The Selfie has infiltrated its way into our lives. It’s a celebrity obsession. The masses embrace it. It’s even a listed word in the Oxford Dictionary now. (Go ahead, look it up. We’ll wait.) Whether you think it’s narcissistic or not, chances are you have or will have published selfies to your social media profiles too.

When you stop to think about it, the average person has been taking selfies since the dawn of the 35mm camera. How many photos did your parents or grandparents take of themselves or the family posing for a self-timed shot? That 5 to 10 second shutter delay was invented so the photographer could get in the shot too.

Instead of making their way into public forums though, those photos usually made their way into private photo albums or frames. Well, times change. The advent of camera phones has made selfies a whole lot easier to take and share. Now we can fully embrace our lovable selves and share our pictures with people whether they want to see them or not – anytime, anywhere.

But not all selfies are created equal. If you’re into taking selfies you might as well learn how to take a decent shot, right? Right! We want to help you avoid becoming the next inappropriately selfie-absorbed Bieber or Kardashian. So we’ve taken the liberty of putting together a cheat sheet that will help you put your best face forward and avoid looking like an arse while doing it. Well, as much as possible.  It is a selfie after all!

What’s In the Background?

Avoid taking selfies with a cluttered background or a lot of distractions that will take the eye from the focal point – you! Before you get snap-happy take a look around to see what (or who!) might appear in the picture behind you. Also, note how unequivocally distasteful it is to take selfies in public restrooms, at funerals, burial grounds, memorials and, yes, even at weddings. Keep it classy.

How’s Your Lighting?

Good lighting is critical to any photo, even a selfie. Never take one under harsh, unforgiving fluorescent lights. Also avoid dimly-lit rooms. If the picture doesn`t turn out blurry, the glare from the flash is unflattering at best making even the nicest complexion look pasty. Natural light is most flattering, so take your pictures next to an uncovered window or go outside. To soften your features and add warmth to the photo, take the shot when the sun is in front of you and a bit above eye level so you’re not squinting. Don`t be afraid of cloudy days. Brightly coloured surroundings (blooming flowers, green grass, or forest scenery) are excellent backdrops that will make your photo pop on a cloudy day.

Have You Looked In the Mirror Recently?

If you intend on posting your selfie to social media or otherwise sharing it with your friends, take a look in the mirror before you take the shot. The disheveled bedhead look might be cute or edgy on some, but for most of us, it just looks lazy. Take a moment to adjust your hair and clothing. And, please. WEAR CLOTHING! See tip 1.

Avoid Full-Length Selfies

Standing for a selfie may give you better posture and shoulder movement, but the only way to get a full-length selfie is to take a photo of your reflection in a mirror. Not only will you capture yourself and the outfit you’re presumably trying to show off, but you’ll also capture yourself holding the camera. That’s just tacky. Instead, ask someone to take the photo for you. It will seem less self-absorbed.

Get to Know Your Best Angles

Before taking your selfie become familiar with what your best angles are. It’s a bit different for everyone, but one thing that’s rarely flattering on anyone is facing the camera straight on. Try experimenting a little. Try different angles with your head, eyes, smile, shoulders, and stance. Holding the camera at a 45-degree angle is best to avoid the dreaded double chin. Avoid selfie clichés like the duckface, pouty lips, sultry vixen, muscle shots, the guns and so on.

Do a Double Take…Or Ten

No one gets it right on the first try. Not even the pros. Models have hundreds of photos taken and then it’s narrowed down to a few of the best shots. Don’t be obsessed with perfection, and don’t feel bad if it takes five or six tries to get a shot you’re happy with. It gets easier once you know your angles and are entirely comfortable taking your own picture.

Get Your Friends in the Shot!

Without a doubt, the most interesting photos are those showing you with your pals having a great time. The honest smiles and shared camaraderie always turns out great in a picture. You’ll get the most natural shot with naturally flattering angles. After all, good times are best shared when they’re shared experiences.

When All Else Fails…

Get a selfie camera extension. If you have trouble keeping your arms out of the shot, or you want to capture more of the background or more people in the photo then go out and pick up an extended selfie arm.  The extendable rods have a remote shutter button on the handle and hook onto your smart phone. They help you aim the shot at the perfect distance. They are especially useful if you have short arms or shaky hands. You`ll get a clearer picture, a more natural photo, and they’re usually available for around $40.

Have Fun with Your Selfies

Once you have a shot you like you can have a lot of fun with the photo. Upload it to any number of the free photo editing apps available online (such as, Picmonkey or iPiccy) or even use those that come with most smartphones. Try a variety of filters, effects, enhancements, frames, or text. Black and white filters are very forgiving and make a glamorous impression.