Call it another trend in narcissism, or call it art, but the "selfie" has become a mainstay of our virtual identity. Celebrities do it. Our friends do it. And let's be real: We do it, too. The thing is, when you post a really obvious self portrait -- (your arm out looking all bug-eyed and duck-faced) you're going to look ridiculous.
Trust me, I've been there.
So how do we take great pictures of ourselves and get away with it? Here are the tips I've picked up along the path of 'selfie-discovery:'
1. You need a smartphone with a front and back camera. This is crucial, people -- not just for taking pictures, but for discrete glances at your teeth after eating something with spinach, cilantro, or parsley. (Believe you me, you do not want to be that girl who goes through an entire date with cilantro in her teeth and doesn't realize it until after the fact.)
2. Download a photo app that allows you to tweak contrast and lighting to varying degrees. If you want to rock the whole More Emo Than Thou thing, make sure you can apply different filters to it.
Instagram is great -- natch -- but it's a public sharing space, and the editing feature is kind of limited. I personally like Camera+ because it's cheap and easy to use. Snapseed is also really cool, but it's kinda pricy. ($4.99 -- expensive for a phone app, but worth it if you're into photography.)
3. Find good lighting. Smartphones can be kinda harsh when it comes to revealing every pore and every laugh-line. And unless the sun is filtering gently at an angle, and you're rocking a halo and frolicking in a meadow with unicorns, then sunlight is not your friend. So instead, find shade. Or take pictures on a cloudy day when the light is diffused. And whatever you do, remember this: Backlighting is friend to no one. Not even you.
And definitely not to me:
(I'm just keeping it real, homies. Now let us never speak of it again.)
4. Repeat after me: Do. Not. Duckface. You know that pose where you think you're being all cute, but you really look like a constipated aquatic bird? (Browse through US Weekly and you'll see these duckfaces everywhere -- Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Richie et al. -- guilty guilty guilty. I've done it, too:
Because for that split second when you're looking at yourself in the front facing camera, you think that's the way to go -- but it isn't. Instead, try something new: Like smiling! With teeth! (That don't have cilantro in them!)
5. Look natural -- or at least look like you're having a good time. In order to best avoid rocking the frozen smile thing, using a camera app with a timer can be helpful. (Camera+ has one -- which is another reason why I love the app.) But, if you aren't using a camera with a timer, that's ok, too. Just make sure you make ridiculously funny faces (including your duckface!) until you're ready to take the actual picture. And then, look at the little camera hole (NOT at your face on the screen) and smile. You can also look away from the camera and use another focal point like you're having a lively conversation with someone...
...Even though there's no one else around....
6. Find your best angle. I'm going to be real with you: Very few faces are perfectly symmetrical. Sure, models are the exception to the rule, but for us mere mortals, tilting our face at an angle (3/4ish) is a great way to go. And this is where your camera timer comes in handy because if you're holding your phone out and tilting your face and trying to push the camera button at the same time, it won't be pretty. Instead, prop your camera against something -- maybe a window, or your cup of coffee (or glass of vino), hit the timer button, show the world your best side, and smile, smile, smile.
A version of this post originally appeared on familio.com.