8 steps to a killer self portrait

Although we are long past the selfie stick craze to take pictures, selfies still dominate our image galleries. Whether it’s an outing, gathering, vacation, or holiday, most people prefer the phone’s front camera to snap pictures and post on social media.


Even if you have the latest iPhone or a top Android phone, your selfies will turn out average if you don’t follow the basics of selfie photography. Here are the top tips to take your selfie game to the next level.

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1. Face a light source

Your selfies will look dull if you aren’t facing the light source. Even the world’s best front-facing camera with a crazy specs sheet won’t help you without the light source. It’s true for selfies and your normal photographs. Whether using a dedicated lamp in a room or taking a selfie outside in the sunlight, you should always face the light source for the best results. The direct light highlights the picture’s main subject (your face). Also, avoid direct shadows over your face. Nothing ruins a perfect selfie like a huge shadow.

It’s not easy to avoid shadows on a sunny day. Wear a hat to avoid hard shadows and dark circles under your eyes or chin.

If you use artificial light, such as a selfie light ring, to brighten up the scene, don’t place it above your eyes, as it could create dark circles. Also, maintain a distance to the light source or use a light diffuser to prevent overexposed selfies. And, avoid fluorescent light of any kind. It produces a blue or green color cast and spoils the natural look.

Natural light during midday or the golden hour gives the best results. Unless you are an influencer or a pro, you don’t need to invest in extra equipment to create artificial light.

2. Avoid screen flash

While most phones have an option to light up the screen to create a flash effect, you should stay away from it. Screen flash isn’t as effective as a dedicated selfie light ring. It can only highlight the center subject and doesn’t brighten up the entire scene, leaving you with an average selfie. You might end up with an infamous red-eye effect. That’s not a good look unless it’s Halloween.

3. Smile normally

Your best angle or ideal lighting condition won’t matter if you take selfies with a fake smile. Use a natural smile, as your friends and family can immediately spot a fake one. Take a few selfies to find a natural smile that captures your essence.

It can be difficult for some to come up with a natural smile when looking directly at the camera. Practice your natural smile in front of a mirror before taking selfies.

4. Play with different camera angles

You won’t want your Instagram account filling up with selfies that look alike, right? Keep the camera up, put your chin down, and try several angles until you find one worthy of posting on Instagram or Snapchat.

Some people might not look their best when staring into the camera. Those highly symmetrical photos are less visually pleasing. Turn sideways and take the picture. There is no winning formula to take memorizing selfies from a specific angle. Try different poses in various styles and pick the best one.

5. Try portrait mode

Most front-facing cameras have a portrait mode. It blurs the background and puts the focus on the main subject, delivering a professional-looking photo. If your phone doesn’t have a portrait mode or you forgot to use it, use Google Photos to add background blur to your selfies. Check our Google Photos tips post to learn how to do it and other tricks to organize and edit your selfies.

iPhone users are in for a treat with a front-facing portrait mode. iOS offers different light effects in the selfie camera’s portrait mode. You can play with contour light, studio light, stage light, and monochrome effects to apply studio-quality lighting to your portrait mode images. The Portrait Lighting feature is available on iPhone 8 Plus and later phones.

6. Use a timer

You might capture blurry shots when you have shaky hands and take selfies with a shutter or volume button. Use your phone’s selfie camera timer and capture the perfect selfie moment. Look for the timer option in your phone’s camera app and choose between 2s, 3s, 5s, or 10s timers.

7. Use wide-angle mode for group selfies

Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep everyone in the frame. For group selfies, use wide selfie mode to fit everyone in the final shot. If your phone supports such a function, you’ll notice a group icon on the front camera interface. Check the screenshot below from Samsung Galaxy A52 running One UI 4.1 software for reference.

From now on, no one will complain about being left out or getting an unusual half-cut face in a selfie.

8. Use photo editing apps

If you’re not fond of the default filters on your camera, there’s no shortage of capable photo editing apps in the Google Play Store. You can use the Pixlr app to make collages or go with Photoshop Express to play with different filters. Don’t go overboard with tons of filters, stickers, effects, and frames, as subtle tweaks tend to stand the test of time.

9. Check the background

Even though you have an ideal outfit, makeup, and light conditions, check the background once before taking a selfie. A busy background with photo bombers can ruin your perfect selfie. It’s especially true when you take selfies in a nightclub or a crowded open park.

10. Wear sunglasses

If you feel shy looking straight at the camera or have a problem with maintaining eye contact for dozens of selfies, wear your favorite sunglasses. Then, you only need to concentrate on your natural smile and camera angle to snap a badass selfie.

11. Stick with your preferred filter

Once you find a filter that perfectly captures your vibe, stick with it. You don’t need to use different filters for every selfie. Aim for a consistent look on your social media page with selfies in a few selected filters only.

Take selfies like a pro

Now that you have taken some good selfies, it’s time to share them with friends on Instagram and Snapchat. If you have some private selfies you want to keep to yourself, you can easily hide them on your phone.

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