Selfies. Love them or hate them, it’s essential to know how to take a great self-portrait. It’s not as easy as it seems—in fact, it can be one of the hardest things to do. Whether you spend time setting up the shot or choose to capture the moment on the fly, a few tricks can go a long way. Here are five ways to take your best selfie. SMILE!
Go handheld. The simplest way to snap your selfie is to go handheld. Just find your light, choose your background, stretch your arm out as far as you can and snap away. It works especially great if you have long arms. Those who are not well endowed with long limbs may wind up with super close-ups, a little too close for comfort, depending on your camera and lense choice. In that case, a selfie stick will give you the distance you need. Here’s a tip: when you’re holding your camera out, be aware of the camera angle. A good rule of thumb, hold your camera at eye level. Holding it too low could create a monster effect or worse, a double chin. Also—you don’t always need to hold the camera out dead smack in front of you…experiment with holding the camera to your right or left just to change things up.
Grab a selfie stick. Give yourself an extra boost and reach for a selfie stick. You can achieve a wide variety of shots if you opt for a longer stick, while also solving the problem of being too close when you’ve got short arms. Selfie sticks come in a variety of lengths, with extendable sections allowing for the most versatility. You’ll also find a few types of camera connection points–some that merely clamp on to your phone while others may have a more secure connection, like GoPole which mounts securely to the GoPro camera housing. Some sticks have a shutter button on the end of the pole, while others come with a Bluetooth remote so you can trigger the shutter with your free hand. Experiment with burst mode as well to capture a series of funny faces among friends.
Use a tripod. The key to a simple tripod selfie is to have a camera with a screen that articulates and flips 180 degrees—so you can see yourself as you line up the perfect shot. Also, make things easy on yourself and use a camera that has autofocus. To start, find the light that flatters your face and then frame up your background. You can invest in a wireless remote to trigger the shutter button, or do it the old fashioned way–running between the camera and your mark to hit “record” on your video clip or initiate the self-timer for a photo. Some of this is trial and error. Do a test shot before you give it your all. Always mark your spot by putting a small rock in front of your feet before you move to review the result, so you can tweak your position as needed. If you don’t have autofocus or a flip screen, a marker is key. I often use a lightweight tripod or lightstand as my stand-in to get the focus just right. One trick–be aware of what’s in the background and try to avoid situations where random passersbys have the opportunity stare at your camera lens—you just never know when someone will decide to photo bomb your picture (on accident or on purpose).
Look for your reflection. Reflective surfaces can make for fun grounds for selfies. The mirrored surface of Cloud Gate (or “The Bean”) in Chicago, for example, is a really silly spot to snap your own pic. Be creative and keep your eyes peeled for interesting surfaces, paying close attention to funky mirrors, reflective glass windows, lakes and bodies of water—they could all be a fun canvas for a selfie!
That said, when it comes to the bathroom sefie, don’t. There are so many more beautiful backgrounds out there—why let those ugly bathroom stalls, hand dryers and towel racks creep into your shot. Now, if you happen to find yourself at the coolest bathroom you’ve ever seen (such as Sketch bar in London), there’s always room to make an exception. So, we’ll let this one slide…
Use your environment. There are plenty of times when you’re caught out in the moment without a tripod, so you’re forced to think on your feet. Creativity is key. Set the camera on a rock, a staircase, a ledge or a railing to create a tripod on the fly. On a hike, keep a lookout for big rocks, low tree branches, hillsides, signposts, or even the top of trash cans—it’s all fair game. At a restaurant, you can use the bar counter, or the top of a booth, or even pile up a stack of menus to give your camera an extra lift. Be creative and use what you’ve got. This is a great one for self-timer mode.
Ask a stranger. I suppose when you have to ask someone else to shoot your photo, it is no longer a selfie. But, when you’re all by your lonesome, you might need a helping hand to help get the shot. When it comes to strangers, target someone who has a nice camera around his or her neck—which is a good sign they either A) might know what they’re doing and B) will appreciate what it means to have a great photo. So, hopefully they will make your photo great! In other cases, you might just be lucky to find someone with a pulse. In that case, set them up for success. Position yourself in nice light, being mindful of the background. Tell them where to stand and where the shutter button is, and how to hold the camera with two hands. It doesn’t hurt to show them a sample pic of what you want in the shot as well, so they see how you want it framed. Even better—help a traveler out by taking their photo, positioning them exactly where you want to be in your photo. When you show them the shot you took, you have a beautiful example image to communicate what you’re after—and they score a great photo too! Now, all you need to do is trade spaces!
Now it’s time to let loose and start snapping! Whether you’re shooting photos or videos, take the time to add some selfies to the mix. Snap some solo or grab some friends. Pose, make faces, and shoot some candids. Get creative and get ready to love your selfie!
Emmy award winning travel video journalist Juliana Broste is always ready to capture the moment. She creates engaging, entertaining, inspiring travel video content for travel brands and media outlets. Her filmmaking adventures have taken her across the globe. Come along for the adventure and follow “TravelingJules” on: