Selfie vs. Self-Portrait

Selfie vs. Self Portrait

You say selfie. I say Self-Portrait.
What's the difference?

A selfie is a causal picture taken of oneself when they are in a great mood or feel particularly attractive. This picture is usually shot with a smart phone and taken in a car, at the beach, and/or with a friend who you know doesn't look good but you look so great you want to post the photo anyways.

A self-portrait is a professional picture taken of oneself that can convey a myriad of emotions. This picture is elevated from basic status by being shot with professional photography equipment in a more awe-inspiring location (or is taken so well with a smart phone/in a boring location that it looks professional). Generally speaking you cannot obviously tell that the subject in question is also the photographer. Instead it leaves your followers wondering "who took this picture?" "When did you have a photoshoot?" "How do you have so much time to get your picture taken?" "Why can't I have great pics like this?"



Both of these pictures are of me & shot by me. Ironically the first one has a filter on it (the fade one that comes with your iPhone camera app) while the professional Self-Portrait is completely unedited.

There's nothing wrong with either of these images; both have their place in the world of social media. However I'm not going to put the "selfie" in my photography portfolio. And while casual is great, sometimes I want to look a little more glamorous.

So how can you, a non-photographer or someone wanting to up their selfie game into self-Portrait game, take better photos of yourself?

Here are my Top 3 Tips:

1.) It's all in the background

*Notice how my first selfie has a bunch of chairs and random objects in the background while my Self-Portrait is a plain black backdrop*

Generally speaking I would say it's all in the lighting. That may be true for a selfie, but the Self-Portrait takes things a step further and also concentrates on the background. Why are so many selfies taken in cars? Great lighting. But a car photo just screams "selfie."

Very obviously a selfie & honestly not great lighting

Next time you're in the mood to take a self-portrait look around and see if you can find a better background, maybe a fence, a bush, or a brick wall. Anything non-distracting will do.

2.) No arms

Having your arm(s) out holding the camera is a cliché selfie move. To get that slick Self-Portrait look use a tripod or something to prop up your phone/camera on (a stack of books, a piece of furniture, etc) and use the automatic timer instead. You may have to put an object in front of the camera for it to focus properly.

Blah Background/Arm Out/Awful Lighting

Compelling Background/No arm/Better Lighting

3.) Improve your lighting

NOW we concentrate on lighting. Most professional selfie-ers are already well aware that good lighting is key. However I can't count the number of times I've seen novice self-picture takers with grainy night photos or photos taken away from the best light. ALWAYS look for a light source. You're indoors? Go stand next to a lamp or a light emanating from a nearby window or room. You're outdoors? Face towards the sun if it's an overcast day. If it's too bright go stand in the shade. If it's too dark seek out a light source (a lamp post, car headlights–do not get hit by a car, etc)

Overly bright concert lighting. Blurry image. Distracting background

Much Better

If you have a non-distracting background, good lighting, and are not obviously taking the photo, then you've upped your selfie game to Self-Portrait level. As for taking more compelling Self-Portraits, I'll go over that in a future blog post :).

-Annabelle Linker, Cage The Moment Photography