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January 26, 2014

How to Take Better Selfies – Posing

If you’ve figured out lighting, angle, and distance, you’re on your way to a great selfie. Now you just need to strike the right pose.

We usually “pose” for photographs by smiling and looking straight at the camera. In the industry, we call these “camera aware” photos because it’s obvious the subject is aware of the camera. The last decade of wedding and portrait photography has moved to a more photojournalistic style with lots of candids or faux candids (couple looks lost in the moment even though the photographer has set up the shot).

I love to apply this same technique to selfies. It can make an average photo more complex and interesting by introducing the question: what is she thinking about?

Try looking away from the camera and experimenting with different facial expressions.

A smiling face turned away from the camera conveys confidence. It shows you don’t feel constrained by the “rules” of selfies. Plus, you’re smiling or laughing at something the camera can’t see, adding mystery and complexity to the photo.

Now that you’re comfortable moving away from the traditional “look at the lens and smile” approach, try adding in some props. Props may be objects, pets, or elements of your surroundings that help you tell a story through your photo.

The most interesting photos are always those that tell a story.

In the first photo below, I’m enjoying a calm morning with a cup of tea. In the second photo, I’m bundled up to go out and shovel the sidewalk. In the third photo, I’m on a road trip with our our dog.

Whether you’re telling a story, or just trying to create a more interesting photo, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Consider showing only part of yourself or using reflections for a double portrait. Below are two selfies that make you look twice.

The first photo uses a window reflection to create an interesting and balanced composition. Our eyes are naturally drawn to symmetry and patterns, and a reflection is an easy way to create that symmetry. The slight differences between the two faces also add visual interest: my eye is blocked by my hair on the left, but you can see my whole face in the reflection.

The second photo catches our eye with bright, contrasting colors and holds our attention through it’s implicit question: why is she wearing a mask? As it turns out, you can actually find the answer within the photo. I’m holding the phone up above my head so you can see the vacuum cleaner at my feet. I’m super allergic to dust, so I always try to cover my nose and mouth while I’m vacuuming (or I get Griffin to do it for me).

If you want to try out a new pose for your next selfie, try one of these ideas

1. Look away from the camera

2. Experiment with different facial expressions

3. Use props to tell a story

4. Look for reflections or ways to show only part of yourself.

Thanks for joining me as we explore the art of the selfie. Use your new-found knowledge wisely and never have a bad selfie again!

If you or someone you know is planning a wedding, check out this post on how to choose a great wedding photographer!

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