Exposed! :: Tips for Taking a Selfie

Selfies (self portraits) have become hot since Facebook met iPhones. Hipsters and the more average among us are turning cameras on themselves… with varying degrees of success.

In this month’s version of Exposed! we offer tips for better Selfies.

Selfie - self portraits

Selfie – self portraits

Below are some tips for better self portraits:

1. Use a wide angle lens
Most smart phones have wide angle lenses built in but if you are shooting with zoom options, crank it to WIDE angle. You’re more likely to get yourself in a better position.

2. Get close.
Being too small in the photo means you’ll likely get lost amongst competing elements. Too close, though, and you’ll exceed the camera’s minimum focusing distance and come out blurry due to lack of focus. Most phone selfies are done at arm’s length – which is a good starting point. Try a little closer…

Selfie - self portraits

Get Closer!

3. Shoot in BRIGHT light.
Because of technical limitations your camera may resort to using SLOW shutter speeds to let enough light into the camera.

So what?

“Slow shutter speeds” = “motion blur” that’ll look like the photo is out of focus. That’s bad. The photo may actually be in focus but blurry because the slow shutter allows slight movement in the photo.
Read about the fine elements of blurry photos.

The easy fix is to shoot a selfie outside on bright days.
Built in flashes are bad… and I am being generous.

Selfie - self portrait

Selfie – Low light blurred Selfie – shot inside.

4. Keep your Background Clean
You don’t want to get lost in the background noise of other people, buildings, etc. You want to make sure it’s obvious YOU are the centre of attention – after all, it’s YOUR Selfie.

There’s an easy way to make sure you stand out – lower the camera to get lots of sky behind you. Easy.

You can often see how you look, compositionally, by the reflection on your lens or camera.

Clean backgrounds go a long way to help make you look good.

5. Remember to Smile
In 20 years of shooting I’ve often used Selfies to test my assignment shot. And in most of those shots I  look less than approachable as I intently prepare for my shoot… not what you want!

Self Portrait

Assignment test “Selfie.”

Pasting a plastic smile on your face is worse. Yuck.

Make yourself look your best by producing a Selfie while you’re actually having fun – whatever that means for you…
• eating ice cream?
• playing with your dog?
• skiing with friends?
… these are all things that make ME smile. What YOU do doesn’t matter, what does matter is your reaction to your fun – a glowing, natural smile.

While starting work as a stock photographer (mid 90’s) I was advised to get more people in my pictures. In those days I worked as a one person show. And the easiest way to add people to my photos was to be in them myself! I worked as photographer, director and ‘talent,’ often photographing myself on skis, skateboards, driving or canoeing.

Selfie - self portrait

An early stock “Selfie.” That’s me in the canoe taking my own photo… it was an elaborate canoe/photo rig!

My best selling shot ($32,000) was a selfie – so I was doing something right!

For our Online Photo Program and I am constantly producing quick, new content and, like my stock shooting days I often resort to selfies to make the point.

They can be fun, quick and easy if you follow these rules…

Homework (+ WIN a membership in our Online Photo Program)
Pick up your closest camera and send us your selfie. RIGHT NOW!
If your Selfie is chosen to be posted on our blog, you’ll receive the free 3 month membership.

Final Frame
Take Selfies,
Have fun!