When it comes to taking good selfies, natural good looks are less important than actually knowing what you’re doing. Here are the best tips to take selfies that'll make you look like a model.
Looking good in a selfie can be a challenge, even for extremely attractive people. This feat takes more than good looks: it requires expertise and ability to snap the right kind of pictures for the right kind of situation. And once you get the hang of all the basics, you’ll find that anyone can look great when they know what they’re doing. To get you started, here are the best tips to take selfies that'll make you look like a model.
The devil’s in the light
The first and perhaps single most important thing to secure a good selfie is lighting. And the best lighting you can hope for is natural lighting—meaning you don’t want any flare from your computer monitor or television in your photo. And for all that’s good, please avoid using your cellphone’s flash at all costs.
If you really want the best possible selfie lighting can get you, take your pictures outdoors or near a window during the Golden Hour: that magical time when light is most flattering, no matter your complexion or specific features. You’ll get golden light about an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset, depending on where you live. The farther away you are from the equator, the longer the Golden Hour you’ll get.
Throw your head slightly away from your neck
Extending your head away from your neck, so that your jaw seems more pronounced, will help you accentuate your jawline, making it appear sharper. Your neck will also look slightly longer. Do this as you look up towards the camera to get the best results, and don’t overdo it: you don’t want to appear tense or outright comical. You don’t need to extend your head much: it’s a subtle pose that achieves a powerful effect on-camera.
Avoid looking down when taking your photo, unless you’re going for a somber feel. In general, you’ll want to show off your eyes and make them look as big as possible. To achieve that, look up towards the camera, and raise your eye brows ever so slightly. Be careful not to look scared—you want to look wide awake, not awkwardly startled!
Don’t hold your phone right in front of you
Look for a slight angle, otherwise your picture will appear more like an ID photo than anything else. And we all know how bad we look on our passport, right? As a general rule, you’ll want to avoid low angles, unless they’re very subtle: a picture taken from the top down (so you look up) is generally better than a photo taken from the bottom up (which will either force you to look down, or otherwise just get your nostrils, which are often less flattering than the rest of your face.)
A natural smile is worth a thousand words
Ever seen that Friends episode where Chandler couldn’t take a good picture if his life depended on it? His smile was the problem, as it is with many people. Most will tell you that, when looking at a selfie, they prefer a beautiful smile over a serious look every time. It’s a fact. Smiling goes a long way when it comes to selfies. They make you seem fun, relaxed, and overall more attractive when done right.
According to Photofeeler, a site dedicated to evaluating profile pics and dating selfies, “by far the most impactful characteristic we found in this study … is a particular kind of smile.” Specifically, a smile with visible teeth, but not so visible as to make you appear to be laughing your ass off. Don’t get me wrong, laughing also makes you seem fun, and some laughing pictures are good, but they also take away from some other features you’ll probably want to show off, like your eyes.
Remember that a smile is about the eyes as much as it’s about the mouth. You’ll just look fake if you smile with your mouth, but not with your eyes. So, I’ll give you the same advice Joey gives Chandler: if you’re having trouble with awkward smiles, simply look down, think about something you like, then look up towards the camera as you smile again, and snap the picture right then. Practice in front of the mirror until you get it right, if you need to.
Shadows are your enemy
Well, it depends. Shadows are tricky, and it’s certainly hard to use them to your advantage. There’s so many ways a rogue shadow can accentuate your bad features that most professionals would simply suggest to avoid them as much as possible—they can make you look tired, highlight dark circles around your eyes, or otherwise make your picture look amateur.
On the other hand, if you manage to find a good play of light and shadow to bring out your better side, then you might use them to your advantage. Take what is known as Rembrandt’s triangle: that shadow-play to make you look mysterious and epic at the same time. Still, it requires a lot of expertise to make shadows work that way, so you’re better off seeking light at this point under almost every circumstance.
Practice makes perfect
The more selfies you take, the better you’ll know what works for you and what doesn’t. Remember: you don’t need to post every single photo you shoot. So, don’t be afraid: snap as many as possible. That way you’ll be able to choose. Just don’t overdo it: it can easily become addictive if you’re not careful.
Choose the right apps for your needs
Different apps have different features and filters, all of which offer varied options for different scenarios. Snapchat, for instance, allows you to use your screen’s light when it’s otherwise too dark, acting as a sort of flash. Not ideal, but perhaps better than nothing. Pixlr has great functions and quality for editing, and so does Afterlight. Instagram’s filters are world-famous, of course, but these other apps offer alternatives if you’re looking for a change. Whatever you end up choosing, just remember not to over-edit your pictures to the point of making them look unnatural.
Be mindful of your surroundings
There are many other subtle details that are important. Your outfit and accessories make a world of difference on how you look, obviously, but so does your photo’s background. Taking your picture in an open space will make you seem more extrovert and adventurous, whereas shooting it in a small room will make it all feel claustrophobic.
Want to look intellectual? Try posing in front of books. Nature-lover? Look for trees. Find a way to convey your mood and personality not only through your facial expressions and clothes, but through your surroundings as well. Don’t forget to use everything you can to your advantage.
Mind the repetition
Tired of seeing the same selfie repeated over and over on every single app you own, only with different faces all the time? Don’t fall for the hype of particular selfie-styles: be your own person and look for something different. Don’t copy unnatural expressions or cliché backgrounds from others. Gym selfies with duck-faced people are overdone, for instance. It’s far more interesting to show your fitness on a road than on a walking machine, and with a genuine smile rather than an obvious attempt to highlight your cheekbones.
And certainly don’t use the same pose, same expression, and same idea in all of your selfies. There’s nothing worse than seeing an Instagram account of a person who seems to have only one look forever carved on their face. Variation is key. And the more natural, the better—don’t go for awkward or overly “original” expressions or poses just for the sake of diversity; in the end, people will see right through that. So, get “naturally” creative, and have fun!
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