How to take a selfie

Nikki ParkinsonLife 59 Comments

Sponsored by Olympus Australia

When I first blogged about how to take a selfie – in 2012 – the whole concept of a selfie was seemingly reserved for bloggers.

In 2015 you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t taken a selfie.

Even big name celebs who have their photos taken by professionals (granted, some are unwanted photos!) are doing the selfie. Who could forget Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity-packed Twitter selfie from the Oscars last year?

For me that image sums up why I’m a fan of the selfie. They are a bit of photographic fun. They capture time spent with friends. They capture a new hair do. They capture a date with your partner.

They allow you to capture a moment even if no-one is around to do that for you.

It was Australian fashion designer Alex Perry who introduced me more than five years ago to the whole concept of a selfie.

I was interviewing him and after the interview I asked if I could get a photo with him. I had someone lined up to take the photo but instead he took hold of my little digital camera, turned it around, stretched out his arm, tilting the lens down towards us. He said the result would be better than someone taking it and when I looked in the viewfinder afterwards, he was right.

Alex Perry and Nikki Parkinson at the launch of Alex Perry for Zambezee Boutique, September 29, 2009 #selfie

My love of the selfie photo started that evening.

I moved from that camera to an iPhone 4, 5, 5S and now 6 Plus, as well as another compact SLR and now my new favourite toy, the Olympus PEN E-PL7 (the “selfie camera” I wrote about here).

This post will show you the four different ways I get a selfie (using the E-PL7) for my blog and social media work (and play). I’ll share my tips for improving your selfie taking AND … drum roll please … read on for details about how 20 Styling You readers could attend a lunch in March hosted by myself and Olympus in Sydney.

Let’s get started, shall we?

The selfie head shot

The E-PL7 is made for this particular photo. The LCD screen drops and flips down so you can see and frame yourself – and others – in the photo. There is no distortion of the image and low-light when you’re out at night (when most of the fun selfies happen!) is no problem at all. You can even touch the screen to focus and take your photo. For best results, use the e-Portrait setting while in SCN mode.

How to take a selfie #selfie_olympus

How to take a selfie - selfie - #selfie_olympus


1. Use any natural – or artificial – light but facing towards that light source. For example, if you’re at or near a window, face towards the window so your face is in natural light.

2. Work out your best angle. Oh ok, this is a little/lot superficial but if you’re going to be in a selfie you may as well make it work for you. Practise with different positions of your face and nail your signature selfie. Look at the lens (or just above it), not at the LCD screen.

3. If taking a group selfie, get everyone’s heads positioned as close as possible to each other. It will feel weird and definitely an invasion of personal space but the photo will be framed better and focus will be consistent.

4. Extend your arm out as far as possible to take a selfie – angle slightly up but not too much that it distorts your face.

5. The selfie method can be used as a way to get a full-or-partial length outfit photo but I think it can distort the way you look a bit. Fine if you don’t have another option but worth looking at the alternatives below if taking these kind of photos regularly.

How to take a selfie - selfie headshot - #selfie_olympus

Using a tripod

Most of my outfit photos taken for Model and Me and other fashion posts on the blog are taken using a tripod and a remote. Now, with the E-PL7, the remote is part of the I.O. Share app on my phone. You connect your phone to the camera’s internal wi-fi (as you would to upload photos to your phone) and then press the remote button. The genius element here is that you can see what the E-PL7 is seeing while you set yourself up for a photo. You then press the shutter button on the app and your picture is taken.

How to take a selfie - tripod and remote selfie - #selfie_olympus

How to take a selfie - tripod and remote selfie - #selfie_olympus

How to take a selfie - tripod and remote selfie - #selfie_olympus


1. It doesn’t matter how big or small your tripod is – you just need to stand or rest it somewhere that will enable you to get a full-length image. I have a tall tripod, a medium tripod and a small table-top tripod. I mostly use the tall as it remains fully assembled in my office ready for use.

2. Position your tripod so that the camera captures you directly straight on. I used to angle down but realised that this was making my legs shorter and my torso longer. Straight on means no distortion of your body shape.

3. Use natural light to your advantage – again. It’s often tricky for me on my Queenslander verandah but there are a couple of  “sweet spot” times during the day when the light isn’t direct and casting shadows. I try to shoot in those times if at all possible.

4. Play around with your poses to find what works best for you. I know what works for me – put a camera in front of me and my hand seems to want to just stick to my left hip like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve tried to fight it but I think I’ll just call this my signature style ;). I’ll sometimes throw in the “just casually looking at my toes but oops it must me time to see to those hair roots” pose. Or the “hands on both hips looking straight forward” pose. We’ll play around with poses at the Olympus selfie lunch (details below) and I’ll share the probably hilarious results in another post.

5. Use a background that is not too detailed. The idea of an outfit photos is is that we see the full length of what you’re wearing. You can always do close-ups of details but start with a full-length shot.

How to take a selfie - tripod and remote #selfie_olympus

The mirror selfie

This is not a selfie that I do too often. It’s not to say it’s not a good way to get a selfie. It’s just that there are good mirrors and there are not-so good mirrors.

How to take a selfie - the mirror selfie - #selfie_olympus


1. My mirror here is not ideal – it’s ok in an emergency outfit photo situation but not an ideal long-term solution. The best mirrors for selfies are ones that are wide. This enables you to stand as close as you need to get the full shot without having to angle yourself and possibly distort the image. Oh, and the mirror should be clean.

2. Once again, work with the light. The mirror needs to be located in a well-lit position or be one that you can move to a well-lit position.

3. If a stand-alone mirror, make sure you prop it straight up against a wall to take a photo. This will take away any distortion the angle might create.

4. The camera will very much be a part of this photo with you (it helps if it’s as good looking as the retro-inspired styling of the E-PL7!). Hold it centrally to your body so it’s not angled down or up (to prevent body distortion).

5. Look at the mirror, not down at the camera.

 How to take a selfie - mirror selfie - #selfie_olympus

Someone taking your photo for you

Ok, so technically this isn’t a selfie. You got me. But it is something that’s worth discussing here as having someone take your photo for you isn’t necessarily a win. It can be if you’re able to train up your photographer to understand your camera and how to get the best shots of you. The E-PL7 is super easy to use and I’ve been able to train up my nine-year-old son (my #everydaystyle outfit photographer who I “pay” in books) and my 18-year-old daughter (my part-time blog outfit photographer who I “pay” in part-time board) to use it.

How to take a selfie - the get someone to take it for you selfie - #selfie_olympus


1. Don’t assume that the person on the other end of your camera knows how to use it. Set it up for them, frame the photo, adjust the settings if necessary and ask them to photograph you a certain way.

2. Ask that they frame the photo so that you are in focus (obvious yes and easy to do with the “tap the screen” function on the E-PL7) but that they also get your whole outfit with room above and below your head and feet. I err on the side of more room so I can crop the photo to suit my needs.

3. If the photo is to be uploaded as quickly as possible to Instagram, shoot it in 1:1 image aspect mode. This helps with the framing and so that you don’t find you have to crop out part of you for Instagram.

4. Get the photographer to hold the camera at a nine-year-old’s height. This will be at the chest of an average-height adult and it puts the camera squarely at your mid section, making for the most flattering angle and a resulting photo that is in proportion to your body.

5. Ask that the photographer take multiple images. Not machine-gun like, but slow and steady. This enables you to move around in your pose, giving you more options from which to choose to upload and feature. Trust me, I might get my #everydaystyle photos on the run but there is usually a minimum of 10 for me to look at and choose a favourite from to crop, edit and upload.

How to take a selfie - someone takes the photo for you - #selfie_olympus


Would you like to join me for a Styling You/Olympus Selfie high tea? We’ll talk – and take – selfies. I’ll share my tips on posing for photos. You’ll get to play with the Olympus PEN E-PL7 and learn tips on how to get the most out of this camera from a professional photographer.

There are 20 spots available. The event will be held in the private dining room at the QT Sydney on Wednesday, March 11 between 12 and 3pm. If you’re available and would like to attend, answer this question in the comment section below to be in the running. Transport to and from the event is not included.

Why do you need help with your selfie taking?

Entries open Thursday, January 29 at 4.45am (AEST) and close Thursday, February 12 at 5pm (AEST). Australian entries only, sorry. The winner will be judged on originality and creativity (photos can be included and uploaded with the comment). The winner will be emailed and their name will be published here. Entrants must include an email address when the filling in the commenting system below to be eligible to enter. Full terms and conditions here.

For more information about the Olympus PEN E-PL7 camera, visit here.

Coordinated by The Remarkables Group

Comments 59

  1. Hi Nikki, i received an email saying I was one of the 20 to get invite to the lunch at QT sydney, was this legit, have not received any further details.

  2. Styling you?
    Please style ME!
    At the QT!
    With selfies galore!
    Please, I implore …
    Olympus can help us all nail this …
    Top technology, top style and yummy treats …
    Would love to meet you and be part of this day …
    Great selfies are on their way!

  3. Well, if the old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words…’ is really true – then my attached attempts at selfies do say it all. I’ll add that they are pathetic…
    On our recent trip to Japan I met the most beautiful people and I didn’t always have a willing photographer with me; honestly I could cry at the missed opportunities. I am sure you will agree that a: I should invest in the Olympus Selfie Camera and b: I absolutely will benefit from spending an afternoon with you to up the ante on my skill set! Fingers crossed…xxx

  4. Nikki….I can’t take a selfie to save myself….would love to learn all the how to’s and how nots!! Sounds fab!!

  5. My library of awkward selfie after awkward selfie and not having a self-taken photo that I like at all is why I would love to attend this workshop!

  6. I would really love to attend the workshop with you, Nikki.

    Given the man who loves me, squirms and pulls faces when I ask him how I look in any attempted selfies, I think that is evidence of my need for help. We take lots of photos of our niece and nephews, but very few of ourselves and given we are planning a trip to Europe in August, I would love to rectify that situation.

  7. Ooooooh Nikki – I would love to check out the QT! I work nearby so should have gone in by now, but tend to get stuck in the school run > work > after school care pick up cycle….I need help with selfies because I have TWO selfie sticks which I have not used! One was a Christmas present, and the other I won one at work in an Australia Day competition! 🙂

  8. Where do I begin my pathetic tale of selfie woe. As a forty something who has been snapping selfies for decades, it is exciting to contemplate they could actually become fit for human consumption. My skill set, despite the devotion and commitment to the medium, is sadly lacking. When I was a girl, this exquisite and joy filled captured moment didn’t even have a name. Now, I am considering the potential career and memory management opportunities that could be waiting for me. If only I could FOCUS on key steps and have some ExPOSURE to experts. Then I could CAPTURE more GLOSSY selfies and DEVELOP my skills. Hopefully, the chance to ENHANCE my selfie skills, will lessen my NEGATIVE emotions about them.
    Hoping and wishing. Thanks for sharing and supporting.
    Michelle B
    [email protected]

    Please see the sad example attached. All half heads, crazy eyes and clutter.

  9. Where to start?
    Chins that roll like grassy, green hills;
    Light that should only be paired with one dollar bills.
    The skin close ups that leave me appalled;
    Ponytails that make me look bald.
    Duck face that appears out of no where;
    All to my social media despair!
    Help me take a great selfie in Sydney Nikki;
    Surely it doesn’t have to be that tricky!?

  10. Help me, help me! My selfies always look creepy, or inappropriately coquettish or both! And I find it hard to relax my face. Plus I would love to dine with you and my fellow readers #fantasisingANDpanickingaboutwhatIdwear

  11. Look at this sad sad attempt of me trying to get a selfie with hubby when we snuck away to the beach while kids were at vacation care!!! Clearly I am confusing my subject matter and not managing to capture the (rare) kiddy free moments!!!! Help me Nikki/olympus!!! These moments only happen once a year!!!

  12. I need help because my arms aren’t long enough and I always end up with a double chin! Despite my physical limitations I’d love to improve on the selfie so I can share less of my dogs or relatives whom I usually rope in to pose! Plus I’d love to check out the Olympus camera to see if I can justify putting it on my (March) birthday wish list.

  13. Seeking help to make my photo taking selfies better.
    Eager to learn as much as I can.
    Level headed selfie taker seeking help.
    Forever seeking the best shot only to settle for mediocre.
    I would love to learn more.
    Every tip will be noted and accomplished with Olympus.

    Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity. V x

  14. Thank you for all these fabulous tips!! I am slowly learning and improving my selfie techniques but have a long way to go. I would LOVE to attend the workshop with you and give that Olympus baby a try. 2015 might the year I upgrade from iphone photos to the real deal Olympus kind. It’s probably also the year I should upgrade my tripod (athough the recycling bin plus three shoe boxes works rather well…. in dry weather at least!)

  15. Great blog post Nikki,will have to give you selfie and photo tips a try. I would love to go your talk but I live in Brisbane… fingers crossed for a Brisbane session.

  16. Slightly off topic but is that the Sportscraft Alice dress? Can I ask what size you bought? I think you and I are a similar size. Harbour town is holding one for me but it’s a 12 and I think I might be more of a 14 in this dress but I can’t find a 14 anywhere. Thanks for your help.

  17. Hi Nikki, I’ve still got my L plate training wheels on in terms of blogging and instagramming. I’m only 5 months old in blogging years, well months!

    Although I predominantly blog about beauty I also want to branch out and include the occasional fashion/style blog post but prior to doing so I need to master the art of taking a selfie.

    In addition to this, since I killed my previous camera by dropping it at the beach I also need to identify a new suitable camera to buy because using my iPad’s camera function just doesn’t work for selfies! Trust me, I did try it, numerous unsuccessful times! I’d love to have a hands on play with the Olympus PEN E-PL7 using your above tips and the professional photographer’s instruction.

    Finally I’d also love to meet you and 19 other bloggers in real life as none of my real life friends blog and I’d love to talk blogging, photography and social media with other people in real life! Ingrid – [email protected]

  18. I have never taken a selfie. Oh the horror. I take the photos I am not the subject of photos. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Lol.

  19. Have never taken a good selfie. If I am by myself the chin family moves in (double chins) and in a group i am twice the size cause i am a bit closer to the camera. Never turns out well. Being single and doing things on my own it would be good to learn how to do this for future travels. I have a few things on my wishlist this year and to be able to capture them would be fantastic. Thanks.

  20. I’m a selfie shocker. I always look like I am in pain and no matter what angle my forehead is shiny and I smile awkwardly. I also can’t help but do the Oscars Skinny Arm stance. I’d love to master the Selfie in my 40th birthday year.

  21. Obviously I can’t partake in the competition, being a London-based Aussie, but thank you for this fabulous post! So much good information and very timely as I’ve been considering how to start taking my own outfit shots! Good luck to everyone who enters, I’m so glad I found your wonderful blog Nikki and I’ve been sharing it with my friends who are loving it too! xx

  22. No idea how to take a good selfie. Tried a few times when I’m on my own and always look awful…just can’t seem to get the angle right. Plus don’t have any confidence in showing pics of myself! I’m normally the one behind the camera taking photo’s of everyone else. Consequently, hardly have any pics of me. Great tips! Thank you xx

  23. Great post! I brought this camera for myself with birthday/Xmas money gifts. It took me forever to find one in store “right now” and I insisted it had to be this one because “Nikki recommended it”….BUt my head is now full of aperture, shutter speed etc whilst I try to make sense of digital photography!! ( Im not a creative person by trade!!!)

  24. Help me!!! I was trying to take a selfie to send to my best friend to show her my new haircut and its a shocker! I also had to take an iMovie for my uni course and I couldn’t even bear to look at it to edit it. I just can’t get the angle of the camera right. see below. Plus I’d love to have lunch with you Nikki!

  25. I would LOVE to attend this event, but I will politely sit this one out!
    What I will say though, is that I have the Olympus OM-D E-M10 (which I love!) and most of the time, it sits attached to my tripod and on 1:1 mode. I then move it around the place, wherever the best light is, and snap my #everydaystyle outfit using my iPhone and the Olympus app before I leave for work. I save my fave pic to my iPhone and share it later in the day. Such a brilliant camera and app! I’d be lost without it.
    I’m also currently trying to “teach” my resident photographer (the husband) how to snap my outfit photos for the blog, so these tips are especially useful for me!
    PS: can I just say DO NOT take outfit photos from a low angle! It doesn’t do you or your outfit any favours. Straight on, as Nikki said, or from slightly above definitely works best.

  26. I have tried to take a selfie with my Ipad camera, did not end well. I certainly missed the boat for taking selfies, and am always self conscious having my photo taken, never seem to get the smile, stance etc right, at least with digital nowadays you can delete and try, try again. A bonus to have the opportunity to have lunch and some pointers on having my photo taken.

  27. I need help with this, cos I’ve never taken one – well, I took one, and it was so awful, I haven’t tried again… Currently limited to my phone camera though, so I’m under-equipped…

  28. I feel very left out of the selfie generation! No matter how hard I try I always look terrible in a selfie. I recently bought myself an Olympus OM-D camera to celebrate my 40th and would LOVE to learn tips on using an Olympus to get a decent selfie. Looking back on photos as the photographer I always feel like I wasn’t really there as I am always behind on the camera. It would be great to be able to take selfies with my daughter so we have nice some shots together!

    See below a bad attempt at a selfie…

  29. Wow. I love this blogpost. Such great tips, Nikki. I am a fashion blogger too and therefore have to and want to take a lot of selfies. Whilst I do manage to take some, but not as much as I would like to take. Sometimes the lighting is not good, or sometimes I just can’t seem to get the right angle or sometimes I just don’t look that great. I do need tips to get a perfect selfie so that I can post more selfies on social media and my blog. And moreover, a lunch with you, it just could not get better. My email address is [email protected] and if you want to check my blog, it’s
    I would love to get a chance to meet you Nikki. Looking forward to this great opportunity.

  30. [email protected]
    I’m in my early 50s and have started taking selfies, ok 1 or 2, under the guidance of my adult children… They have terminated my ‘selfie apprenticeship’ with them….said I was too slow and needed to ‘get with the technology’ !!!!!! 🙁 sooooo now I need to get some serious lessons and expert tips so I can become the Master of my own selfie destiny!!!! Xx

  31. I feel like I’ve got (or am getting) my groove back post baby/divorce/relocation/career change… yes, it’s been a big three years!

    Part of that has been reinvigorating my wardrobe, Instagram photos that I share to Twitter and Facebook, that sometimes make it to my blog. Unless I have someone to take the photo (and as a single Mum to a toddler, this can be tricky), it can be challenging, and planned #ootd (outfit of the day) photos disappear into the ether of my imagination. And there are always the awkward shots that I’m loathe to ask friends to retake again!

    And I’m with you on the left hand on hip pose!

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