The infamous selfie is an autobiography of sorts. Since the invention of cameras, people have been capturing self-portraits to document birthdays, brunches, and sometimes nothing at all. The smartphone selfie just made the practice even more widely accepted.
With the introduction of smartphones, selfies became more popular and, oftentimes, more casual. That’s not to say that you can’t use your phone to capture a high-quality and alluring self-portrait – you can! We are going to break down the art of the smartphone selfie so you can take yours up a notch.
What is a Selfie?
A selfie is a picture one takes of themself. Selfies are a form of expression, and you can say a lot with yours depending on how you compose it and frame yourself.
Types of Selfies
Wait, there are different types of selfies? Well, your phone has multiple cameras, so it makes sense, right?
The most common type of smartphone selfie is easily the classic and straightforward front-camera selfie. We see plenty of these every time we open any social media and, more than likely, in our camera rolls. These types of selfies can document:
- makeup looks
Smartphone selfies can also be taken with the back camera, and if you want higher quality and more room for creativity, we recommend you try this way out as well.
The back camera is of higher quality and gives you more freedom when it comes to taking selfies. The increased freedom is because when using the front camera, you are likely holding your phone with your hand, and this limits what you can fit in the frame and where you fit.
The selfie stick is a newish invention explicitly designed to improve your smartphone selfie game, so take advantage of it!
What is a selfie stick? It’s basically an extended arm to put some distance between the camera and you. The selfie stick allows you to capture more of your surroundings in the picture rather than the camera being obnoxiously close to your face. And I’m sure we all have some family members who post those pictures obnoxiously close to their face (you know the type).
Selfie sticks are perfect for taking pictures out in nature or with friends to try to squeeze as much in the frame as possible. Check out the seven best selfie sticks available in 2020 if you want to know what your options are.
For the more advanced selfie takers, drone selfies can really add something extra to your selfies. Drone cameras allow you to take pictures from up to 400 feet away. This wider angle means you can capture a photo of you as just a speck amongst any background.
If you’re interested in smartphone controlled drones, then 2020 has some pretty awesome and cost-effective options.
Drone selfies make perfect adventure shots, and a lot of travel and adventure bloggers use these for their social media accounts. This type of selfie really highlights nature, so if you want to capture incredible selfies rich with beautiful nature scenes, consider getting a drone and exploring this type of selfie!
How to Take a Killer Selfie
There are a few essential components when composing your perfect self-portrait shot:
Let’s go over some tips for each component so you can get your selfie game to professional status. Learning more about smartphone portrait photography will help too.
Step 1: Locate the Light
For a good selfie, you need good lighting; specifically, good natural lighting. Your best bet is going outside and basking in the glow of the sun while you photograph yourself. The ideal time for this is during sunrise and sunset, so you can get a nice warm glow instead of that harsh midday brightness, which may cast shadows on your face. Overcast weather is also perfect for taking selfies. A cloudy sky can add a pearly sheen to your smile as long as there is still some sunglow peeking out from the clouds.
If you don’t want to venture outside for your selfies, at least face a window. Natural lighting can do wonders for illuminating your face, smoothing the appearance of your skin, and brightening your eyes. If you find that you need some additional lighting, then read about LED lights for your phone.
Step 2: Composition is Key
Even though we see our faces every day and it may not feel special, a selfie still can and should be a work of art. To add some oomph to yours, make the frame special.
Consider the rule of thirds when composing your shot. Since you will be the main subject, stand off to the side a little to draw the eye around the picture instead of directly to the center. Adhering to the Rule of Thirds ensures a more visually appealing photograph.
Pick an interesting background. My favorite place to take selfies is outdoors because you get that good lighting, but you also get some exciting elements from nature.
The forest can be a really cool backdrop with many options. You can frame your photo with foliage, tree bark, pockets of sun, and shadow. The forest is an opportunity to introduce texture, movement, and mystery to your selfies. Pose in front of different places to capture different colors and plants, so you have options from which to choose. And always take more pictures than you think you need!
Play around with scenery and see where you feel best! Set your phone up on a tripod with a self-timer, get in the frame, and smile! Nature is your backdrop, allow yourself to be inspired by it.
You can also use more urban settings as a good place to compose your shot. Pull inspiration from street photography. Set up a tripod in a busy street with colorful buildings or enticing shapes. Make the frame look interesting to dress up the focal point: you.
Step 3: Perfecting the Pose
Once you pick a background and a composition you like, it’s time to focus on yourself. Practice in the mirror to find some poses you rock. These can be poses you feel comfortable in, look your best in, or demonstrate an emotion.
When choosing your pose is where you should explore what kind of mood you want to portray. The classic selfie is a simple smile: a display of joy. But don’t shy away from other emotions. You can create a powerful selfie that displays other emotions. Try out some different looks besides smiling.
Check out our guide to shooting professional headshots on a smartphone for some more posing ideas.
Step 4: Edit Artistically
Editing your pictures can add an extra element of creativity to your selfies. You can use filters for a quick change that has been tried and tested by many. Or if you want to explore a more personalized way of editing, you can use an app or software which allows you to play with different aspects like light, shadows, contrast, sharpness, and more.
If you want your selfie to have a happy-go-lucky feel, try bringing the brightness up and lowering your shadows. You can also adjust the warmth to add a happier feeling. On the other hand, if you reduce the warmth to allow more coolness in your picture, it will feel more solemn and more serious. Play with adding colors that aren’t there and see what kinds of moods you can elicit through color alone.
You can also edit your selfies to correct them. Edit out blemishes, other people, and awkward marks or folds if you want a more clean finish. You can also sharpen your pictures, so they look more professional, or crop them however you like.
There are hundreds of cool apps to edit your pictures with, check out our list here. Utilize them, explore them, find what you like.
Necessary Selfie Tools
While it’s true that you can take a good selfie without anything but your phone, there are a few pieces of gear which will improve the quality. Here are some pieces you might consider investing in to improve your selfie game:
- Selfie stick
- Remote shutter
- Telephoto Lens
Tripods for Selfies
If you are going to take steady pictures using a self-timer, I recommend at least a tripod. Tripods provide the stabilization needed for a smooth and clear shot, and you can get a good one without breaking the bank.
Check out the nine best phone tripod options in 2020.
Tripods are useful because you can select your setting and then set it up, knowing exactly how your frame will look. You can then put your phone on a self-timer, run out into the shot, and capture your photos from afar.
As mentioned, selfie sticks were designed to improve your selfies. They come pretty cheap, and using them is very simple, but they add a lot in terms of range, so if you want to step up your selfie game, I recommend the low price required for a selfie stick. These pieces of gear will improve your selfies tenfold and allow you to get some seriously intriguing shots.
Smartphone Controlled Drone
If you want pictures from super far away, you will need a drone. Drones are made famous by travel/adventure bloggers. Drones will allow you to send your camera high up and capture pictures of broad surroundings with you in the center. If you want an adventurous, action selfie, definitely consider investing in a drone.
Remote Camera Shutter
Another useful tool in keeping your smartphone as stable as possible during your photoshoots is the camera remote. With a remote shutter, you can take smartphone photos from thirty plus feet, reducing the wobble that could result in blurry images. This will allow you to set your phone up and get into position before taking the picture. Otherwise, you may have to rush to pose in time before your self-timer goes off.
A telephoto lens will make objects in the frame appear larger than they are. The effect created by a telephoto lens is a unique one that will help your selfies stand out by drawing more attention to the subject: you. Do you want to see the best tele lens options for 2020? Then click here.
Tips for Spectacular Selfies
#1 – Cheatsheet
For an extra glow, hold a piece of white paper under your chin. The light from the window will bounce off the paper and bring some more brightness to your face.
#2 – Take a Hundred
The more selfies you take, the more you have from which to choose. This way, you can practice angles, expressions, and lighting. It might feel silly, but try it out. Take a bunch of selfies and then delete the ones you don’t like.
#3 – Smile Like You Mean It
Don’t contort your face into a grin that feels forced. Practice a natural smile. Think of something funny or cute while you pose. And if you want a slightly more serious smile, take Tyra Banks’ advice and “smile with your eyes.” A cheeky smize can bring some charm into your selfie.
#4 – Have Fun With It
Selfies are fun, so you should definitely have a little fun taking them. Do things that feel silly, poses that don’t feel natural, makeup looks you wouldn’t normally wear – this is the time to leave your comfort zone. Remember, if you do the same thing you always do, your selfies will look the same as they always do.
Try something you have never done before, and you might be surprised at how your selfie turns out.