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Answer by Mira Zaslove, shutter-bug, taken thousands upon thousands of photos:
Selfies are tough, because you are both the model and the photographer. Generally, I prefer being behind the camera, rather than in front of it. However, I’ve taken my share of selfies. Most make me cringe, but there are a few things you can do to make them more successful.
Good lighting is one of the most important factors for taking a good selfie (or any photo for that matter). If you are in the sun, step into the shade. Harsh lighting is bad—shadows are unflattering and highlight bags under eyes. Artificial and florescent light can also make your skin tone look off and give you undereye bags. If you are indoors, pull up all the shades, let in as much light as possible, and stand near a window.
The best time to take a photo outdoors is one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. If you shoot when it’s really dark, the photo will look grainy and unflattering.
Don’t use the camera flash. Direct camera flash gives you red eye and forehead glare. If you are using an off-camera flash, use a diffuser.
A good background is key. If you are somewhere really cool, snap yourself slightly to the side of the image, so you can see you and the background. Simple, clean, and nondistracting backgrounds are best. Before taking the picture, make sure to check the background. A messy room or branch coming out of your head will ruin an otherwise flattering selfie.
Angles are important. For women, take the photo from slightly above your head. Check out selfie-queen Kim Kardashian. According to OkCupid, this is the most effective angle for woman. For men: Take the photo with the camera below your head—you’ll look more masculine. Adjust your head angle and shoulders. Try a few shots to see what looks best. First straight on—parallel to the camera, then turn slightly to the left and then slightly to the right. To remove a double chin, and to accentuate your jaw line by extending your neck forward.
I love filters, but use them in moderation. Extreme editing will distract and can be ridiculous. Try to stay away from extreme contrast. The face smoothing on some pictures is just too extreme and makes you look like a wax sculpture. Not a good look.