Some days I’m sitting innocently on the couch, watching whatever TV show is queued up next on my Netflix, and my morale is low but the light in my new apartment is exceptional. That’s when the craving hits me—why not utilize the sunshine and take a selfie? On such lazy afternoons, boredom gives way to a yearning for likes. If this sounds like a familiar scene, you’re not alone (#nojudgement).
But after more days like this than I’d like to admit, I realized my selfies need help, and we have an entire network of influencers available for advice. That, plus tips from celebrities and models plastered all over the Internet. So what’s a girl to do? Well, you guessed it, I began to do some research on that very same couch—keeping my eye out for the most helpful tips for reaching selfie nirvana. Plus, I tapped bloggers and editors for their sage advice. The results are astounding and the changes are subtle, yet yield big results (aka lots o’ likes).
Keep reading for a comprehensive guide on how to become more photogenic when the mood to selfie takes over.
1. Lighting is key.
The most prevalent tip I received was about finding good light. It's without a doubt the most important factor to a great photograph—especially of your beautiful face!
Kimberly Pesch of Eat Sleep Wear instructs, "I think the best part of a selfie (or any photo for that matter) is great lighting. If Tyra has taught us something, it's to find your light. Find your glow and go for it. Natural light is always the best. Find a window, let the light fill your face, and snap away."
Similarly, Michelle Phan told Allure, "Having nice, natural sunlight streaming in will make for a good selfie. Another thing I do is take a piece of white paper and hold it underneath my chin, which creates a natural bounce of light, illuminates the face, and also reduces the double-chin effect."
Next, I spoke to Danielle Prescod, managing editor of Obsessee (who boasts 20K followers on Instagram and a ton of glorious selfies). She agrees: "Light is obviously very, very important. I like to take selfies in the morning by my window with natural light. Selfies at night are very tricky. I have to turn on every single light in my room and even still, I rarely post those because the way the light is tinted makes everything look yellow and kind of sad."
Gigi Hadid also has also attributed good lighting to her most popular selfies. She told Vogue, "When you’re outside, it's always good to be in a sunny place but in the shade facing the light so you’re not overexposed.”
2. Know your angles.
It's easy to scoff at Ariana Grande for refusing to show the right side of her face. But when it comes to snapping a great picture, knowing your angles is paramount. Prescod says, "I part my hair on the right, so I tend to angle my face to the side that has more hair. My sister has a middle part, so she likes to do things straight on." She adds, "Angling the camera so it's pointing down at you helps slim everything, if you are going for a shot of your whole body. It’s like distorting your body without an app, but that’s kind of silly. If I am trying to shoot my necklace or makeup, shooting from below helps. If I'm shooting my outfit, shooting from above helps to get more in the frame."
3. Crop when necessary.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a good selfie is the way it's cropped. What's in the background? Would a square cut better frame your face? Kim Kardashian was famously mocked for cutting her daughter out of an image she posted online. But we get it—for a good selfie, sometimes you have to take drastic measures. Kardashian weighs in: "A lot has to do with how your crop it," she explained to Jimmy Kimmel. "If you don't like something on your body, you just crop it."
4. Use an app.
There are a ton of apps out there (most of which are too confusing for me to navigate, so if you know how to edit photos correctly, I salute you), but Prescod only uses the filters on Instagram. "I don’t have time to orchestrate selfies, then alter them in apps, and then post them to Instagram. I would literally have no friends." She does, however, have another trick up her sleeve. "My selfie secret weapon is my selfie phone. I have an entirely other phone solely dedicated to taking selfies. This is handy since I take one daily. My selfie phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 ($696). The camera is AMAZING. People don’t believe in its power until I show them."
Lauren Valenti of Marie Claire gave some sage advice as well. It's so simple, but I never thought about the actual lens when taking a picture. She mused, "My first step for selfies, or any photo really, is wiping off the lens so the photo isn't clouded. This will make it crisper and easier to edit!" Genius. "Editing wise," she added, "I almost always increase the brightness or highlight, but never to the point that the photo looks washed out. For spot retouching and dodging/burning, I use Snapseed. For richer color or more fluidity in the grid view, I usually will kick things up just a notch or two in VSCO. I always want an image to be bright, clean, balanced, and (relatively) naturally feeling."
5. Find your good side.
Grasie Mercedes of Style Me Grasie says a great selfie is all about confidence—but light and angles definitely help, too. "I have to be in the mood to take a selfie for it to come out well. If I force it just to post an Instagram, I end up taking a hundred photos and none of them will look good! If I'm feeling pretty and ready to party; that's usually when my selfies are their best." She explains, "How you hold your phone is also very important, so move it around until you find your good side."
6. Show off your signature face.
Kardashian makes use of the magical powers that come along with a good duck face. "I love it because it gives you cheekbones," she said in an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. She continued with a laugh, "Though it does make people mad."
Prescod echoes a similar sentiment. "Listen, I always say this: Pick your face and stick to it. This is something I learned from an excessive and exceedingly creepy amount of research on Kim Kardashian. She has a single face, and that is it. So I learned to do the same. I never get nervous and try to change my face, because I already know what works. I do a small smile so I don’t look mean, but also not too happy."
Just like Tyra, Valenti is a fan of using her eyes to her advantage: "As far as posing and angles, I think everyone has their own preferences for what's flattering. Personally, I'm a big fan of the smize."
7. When all else fails, have an expert take the picture.
The truth of it is, some people just have an innate sensibility about these things. They can anticipate good lighting on a whim and find angles you didn't even know existed. I can snap a pretty good selfie, but photos that have garnered the most interaction on my Instagram were taken by someone who really understands it all—and cares just as much as I do. (This one was taken by selfie queen Carly Cardellino of Cosmopolitan). So when you can't seem to get it right, find a good friend who knows better, and pose your butt off.
Now that you've learned how to take a top-notch selfie, read our best tips on how to trick your co-workers into thinking you're not hungover.