Viewing entries tagged
the perfect selfie

How to Take a Selfie Portrait

By Gillian Armour, Certified Image Professional Selfie One of my clients, a very beautiful social creature, sent me a panicky text the other day. “Help!” She texted. “They (un-named entity) are interviewing me and I need a headshot. How do I take a good ‘selfie’?” Now, I have been in this business for a long time and get requests from left field all the time but this was a new one. It got me thinking; I really should have a tutorial about taking the perfect ‘selfie’. And that’s what today’s post is about.

SELFIE (which by the way just made it into the Oxford dictionary)

Defined as “a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand held digital camera or camera phone.” Wikipedia

We have all seen them, we have all taken one (usually multiple times to get just the right one). However most of us are not professional photographers and therefore our selfies just don’t show us at our best. Selfies are an important part of how we interact online these days. Dating sites, networking sites, professional headshots etc. all require us to put our best face forward. As an image consultant I am always chanting the mantra “your first impression should be the best impression.” Since it is my job to make sure clients look their best, here is my advice and a ten step list for getting the best selfie possible.

Note – these instructions are for taking a professional shot (not a ‘goofy, gee-I-love-myself-don’t-I-Iook-hot’ photo! Selfies should not take the place of a really professional headshot but are for the instant, gotta’ have a photo now situation like my clients above.

The following tips apply to portraits taken while standing in front of a mirror with a digital camera, or cellphone pointing forward (with an iPhone you can look into the phone and use the built in reverse-lens capability to take the snap.

1) Wear your best colors – if you know them. If you don’t know then choose a universal color that flatters and looks good on camera – coral, aqua, copper. Do your makeup (for guys, get groomed) and adjust your hair to its most flattering. 2) Head shot only – not full body. A selfie is a headshot that shows you at your best. 3) Make eye contact with the center of the camera lens. Smile with your eyes while thinking about something really fabulous (yes, mood does translate through the eyes and to the viewer). Don’t be shy or embarrassed about “modeling” for the camera; just don’t over-do the posing. The personality of a selfie should be fun, natural, authentic and a little quirky or irreverent. Too posy and you risk looking like you took a photo of yourself. 4) Extend your arm out (closer for a close up but not too close) and hold the camera 8 to 12 inches above the top of your head. 5) Lighting – find a natural light, not too bright, not fluorescent, but a natural light and turn your face toward it. 6) While looking in the mirror (or reverse camera angle on iPhones) find your best “side” – your face does have a better side so practice taking a photo with your face angled to the left and then one angled to the right and see which looks better. 7) Now you are ready to find your angles. Drop your shoulders and sit (or stand) up straight. This will make your neck long. While making eye contact with the center of the lens, drop your chin down toward your chest slightly. Hold your shoulders back and look up at the camera extended in front of you. At the same time press your tongue into the top of your mouth (this engages the neck muscles and helps take away any chin action you might have going on). 8) Smile big, or, if you are shy about your smile or want a more conservative shot, keep the smile slight but, either way, THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS and smile through your eyes. And, keep your lips relaxed. Don’t do a pout; you are not posing for a high school year book! 9) Take multiples and then choose the best one. Save it! 10) Most camera phones have edit features and you can also upload to your desktop and edit.

This may seem like a lot of work for one great photo but once you do a selfie correctly you will have no problem doing many the right way. Practice these ten steps until you have perfected the art of the selfie!

Technical tips:  

  1. Do not photograph with the sun or light behind you.
  2. If you are taking a selfie at night, or in a dark place, turn on your flash. There is always a risk of getting “red eye” when using flash so opt for a natural light selfie when possible.

A more complete video tutorial of these instructions is coming soon.

Check out all our courses at Resources:

Also take a peak at Wikicommons for over 100 examples of good, bad and indifferent selfies.

©Gillian Armour, AICI CIP