Category Archives: Selfie Series

How to Take a Good Selfie: Tips for Set-up

Riley & Pepere

So we’ve already established that sometimes a selfie is just necessary, right? If you haven’t already read last week’s post, go check it out! But it’s no fun at all, if the photo comes out lousy.

Here are my favorite tips and tricks to get yourself ready for a great selfie!

Check out the background

Running selfieBefore I turned off onto our driveway after my run, there were lots of places where I could have taken this shot, but there were also lots of other distracting things that I didn’t want to capture- other houses, mailboxes, street signs, pot holes and broken pavement. I opted for the dirt driveway. Why? It’s neutral in color. You can see the puddles in the background which add a little interest without being overly distracting and its a good reminder that I can run in the rain and still be ok with it when I get home. It sets the scene without getting in the way.

Where is the light?

The first thing to look out for is shadows. You don’t want harsh, unflattering shadows on your face. Try to avoid taking a shot on a bright, sunny day (opt for open shade, not an area right under a tree with dappled shade as that will cause pockets of light and dark which is equally frustrating). Look at what you see on your screen and unless the background is your main objective, start taking very tiny steps in a circle until you re-position yourself into better light.

SunglassesThis shot was taken on a very sunny day (hence the purchase of some new sunglasses). It took a little maneuvering to get a shot where the sunglasses didn’t cast shadows down on my face. But those 10 seconds of positioning will yield a much better image.

Sunlight in WinterSometimes in doing this, the sun will stream through in just right way and give you a really cool effect! Play around with it. Yes, this obscures half my face but I love it! Sunshine in wintertime is hard to come by! This is a rare gem I chose to celebrate.

Capture more than just your face: adjust your angle to tell more of the story

Shoes, Shawl BeerOn our trip to Portland I was enjoying the first fits of Spring and the opportunity to wear my new Sperry’s while still being wrapped in the warmth of my Tan House Brook shawl. Dan and I were on a brewery tour and as I looked down I was so happy with the scene, I realized this was something I wanted to capture. While the smile on my face was certainly there, this tells more of my story that day. New shoes, jeans + tee with my shawl and great beer. This is still ME just from another angle.

WalkingI’ve enjoyed posting about my runs on Instagram [What an awesome, motivated group we have there! Thank you!] and the point of these photos isn’t to share my face. It’s to share the story of me- in motion, in action, making progress. It’s my legs doing the real work. They deserve to be in the shot. Yes, that means you need to get creative with the angle, but it can definitely work.

Jen on the train

In this shot, I positioned myself at the very edge of the photo so you can see the length of the train car (and all those gloriously empty seats beside me). Your eye leads down from my face to my arm, over to my bag and down the row of seats. I’ve used this selfie to bring you into my world, into my commute home, my daily routine. Yes, I’m a part of that, but again, that’s not the whole story. The point is to capture me AND my natural environment.

Remember this when you’re wanting to share your selfies on Social Media. While your friends certainly want to see you- they probably also want to see where you are, what you’re doing, why you’re so excited to be there. Share those details when you can.

Ask a friend to play along

Jen + kidsLet’s face it, selfies are a lot more fun with other people! It can be a little tougher to get everyone in the shot, so move the phone or camera around until you can see everyone and don’t be afraid to squeeze in close. The good thing about selfies is that everyone can see if they’re in the shot- even the little ones. Tell them to make sure they can see their face and you should be good!

Jen + Riley

Go Ahead– Be Silly

Happy AnniversaryWhen Dan and I went away for our anniversary I wanted some shots of us together, but again, no personal photographer. He’s not especially fond of having his picture taken and he’s definitely not into selfies, so I just made light of it. We were in a reasonably upscale restaurant, at the bar waiting for a table. I whipped out the phone and said something like “let’s do this really quick” as if we were trying to get away with something! The ridiculousness of the whole thing had us giggling in no time. I took about 10 shots to get it right, but I love how well this captures the fun we had that night!

Crop to get what you wantDad & JenDad and I went to the Jason Aldean concert last summer. We had SO. MUCH. FUN! But there was no else there to capture the night for us, so it was up to me and the power of the selfie. I’m a righty and pressing the shutter with my left hand is often clumsy so you’ve got a bit more of my arm in the shot than is ideal.

Simple solution: Crop it down. Depending on what you’re using it for, a square crop is even more ideal and there was nothing of interest in that bottom portion of the photo, so all I removed was excess arm.

Dad Jen Crop Square

That’s better!

Still to come: how to make the most out of your phone when taking selfies and how to choose a flattering angle!

Until then, just get out there and practice! Remember, you can always delete the ones that don’t come out well. I do it all the time!

To Selfie or Not to Selfie?

2007 Nephew Selfie I take a lot of selfies. I do. I admit it. Is it something I’m necessarily proud of? Maybe not. Is it something I’m ashamed of? Definitely not. As a person who is the primary photographer in my life [and that of my family], if I didn’t take selfies there would be almost no photos of me ever.

Thus I began taking photos of my nephew and me just after he was born in 2007. We spent a couple hours together every Tuesday. I took a zillion photos of him and since babies grow and change so quickly at that age, at first I was content just to document that. But then I realized I was only capturing part of the story. Tuesdays were about the TWO of us. Not just him alone.  There were no other adults present, so it was selfie or nothing if I wanted to be able to scrapbook the story of these afternoons.

Reading Selfie

Since then selfies have exploded as social media has come into the forefront of our lives. We tweet. We post to Facebook. We Instagram. We share our lives with friends (and strangers), and a big part of that is sharing photos.

Selfie + kids


Let’s face it, seeing a photo to show you what your friend is up to is infinitely more interesting than hearing their description of it…especially when your friend is likely typing said status update on a cell phone and it’s filled with all sorts of interesting typos.

I go back and forth on how I feel about selfies though clearly I’m more in the “it’s cool” camp than not given my social media track record. Maybe this just a purely selfish venture but here are some great reasons you should take selfies:

  • Sometimes there’s no one else around. Just you and something cool that you want to share or just remember. If the “thing” itself is photo worthy then maybe a selfie isn’t required. But sometimes you just want/need to capture the fact that YOU were there.
  • Little kids can’t always be trusted with cell phones or cameras.  I love taking pictures of my nieces and nephews but sometimes they also like ME to be in some of the pics too. And quite honestly sometimes I like being in the shot with them. If there’s no other adult around and you’re trying to capture the fun of the moment, a tripod/timer situation just isn’t going to cut it (kids’ attention spans just aren’t that long), which leaves you only one other option- a selfie.Niece selfie!
  • Sometimes you have something so exciting you just want to share it now- that new outfit you put together but you’re running late for work. Selfie!Fashion Selfie
  • Having YOU in your photo albums is important. There are far fewer photos of my mom as compared to my dad, my brother and me in our family albums. Why? Because Mom was often behind the camera. I wish I had more photos of her. If she took selfies with my brother and me as kids I can promise you I’d treasure those!My brother & me (skiing selfie)
  • Because you can choose how you look! If your significant other, friend or kid takes your photo it can and often will be done from a very unflattering angle. But if you control it, you can fiddle until you get it where you want it! Totally within your control!Outfit Selfie

Next Time on the Selfie Series

In the next installation, by popular demand, I’ll give you some of my favorite tips to take a better selfie. It’s nearly as easy to take a good selfie as it is a bad one– if you know what you’re doing!