Stand Out in Your Selfies

Hey there! Kristin here for an important chat about taking better selfies.

What are selfies? Selfies are pictures that you take of yourself — usually with a camera phone. Sometimes they’re silly, sometimes they’re serious, but they’re definitely important — especially if you’re a memory-keeper.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of selfies — as a memory-keeper, documenting my life is one of my priorities and I don’t want to have to rely on other people to get pictures of myself. I don’t think I’m super photogenic, but over the years, I’ve found ways to get good shots of myself and incorporate them into my memory-keeping.

Making an effort to improve your selfies will make it much easier to document yourself and get your important stories told.

Here are a few ways I’ve improved my own selfies. Try them out and see what works best for you.

rukristin selfie

As always, the first thing to keep in mind are basic photography principles, which I’ve talked about here before. The more you improve your general photography skills, the better your selfies will become. Here are the two biggest factors for me.

1. Natural light – Be aware of your surroundings, try to get in the most natural, indirect light possible.  I’m not going to say always do this or never do that, because you can’t always get the perfect lighting conditions. See what works best for you and your style.

2. Composition – Also known as framing your photograph. The easiest way to improve your composition is to understand the rule of thirds. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board or a hashtag (#). The lines and the intersections are the main focal points. Try to place important objects on those lines & intersections.

The next step is to learn about your equipment. For more than 99% of my selfies, I use my iPhone 5s. It’s important that you become comfortable with your main camera — knowing what it can and can’t do. Chances are, if you’re going to be taking a lot of selfies, you’re going to be using a camera phone too.

Here are important things to keep in mind when using mobile phone cameras. 

1. Are you using the default camera or the front-facing camera?  – The front facing camera makes it very easy to see what you’re taking a picture of, especially useful for selfies, the drawback is that it is a lesser quality camera. The photos will be a smaller resolution and will not be as suited to printing as photos taken with the normal camera lens. Depending on your phone, your front-facing camera may be good enough quality to print small sized photos — I print 3×4 photos (with an iPhone 5s) all the time, but with my larger photos I usually stick to using the default camera. Give yours a try and see what works.

2. Take several shots – Just keep shooting. Sometimes you’re going to blink, sometimes you’re going to have a weird look, so don’t let all that hard work setting up the shot go to waste. There are even a few apps that take a bunch of pictures with just one click and let you choose the best one.

3. Use Technology. Make the most of the tech you have. I take almost all of my selfies with my iPhone and I’ve learned how to make it work for me and what I want to do. Remember, if you run your photographs through certain apps, they may render a lesser quality photo when saved to your camera roll.

  • TimerCam  – best app to take timed selfies. This is great for getting action shots, for when you need a wider angle, or for when you want to keep your hands free.
  • Instagram – best social media + sharing app, it also has a bunch of great filters (I’m addicted to Nashville).
  • Rhonna Designs  – best app to really decorate your photos. It’s like digital scrapbooking right there on your photo. Love this for adding a little bit of text or a cute graphic to my pictures.
  • PicTapGo – this is my go-to mobile photo editing program. It has a ton of options, and I think it makes my photos look the best that they can without going through the hassle of uploading them to the computer, running them through photoshop or lightroom and then printing them. I use it to edit almost all of my photos I take on my phone, including all the selfies.

4. Go Artsy. Sometimes it’s just not a day to take a picture of my face. Sometimes it’s raining, sometimes it’s a day where I’m overemotional, sometimes its a day where my skin is just blotchy and taking a picture of myself doesn’t make me happy. Whether it’s an emotional day, a rainy day, or just a day where your face isn’t cooperating, here are two awesome solutions for capturing yourself when you’re not really looking or feeling like the person you want to document.

  • It doesn’t have to be your face. Your shoes, your purse, your outfit, your view — those are all pictures of you. Documenting yourself through photos doesn’t always need to have your face front and center.
  • Go Black and White. If the lighting is off, if it’s overcast out, if you’re a little bit sunburnt — this can be a quick and easy solution. If you’re just not loving the lighting or the colors in your photo, add a black and white filter and see if that works better for you.

No matter what camera you use, there’s always one thing you can do to get better. 

Practice. It’s not the easy answer, but nothing worth doing is ever really that easy. The only guaranteed way to get better at taking selfies is to practice. Take lots of photos, screw up, make bad decisions — learn from them, and get better.

By practicing, you’ll not only get better at taking selfies in general, but you’ll pick up habits that will help your overall photography skills as well. Soon you’ll know what lighting looks best, you’ll know the best angles to hold your camera, you’ll know what apps you like to use — and best of all, you’ll have a million more photographs to use in your memory-keeping.

Practice makes perfect.

Kristin is a millennial storyteller who loves documenting her everyday-life and awesome adventures. As the owner of rukristin papercrafts, a venue to share information and inspiration on creative ways to tell your story; she encourages others to dream bigfind their voice, and be the author of their own adventure. An introvert who loves community, she loves online friends — drop her a line on twitterinstagram, or facebook and follow along with her story at


April 22, 2014
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