10 Tips for Taking Great Selfies

photo credit- Dawgelene Sangster

photo credit- Dawgelene Sangster

By Dawgelene “Dr Dawj” Sangster-When my husband died in 2012, I had already been working with him for several years on his photography business. During the last 10 months of his life, I had become his eyes in the business that he had worked on extensively after retiring from the Chicago Police department. Since his death, I have come to enjoy capturing the art and lives of people through my photo journalism journey. I put together 10 tips that I found to be useful for any individual taking selfies. Read the tips and let me know if you find them useful or if you have others to add to the list.


1. Set the mood and tone for your inner personality. Ensure that you are in a decent mood in regards to taking a picture and ensure your personality shines through in your picture. Oftentimes people take pictures with the attitude of, “I hate taking pictures” and this comes through in the picture. You are beautiful inside and out, so allow it to shine through in your pictures.
2. Hair and Make-up styling should be appropriate for the look you are going for. Will you be natural with minimal make-up? Or, will you wear an array of colors for a more spring/pop-color look? For shorter hairstyles, go for a more natural make-up look with a pop-color lipstick. For longer hairstyles, I like to see dramatic eyes and lips.

3. Clothes– Bright colors are great for showing up on camera, especially if the lighting isn’t that great around where the picture is being taken. Darker colors can be worn, but ensure the lighting is good and that a pop of color is added via make-up, tie, scarf or hair/jewelry accessories.
4. Great lighting is critical– Outside settings are always great for a bright daylight pictures. If inside, I like to see white walls, which are great for bouncing light for your pictures.
5. Background settings– The great outdoors make really great backgrounds with colorful trees, flowers, water, woods and other surroundings. This is an added bonus when wearing darker clothing.
6. Remove the messy- I have seen a number of selfies where people have so much clutter in the background, drinks, bathroom towels, panties and garbage. Why would you want your selfie to look like that? While I know it happens in the moment oftentimes to just take the picture, it is still important to be mindful of your surroundings because messiness takes the attention from beautiful you and places it on the junk in your picture.
7. Angle Me– The angle of the camera is important when taking the selfie because it shouldn’t be so close that your face looks enlarged in the picture, nor should it be too low or high up. A great thing to remember when taking the selfie is to extend the arm out at an angle and slightly bend the elbow upwards to where the phone is above your head. You can then glance up and add a little head tilt if you like, then take the picture. Or you can extend the arm straight in front of you with the elbow slightly bent upwards, and then take the picture.
8. Smile child- Often people will say, “Get my good side” but all of your sides are beautiful. You just have a preference of one over the other, which is fine. That being said, remember to smile authentically.

9. Snap away- I recommend snapping several pictures with pose, smile and angle variations to have a selection of photos you might want to use, based on your needs.
10. Post responsibly- When it’s out in the digital universe, it’s out there. Would you want your mother, father, boss, and spouse to see the picture you post? Would your kids be proud of it? PLEASE ensure that before you share that photo on the various social media spaces, that it’s not something that could bring you problems down the road.
Dawgelene “Dr Dawj” Sangster is a Lifestyle photojournalist, author, professor and world changer, focusing on changing the world one person, one voice, one picture at a time. Follow her on twitter @Dawgelene

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