shoes are working with what you’re wearing, try snapping a photo of yourself in the mirror. Simply stand in front of a mirror, and whilst holding the camera slightly off to the side so it doesn’t appear in frame, snap a shot and check yourself out on your phone screen. Then you be the judge – or share it with others to get a second opinion.

And Smile!
The best photographs are always the ones where you smile! If you have a hard time getting the perfect smile, try saying ‘monkeys’ to yourself for a more natural smile effect. Saying ‘cheese’ has been the go-to for many photographers over the years, but I find monkeys eliminates the chance of capturing the potentially unflattering mouth pose that can happen when you pronounce the ‘ch’ in cheese.

So, now that you know how to take a great selfie, why not snap a few and share them with your friends or family?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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