10 Selfie Tips To Step Up Your Instagram Game

by Dacy Knight

June 21 marks National Selfie Day (no, really), so what better way to celebrate than by perfecting your skills with these selfie tips and upping your Instagram game? In the digital age, taking a selfie is almost as requisite as texting or navigating social media. Celebrities regularly bespeckle their Instagram accounts with perfectly lit, flawless selfies, giving onlookers a private glimpse into their quotidian realities. Armed with the same phones, filters, and apps (though perhaps lacking in exotic locales and hair and makeup teams), us regular folk are attempting to follow suit.

Even if you're not big into documenting your life with the artifacts of autonomous photo shoots of your own visage or daily style inspiration (I personally prefer inundating my Instagram followers with hi-res photos of everything I eat), there's no day like today to shamelessly give in to the trend that's taking the world by storm, one Instagram post at a time. Take a cue from the stars and experiment with (and immortalize) your existence in the new media world with a little well-deserved me-time in honor of National Selfie Day. At the very least, study up on these tried and tested techniques to try out whenever you secretly snap your next self-portrait.

1. Find The Perfect Lighting

The right lighting can do wonders for your selfie, and Instagram's most followed person Selena Gomez knows it. If snapping indoors, fluorescent lights are the enemy, and it's suggested to instead use natural, indirect light from a window. You can even get extra crafty and hold a white paper beneath your face to catch and bounce the light, like they do with reflectors in professional photo shoots. Even holding up a white piece of paper or napkin near your face (but far enough away so you can crop it out later) will actually neutralize the flash of the camera.

If outside, try shooting with the sun directly behind you, providing you with a super flattering ethereal glow. The golden hour for outdoor photos is right before sunset, when the light is low and free from harsh rays. The natural sunlight will soften your features and brighten your skin. Avoid flash whenever you can, and skip the hassle of forehead glare and red-eye.

2. Consider Your Background

If the background is going to show in the shot, make sure it adds to the photo and doesn't detract from it. If the focus is on you, when you're showing off a new lipstick or finally perfect that cat eyeliner, keep the background simple. Use either natural foliage or a backdrop, like a wall, that isn't too busy. Outdoor backdrops are great (and you can benefit from the natural lighting), and blossoming flowers and scenic views provide enough to keep things exciting without stealing the show. The Grand Canyon is gorgeous in this snap, but we're still in complete awe of Kaia Gerber's utterly serene expression and radiant skin. If you're shooting at home, definitely make sure there isn't anything embarrassing captured in the shot, like your dirty dishes or your drying underthings.

3. Know Your Angles

Take a cue from America's Next Top Model and figure out which angles work best for you. Experiment with multiple photos trying out different poses and angles and see what works. As a general rule, tilting one's head down promises more flattering results. Avoid staring straight-on into the camera. Instead, turn your head a few degrees to the right or left, exude confidence, then get ready to slay like Beyoncé.

4. Hold Your Camera Above Your Head

Kim Kardashian has been a vocal proponent of holding the camera higher than face level when snapping selfies. The aerial angle is extremely flattering for facial features, highlighting the cheekbones and making the eyes appear larger, and also brings attention to one's outfit and, um, décolletage.

5. Strike A Pose

If it's your outfit you want to show off, get in front of a mirror and strike a pose. Posing solo might feel unnatural at first, but let loose, snap a few, and have fun. Again it's important to know your angles, so play around with different poses and choose your best later, learning what looks best on you.

6. Avoid Clichés

Kylie Jenner hilariously posted this MySpace-age throwback selfie to celebrate reaching 55 million followers. The seasoned selfie-taker has come a long way since she threw up a cat paw and left half her arm still in the picture. As a rule of thumb, profile picture antics from the early days of social media should be avoided at all costs. You have nothing to gain by succumbing to duck lips, overenthusiastic winks, or throwing up fake gang signs.

7. Do Something Fun

Selfies don't have to be super serious to be great. If snapping a solo shot makes you feel uncomfortable, grab a friend. If there's a reason for the selfie, besides showing everyone how great you look, even better. Maybe you're giving a peek into what it's like when you're getting ready like BFFs Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss finishing off their hair and makeup while simultaneously partaking in a Motown dance party.

8. Perfect Your Pic With The Right Filters And Apps

With all the Instagram filters and photo editing apps at our disposal, deciding what to do to our selfies in post-production can be daunting. The key here is moderation is best. Filters can give dreamy effects to photos, but it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Instagram allows you do dial down filters so you can achieve the perfect amount of Valencia or Amaro. You can also fine-tune every other adjustment on a gradient as well, so use this to your advantage and find the perfect balance. Explore the various app options to take your photos to the next level, but again, be sure not to overdo it by getting overzealous with the editing.

9. Be Yourself

Simply be yourself. If you're taking a selfie, own it. Show the world who you are and let your best self radiate through. Selfies are beautiful when they capture genuine moments of emotion and celebrate all you have to be proud of and everything you want to share. If you try too hard to achieve a result that isn't naturally you, it will come across as inauthentic and try-hard. This doesn't mean you can't be adventurous and try on new looks, but make sure you're letting yourself shine, not chasing after Instagram likes.

10. Don't Overthink It, Just Have Fun

You could study up all day on how to take the perfect selfie, but the best way to do it is to just go at it and have a great time. Just as your beauty will shine through most when you're being natural and honest, your snaps will radiate if you're at ease and enjoying yourself. Don't overthink the process. Just get out there and have fun.

Images: Selenagomez, Kaiagerber, Beyonce, Kimkardashian, Candicehuffine, Kyliejenner, Taylorswift, Chrissyteigen, Sofiavergara, Theashleygraham/Instagram