What if Taking Selfies Is Good For You?
If I told you taking selfies helped me improve my confidence, get braver and learn to love myself would you believe me?
A question that comes up and time and time again whenever I do a Q&A is “how do you have the confidence to take photos of yourself?” and well, the short answer is “practice, darling!” but it’s actually a lot more in depth than that.
Whilst practice is a lot of it, as you eventually just get used to seeing your face that you almost dissociate from it, a big part of me being confident taking selfies actually comes from me gaining confidence in myself.
As a teenager, I wasn’t confident at all. I was SUPER quiet and would do anything to not be the centre of attention. I would never raise my voice or stand up from myself, and would only wear skinny jeans and plain tops to avoid standing out and give someone a reason to talk about me. I wanted nothing more than to fade into the background. And my selfies were nothing more than just me taking pictures of myself through the front camera of my phone, showing nothing more than my face and my shoulders. And other people were definitely not taking photos of me. Absolutely no way.
And to be honest, a lot of my insecurities went away as soon as I left secondary school and sixth form and started finding myself. I left people behind that I realised weren’t making me feel good about myself, and I truly believe that I started to blossom in my early twenties. My confidence in myself grew, and in turn, my confidence in taking selfies grew too.
However, it definitely wasn’t a process that happened overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning all of a sudden super confident in taking portraits of myself and knew all of my best angles and had all of the answers. It was years and years in the making. And I know I’m going to be repeating this a lot in this post, but time truly is your best friend when it comes to confidence. It isn’t something you can rush, and you have to take it at your own pace.
For some people, it really does come naturally and that’s amazing, I wish I was one of those people. But for others, not so much. And that’s why I’ve decided to put a little list together of how I gained confidence taking selfies, because let me tell you, for me it really was a process!
It’s a bit like a which comes first, the chicken or the egg question. Do you take good selfies because you feel confident or does taking good selfies make you feel more confident?
I think it’s both however, what I will say is that seeing yourself on camera is confronting for sure. Seeing yourself on camera again and again and again gets less confronting. Instead of seeing your double chin, you realise that pose just wasn’t your best angle, instead of thinking how awful you look you realise that dress wasn’t right for that photo, instead of thinking you look disgusting you realise your face wasn’t relaxed.
You start to see selfies for what they really are, a set up shot, not reality. You start to understand beauty really does shine from within, it really is all in the eyes and it’s all about working those angels, baby!
It’s not really about how you look it’s about how you work it! As Rue Paul says “we are all born naked and the rest is drag”. And it really is everything you see is constructed.
I think knowing this allows you to be gentler on yourself, get less triggered by the perfect pictures of women in magazines and realise the only difference between you and that beautiful unobtainable image is good makeup and lots of photoshop.
There is honestly something cathartic about the selfie taking process that really is freeing. A feeling I really do feel more women need to experience.
So how do you get comfortable enough to start the process? Here are my tips to get you started.
1 One Step at a Time
When I first started my account, I’m talking years and years back when I first started my journey on Instagram, I didn’t show my full face, and sometimes, I didn’t show my face at all and just used my hands or my feet. Now, this may seem a bit counter productive at first but this actually taught me a very valuable lesson. This taught me how to pose my hands.
I don’t think people realise how important hands are in taking portraits. Hands are very expressive, and the way your hands look can really make or break a photo. There’s been so many times where I haven’t posted a photo just because I don’t like the way my hands are. Your hands play a huge part in telling a story of a photo.
The same with legs. If my legs aren’t posed right in a photo, I’m not posting it. They can sometimes be the best, and only, prop that you have to work with, so you have to know how to pose them.
Furthermore, not showing my full face on camera really helped me get comfortable being in front of a lens. It was a different style of selfie taking that I wasn’t used to and can be super overwhelming and intimidating at first! I found that focussing on my hands and feet without having to bring my face into it was a great starting point so I didn’t get so overwhelmed.
2 Practise Taking Selfies in Front of the Mirror
This is something I still do! Practising in front of a mirror will really help you get a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and also gets you more comfortable with how you look. I always look at inspiration for poses on Pinterest and then see if they work for me in a mirror. Not every pose is going to work for everyone, that’s just how it is. But practising in front of a mirror will mean you spend less time trying to get the right pose in front of the camera.
3 Know Your Angles
This is something that comes with practise. The vast majority of us have a favourite side of our face, or a side which we think looks better – use it! You will feel a lot better about yourself! With time and practise, you will soon find your own ways to make a selfie look its best, whether it be a certain angle you have your head, a certain way your place your lips, a certain look in your eyes… Knowing your angles and what angles make you look your best is super important in loving the selfies that you take.
4 Find Poses that Make You Feel Most Like Yourself
Everybody has a different way they like to pose and pose in a way that makes them feel comfortable. When I say comfortable, I don’t mean comfortable physically, as in my experience the best poses are often super uncomfortable to be in, but I mean emotionally. You have to feel like yourself, and this requires some experimentation.
Through the years, I’ve learnt that I’m not comfortable doing ‘fun’ poses. You know the ones I mean, the ones where your body takes up a lot of space and you look super happy to be there. I call these extroverted poses. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these poses, they are absolutely perfect for the right person. But they just aren’t me. I’m very introverted, so me doing the type of poses that require a lot of extroverted expression just make me feel super uncomfortable and icky. Mum has asked me to do some of these types of poses in the past and I’ve just flat out said “no”.
The truth is, if you’re not comfortable taking the selfie, it will translate into the photo. Awkwardness defies the laws of physics, and the people looking at the photo will be able to feel your awkwardness. On top of that, you won’t end up liking the photo anyway as you will look back on it and remember how horrible you felt taking it.
For me, the poses that I like doing are quiet and ethereal. I’m not overly expressive, and they’re very dainty. I make use of my hands to create angles, and my poses are, overall, very introverted. Even when I’m cosplaying a villain.
This is going to sound super weird, but whenever I’m posing I’m constantly thinking “okay, how would a fairy pose?” I know, I know. It sounds super weird but it honestly works. It can be applied to everything!
5 Know Where to Look
When people think of taking a selfie, they often think of looking directly into the camera and that doesn’t have to be the case at all. In fact, for most of my photos, I’m not actually looking at the camera. You may not have noticed it before, but you won’t be able to unsee it now. And this is entirely intentional.
For one thing, I find that not looking directly into the camera really helps with storytelling. It helps provoke that feeling of capturing a moment in time, of capturing a moment that’s happening right now, like it’s candid and the camera isn’t actually there.
It also helps add a lot of mystery to the photo. There’s been a number of times where I’ve shown a photo to my Dad and he’s said the photo is good because it makes him wonder what I’m looking at off camera.
And 100% of the time, I’m not looking at anything in particular, but that’s the point. I want people to look at my photos and wonder what else is going on in them, what’s caught my attention, or what I’m looking at. That’s what good storytelling is.
I also don’t particularly like the look of a photo when I’m looking directly at the camera, it feels like I’m breaking the fourth wall in a TV series, and can often contribute to making a photo look super awkward.
Of course, that isn’t always the case. In some of my close up portraits, I will look directly at the camera. Looking directly at the camera can be super powerful when a photo doesn’t have a set up as it instantly makes the photo more interesting. That’s why it’s super important to know where to look in a photo.
6 The Outfit when taking seflies is Everything
Trust me, it is. When I’m feeling myself, I’m more likely to pose a lot better. There’s a reason that some of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken have been themed photos, it’s largely down to what I’m wearing!
When you feel like you look amazing, then that feeling will translate into the photo.
Clothing is also a really great prop and is super helpful for storytelling. Don’t think a photo is interesting enough? Add a cool piece of clothing.
Clothing is also really important if storytelling is the main objective of the photo. If you’re wanting to create a really whimsical, magical photo, then wearing jeans probably isn’t the best option.
“What will I wear?” is one of the first questions that comes into my head when I have a concept for a photo idea. Clothing can be what takes a photo from looking “meh” to having that wow factor. It really does make a difference!
7 Research, Research, Research!
Pretty much my answer to everything is research. A great way to look for posing inspiration is Pinterest – it literally has everything. Whatever vibe that you’re going for, you will find something on Pinterest.
Whilst Pinterest is great for inspiration, I would never recommend directly copying a pose that you have seen. In the past there have been times where I’ve tried to copy a certain pose, but it just doesn’t work and ends up looking weird. That’s because it’s SO SO hard to copy something perfectly. You can never really tell how they have their body, and also people’s mannerisms are different. Poses are like clothing, what looks good one some people may not look good on someone else.
The best way to do research is to take inspiration from a pose and make it your own in some way.
8 Different Lenses Make Your Body Look Different
You’ve probably seen those videos of people taking the same photo of the same person, but just switching out the different lenses. If you know what I’m talking about, you will know how dramatically a face shape can change!
I always shoot on a wide angle lens because I like the effect it has, but you do have to be careful as it can sometimes warp things when you don’t want it to. Fine if it is intention, but there have been times where I’ve made my arm look HUGE or my feet look super long people I’ve had them too close to the camera. 35mm lenses and 50mm lenses are great starting points for lenses!
9 Don’t Take it Too Seriously
There’s going to be times where you’re posing and you think that you look amazing but you look back at the photos and you’re like “oh my god, do I actually look like that!?” Trust me when I say my sim card has way more ugly photos of me on it than nice ones. And that’s okay!
Try not to get disheartened if you have a photo session and you end up hating all of the photos that you’ve taken. It happens to everyone. It has happened to me SO many times that I’ve definitely lost count. All you can do is shrug it off and try again another time.
You can’t be so hard on yourself. There’s been so many times that I’ve been trying to get a photo to work and got super frustrated with it. It only makes the whole thing worse. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away.
10 Practice Taking selfies then practice some more.
Come on, you knew this one way coming. Practice really does make perfect in this case! With practice, you will just get better and better at taking selfies and you will also get a lot quicker as well!
I’ve been taking selfies for over 4 years now, and I am still learning new things every day. I truly believe that taking portraits of myself is something I’m going to be learning every day, and every day I will learn something new.
But what I can say is that my confidence has massively improved through taking portraits of myself. It’s made me much more comfortable with my insecurities because I’m often looking at them for hours on end in Photoshop. Knowing how to pose in photos has really helped as well, as it means the photos end up so much better and much more powerful.
If you told me four years ago that I would be taking selfies for a living, I would’ve laughed. But now I absolutely love it, and it isn’t something that fills me with dread anymore, because I really took the time to learn how to pose my body to make it look it’s best, and to not be so hard on myself, we are only human after all!
If you want to learn how to improve your confidence by taking selfies then sign up for the Your Future Selfie Journal. It’s a free 120 a gentle process of self-expression through selfie-taking.