Whether you’re travelling alone or simply want to take a great self-portrait, learning how to take pictures of yourself is a useful skill.
All the top Instagrammers and influencers know how to take great photos of themselves, all the while looking natural.
This is key – you don’t want your self-portraits to come across as too ‘forced’.
The end result should look like you had a professional photographer right there with you, taking all your amazing photos!
In this guide, you’ll learn 11 top tips for getting the best photos of yourself with a phone when you’re on your own.
Table of Contents
11 Tips for Taking Great Pictures of Yourself When Alone
1. Use a tripod
Using a tripod is the first step to improving your own photos. This is mainly for three reasons.
First, it allows you to stand further away from the camera. You’re forced to use a wide-angle lens when you’re too close. This type of lens, at such a close distance, distorts your facial features.
Many think you only need a tripod if you’re using a normal camera. However, you can use a phone tripod if you’re using a camera phone.
If this is the case, you can also use a selfie stick. This will undoubtedly help with solving the distance. Unfortunately, selfie sticks can be a bit limiting as you still have to hold them with one hand.
This brings me to the second advantage of the tripod. It gives you all the freedom to experiment with poses and composition.
The third reason to use a tripod applies mainly if you’re shooting in low light. You need a fast shutter speed when you hold the camera with your hands.
If not, you might end up with a blurry photo. A tripod holds the camera still, allowing you to slow down the shutter speed a few stops.
2. Use a remote shutter
We already mentioned that you should be further away from your camera to take better pictures. This means you need to find a way to press the shutter button.
An easy way to do it is by using the self-timer. However, this causes you to rush and doesn’t give you a chance to get into the pose you want.
So, the best solution is to get a remote trigger. You can find wired or wireless remotes for your camera.
For self-photography, I recommend working wirelessly.
A handy Bluetooth remote will let you fire your camera remotely without constraints. It will also save you the trouble of deleting the wire in post-processing.
3. Find a place with good light
You need to find the best spot to take photos with natural light.
When working indoors, the best light is next to the window. Try to avoid the times when direct sunlight comes through the window. This would create unflattering shadows.
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Try to find shade or work on a cloudy day for outdoor pictures. This will keep the light soft and even.
You can also take awesome photos around the sunrise and sunset. In general, professional photographers love to take photos during the golden hour.
4. Consider buying a flash or LED light
Often the ambient light isn’t enough to take good pictures of yourself. Using an external light makes all the difference in taking nice photos.
Try to avoid the built-in flash of your camera or phone. This can do more harm than good in most cases. Instead, invest in a flash or a LED lamp.
You can find ring lights at very affordable prices on Amazon. These cast a very flattering, soft, even light for a self-portrait. Plus, you can use them with phones or cameras.
If you want a more professional setup. Let’s say you’re an influencer, and you often take your own Instagram photos. You may consider a lighting kit.
Having multiple lamps allows you to experiment to create your own style. It’s also helpful to do more lighting tweaks until everything looks just the way you want.
Keep in mind that continuous lights, such as LED lamps, work well with cameras and smartphones. However, to use flashes and strobes, you need an actual camera.
When you’re traveling solo, you can still use artificial light. You can buy a Speedlight or a flashgun for your camera. I’d suggest you get a softbox or a diffuser for it too. This will be more flattering.
If you do smartphone photography, you should get a led lamp that connects to your phone.
- Read more: What is the best on-camera LED light?
5. Find your most flattering angle
Have you noticed that stars and models often face the same way in their pictures? That’s because they know their angles.
We all have a more flattering angle. Often, the left side is more photogenic. Some research says that it’s because it shows our emotions. It’s not carved in stone, though. Your best side could be the right side.
Not just that, the angle of the head can have a big impact on the way you look. For example, if you put your chin up too high, you can look snobbish. Instead, the chin down may create a double chin.
To learn how to take good pictures, you need to know your best angle. You can practice using a mirror, but it’s better if you take a few photos. Making a video can be helpful too.
Try turning to both sides, tilting your head differently, etc. Even small changes can make a big difference.
6. Learn how to pose
Unless you’re a professional model, the camera makes everyone feel weird. So, don’t worry if posing to take photos of yourself is difficult at first.
The key to posing, like anything else, is practice. The best thing about self-portraits is that you’re alone. Nobody is there to judge you, and nobody needs to see the pictures you don’t like.
So, practice natural poses. You don’t need to do any sexy poses or things that don’t make you feel comfortable. You can take the same photo repeatedly until you feel confident and relaxed.
Keep in mind that the best pose for one person may not be suitable for another one. You need to find the ones that work for you.
There are a few tips that help everyone to take good pictures. First, keep a good posture. Whether sitting or standing, keep your shoulders away from your ears and your back straight.
Also, try turning away from the camera at about 45 degrees. This is usually a good angle for most people.
- Read more: How to pose for pictures like a model
7. Experiment with the camera angle
Moving your head and body isn’t the only way to take good photos. You can also experiment by moving the camera to find the best angle.
You’ve probably seen that many people take selfies by holding their phones above their heads. This helps you to take a good picture because it slims the body.
However, depending on the camera lens, it may distort the facial features. Using this angle is better if you’re using a selfie stick.
It’s also not the best angle to elongate your body. In this case, having the camera at a lower angle is better.
To avoid distortions, keeping the camera at waist level is best. You can use this as a starting point and move or tilt the camera slightly until you find the position that you like.
- Read more: How to use different angles in photography
8. Use the flip screen
Many mirrorless and DSLR cameras have a back screen that you can flip. You can use this to take good pictures of yourself.
This allows you to find natural feeling poses and check your facial expression. You can also improve the composition before you take the photo.
If you use a phone camera for taking pictures, you can use the frontal one. In most cases, the back camera has better image quality.
So, you can get ready while you can see yourself, then switch phone cameras to use the one with a better resolution.
Alternatively, you can have a mirror behind the camera. This isn’t the best solution because it only helps with the posing. But you can’t check the composition, which can be critical for a close-up shot, for example.
9. Take multiple photos
For every good picture an influencer posts, there are a million test selfies they took before.
It’s very difficult to get the best shot on the first try. So, whenever you’re taking photos of yourself, remember to take a lot.
Start with one pose and make a few variations. Move your arm to different positions, tilt your head, and then try a serious face and a smiling photo. Then, move on to the next pose and do the same.
By the end, you’ll have many images to choose from. That’s how you can post good photos every time – not by publishing the first one you took.
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10. Learn to use the camera properly
Whether you use a phone or camera, you need to learn how to use it properly to take better photos.
Taking photos with the camera in auto-mode can only get you so far. To get the desired results, you need to control the camera settings.
If you don’t feel confident, start by switching from auto to portrait mode. This way, the camera is still in control. However, by knowing what the subject is, it can make better decisions.
The portrait setting in most cameras uses a wide aperture. This way, the subject is in sharp focus, and it blurs the background. This camera setting is also available on many phones.
Once you start to know your camera, you can move on to semi-automatic modes and eventually to manual.
If you’re using your phone, you can look for a camera app that allows you to adjust the settings.
- Read more: Essential camera settings for beginners
11. Edit your photos
Editing is the final step for a successful self-portrait photo session.
There are many free and paid image editing tools you can use for this. The one you choose depends on your budget and your skill level.
If you edit photos on your computer, these are some of the most popular choices:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Luminar Neo
- DxO PhotoLab
Instead, using your phone means you have many photo editing apps to choose from. Here are some popular ones:
- Lightroom Mobile
- Adobe Photoshop Express
Some apps specialise in selfie and portrait retouching. Using them, you can edit your photos with just a few taps.
- Adobe Fix
I hope this article showed you how to take pictures of yourself that you really love.
Thanks to smartphone photography, we take more photos than ever before. However, taking a good selfie or self-portrait is not easy.
Still, we can all benefit from learning how to do it. Maybe it’s just to make some lovely memories when traveling solo.
Perhaps it is to promote your business on your Instagram account.
Whatever the reason, you might need to take photos of yourself that look like they were made by a professional.
Once you’ve nailed all the technical issues, it’s important that you find your creative style.
You can analyse the photos of models and influencers that you follow. Understand why you like them, and try to apply them in your pictures.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips and tricks to take good pictures of yourself. We’d love to hear from you!