Gracing your Instagram followers with a photo of your face is a far more daunting task than it should be. Even if you’re satisfied with your appearance in the mirror, some strange, unflattering magic happens when you flip to that front-facing camera.
If your selfie game is struggling, the good news is that you can easily fix it. Anyone can take a killer photo of themselves, so long as they have the right tools, poses, and camera settings in their back pocket. In this guide, we’ll go over important things like where to look, poses to try, and how to be more photogenic in your next selfie.
How to find flattering selfie poses
The first thing you need to master when it comes to good selfies is the pose. There are a lot of good (and not so good) options out there, but the most important thing to look for is a pose that works for you. If you’re not comfortable striking it, then try something else.
Where do I look when I take a selfie?
It goes without saying that you can pretty much look wherever you want. However, there is one tip that may result in a more flattering self-portrait. Instead of holding the camera directly in front of you and looking at it straight on — which can be a little awkward — try holding it slightly up and facing down towards your face. But don’t hold your phone too high. We’re not trying to recreate our early 2000s MySpace photos here.
Holding the camera slightly up will force you to look slightly upwards. We find that this is generally a more flattering look.
What are the best selfie angles?
The best angle for a selfie is the one that makes you feel most comfortable with your unique look. That said, the only way to figure that part out is to try a bunch of angles for yourself and see which ones you like.
Here are a couple of selfie angles you can try:
- Pointing your chin slightly down and looking up at the camera
- Turning your face slightly to one side
- Laying down and putting the camera directly above your face
- Looking straight on at the camera but slightly elevating the arm that’s holding your iPhone
- Pointing the camera upward and looking down at it with your chin extended out slightly
Selfie poses you should try
The second most pressing matter to get the hang of is selfie poses. Now, there are all sorts of different things you can do.
Here are some interesting poses you’ll likely see while doing a quick scroll on Instagram:
- iPhone directly in front of the face
- Face cradled in one hand
- Hand in hair
- Side angle
- Hand blocking sun
- Leaning against a window
If you’re in a pinch for selfie pose ideas, the absolute best thing you can do is scroll through the top posts section of the #selfie page on Instagram. There’s tons of inspiration there, so don’t be afraid to play around with your camera and experiment with different poses. You never know what you might come up with.
How to get the best selfie light
Now that you’ve got your eye direction, angles, and poses down, it’s time we discussed the one thing that can make or break a selfie: good lighting.
Tip 1: Take advantage of natural light when you can
Good news: the most flattering and all-around best lighting you can find is totally free and accessible to pretty much everyone. Natural lighting should always be your first choice when taking a selfie. And while simply being outside in the sun will work, there are certain times of day where the light hits better.
Coined by professional photographers as the “golden hour,” the sun’s natural lighting is often the best for photos during the hour right after the sun rises and the hour right before it sets. So if you have the privilege of scheduling your selfies, try having your photoshoot during that magical, 60-minute period.
Tip 2: Face the source of your light
Whether you’re outside in the sunlight or using the lamp in your living room, in order to take the best kind of selfie, you need to be facing the source of the light. And if you can, try to position your face so that the light is toward your nose.
This will not only keep the subject of the photo, you, in the brightest and most visible position, but it will also provide flattering shadows and highlights to your face.
Tip 3: Keep your lighting at eye level
If you want the most flattering lighting for your face — outside of the sun’s golden hour — then you’ll want to keep your light source at eye level. When the light is hitting above your eyes, it can create dark circles, and lighting from below can cast strange, not-so-flattering shadows on your face.
Tip 4: Choose a background with a flattering color
Despite the fact that you are the sole star of your selfie, it’s crucial that you don’t ignore the background of your photo. While the area behind you should obviously be clean and clear of any embarrassing objects, the color of your background matters as well.
It’s best to utilize soft colors like white, light pink, gray, or tan, as these will reflect the light from your chosen source back onto your face. If you have a strong, vibrant background like blue or green, it might reflect a color onto your face that you’re not a fan of.
Tip 5: Try a clip-on light
If the idea of setting up a DIY lighting kit feels like a little too much, you can always purchase a simple lighting tool to enhance your photos. With over 2,000 reviews and four and a half stars, the Auxiwa Clip-on Selfie Ring Light is one of the top-rated selfie lights on Amazon.
It’s $19.99, comes with a rechargeable battery, and is, without a doubt, the easiest-to-use tool to level-up your selfie game.
How to take a better selfie with iPhone features
Poses, lighting, and angles can only get you so far. When it comes to mastering the art of the selfie, the most important thing you can do is figure out how to make the camera you’re using work for you.
Try the back camera
Even though the front-facing camera was pretty much made for selfies, the back-facing camera can take self-portraits just as well. In fact, on many earlier models (such as the iPhone X), the back camera has a higher resolution than the front camera, so using it might result in a better selfie.
The only caveat with using your back-facing camera is that it’s hard to know if your face is positioned in the best spot and if you’re looking in the right direction.
Thankfully, the app SelfieX can fix all of that. Available for free in the App Store with in-app purchases, this app uses voice instructions to guide you in taking the perfect selfie with your back-facing camera. It directs you to guide your face right, left, up or down, and also allows you to make quick edits after you’ve snapped the perfect selfie.
Flip the image in Photos
Because so many of us are used to only seeing ourselves in the mirror, where our reflections are flipped, you might find that you look a little different when you take a selfie. Luckily, there’s a quick way to fix this and get the reflection you’re accustomed to seeing. All you have to do is flip the image after you’ve taken it.
Here’s how to flip an image:
- Open your Camera Roll.
- Navigate to the selfie you wish to flip.
- Tap Edit at the top-right of the screen.
- Next, tap the crop and flip tool at the bottom-right of the screen next to the Done option.
- Then press the horizontal flip button at the top-left of the screen.
- Press Done.
Use Portrait mode
One of the best iPhone features you can use to take a high-quality, professional selfie is to use the Camera’s Portrait mode. Released back in 2016, Portrait mode is a setting on your camera that blurs the background and brings a single subject into focus. And when that subject is you, the photos turn out stunning.
Here’s how to access Portrait mode:
- Open your Camera.
- Scroll left to Portrait mode.
- Take your selfie.
Portrait mode works on both the front-facing and back-facing cameras. However, only iPhone Plus 7 models and newer have this feature. It’s not available on older devices.
Use iPhone Camera timer
The ultimate selfie secret, however, has nothing to do with a pose or an angle. The best way to take great selfies is to use your camera’s automatic timer.
With options for a 3- or 10-second delay, you can back up just enough to keep that killer pose while losing the sometimes awkward selfie arm.
iPhone 11 and later also come with the Slo-Mo feature on their front cameras, so check out our guide to slow-motion selfies if you’d like to try them out.
As frustrating as they sometimes can be, selfies are a fun way to break up your feed and show off your personality. While these tips and tricks will hopefully make you more confident in front of the camera, remember, you can always add a filter.