Tuesday, April 8, 2014

selfie etiquette 101

The selfie and I have had a love/hate relationship for the entirety of its existence. Sure, I love how easy it is to snap a photog with the love-of-my-life on a beach in Jamaica to forever document a beautiful honeymoon. But, I also cringe on the daily while scrolling through my newsfeed of countless selfies-gone-wrong.

I’m not saying selfies are bad - I’m just saying that they are widely misused. So I’ve created a list of questions to ask myself before snapping a self portrait - selfie etiquette, if you will - to prevent myself from subcoming to the horror I encounter every time I open Instagram. Feel free to share with your followers.

Selfie Etiquette 101:

1. Why am I taking this selfie? What’s the purpose? Am I showing off my new haircut? Did I just finish running a marathon? Is it my birthday? There are plenty of good reasons for taking a selfie, just make sure those reasons shine through. Hint: Being bored, sitting in your car and #workflow are not good reasons…

2. Is this a good place to take a selfie? Look around. How’s the lighting? Is the background cluttered? Is there anything inappropriate in sight? Most importantly, are you in a bathroom? {If the answer’s yes - there’s a better place!} Setting can make or break a photo AND can actually say a lot about the person in the photo. Choose wisely.

3. Can someone else take this photo? Sometimes you’re at home alone and you need to take an outfit post for your #workmycloset challenge and a selfie is your only option. But if there’s any way to remove that outstretched arm or awkward phone in the mirror, take it! Even strangers don’t mind snapping a quick pic. Plus, extended arm photos distort your facial features - who wants that?

4. Is there someone else to take this photo with me? Two is better than one, right? Right. And if you’re doing something special, you’re usually sharing that experience with someone else. So why not share some of that camera lens, too? Because as great as it is to remember you were there, it’s even better to remember who you were there with.

5. Am I representing myself well? This goes hand-in-hand with the first question, but I feel the need to reiterate. The internet is permanent, and what you post today will be seen by a future employer, significant other, child, etc. tomorrow. Am I being modest? Is this bikini picture necessary? Should I put down my red solo cup for this photo? Are duck lips really my best look? All great things to think about.

And, while I’m at it… Here are some tools I’ve found to take your selfie to the next level:

1. TimerCam - This is a great app that let’s you set your phone on a timer. Prop your phone up on the counter or chair, gather a group of friends and listen closely for the countdown. This is the perfect app when you want to take a group photo but don’t want to leave anyone out. {This is one of my favorite photos of Daniel and I and it was taken with TimerCam.}

2. Bluetooth Remote - Hello! My best friend Kay got this for me for my birthday. It’s a small gadget that uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone’s camera. No need for outstretched arms, bathroom mirrors or timers - just snap when you’re ready. Example A.

3. Mini-TriPod - Aaaand to make the selfie even better - you can get a phone-sized tripod. Yes, Kay got me this too - isn’t she great? Set up your phone virtually anywhere with these adjustable legs. I’ve even wrapped them around a tree branch. Now, no one even has to know it’s a selfie!

4. VSCO Cam - And the selfie wouldn’t be complete without the right photo editor. Skip Instagram filters and go straight for the good stuff. This comes with plenty of filters that are adjustable in intensity. You can also do things like crop, adjust skin tone, tint, temperature, brightness, contrast and more! And THEN you can upload them straight to Instagram or Facebook or whatever your preference. {For an example check out my entire Instagram feed.}

Do you have any selfie pet peeves or pro tips?


  1. agodfashionedlifeApril 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Love this post, Jenny! What a great reminder to think first why we are taking photos.


  2. these are great tips!!! i hate taking photos of myself because they never look right! one of my biggest pet peeves are people that post selfies every single day! and it's ALWAYS them sitting in their car! "here's how my car looks today - only i'm wearing a red shirt instead of a black one!"

  3. I don't really take selfies because....my phone doesn't take pictures! :P I think it's very important to take a moment to think about how you are representing yourself on the internet. Angel's given advice to his younger brothers--don't put pictures of you drinking alcohol online. If you want a professional career in the future...it's just better not to!

  4. Exactly! I have a post swirling around in my mind as a letter to all the high schoolers about social media presence. I know you think you're cool and funny and hot stuff right now, but if you want a job one day - think twice before you hit the post button! When I was trying to find an internship, I had to go through my Facebook and untag all these pictures a friend's mom had taken of me at the beach in my bikini. There were over 500 of them, but it was definitely worth it. My boss told me that she went and looked at ALL of my social media accounts before she decided to hire me.

  5. I know what you mean! I went through my phone to find all the typical "selfies" to use in this post, and I had less than five. I just don't look right and it's definitely the awkward arm angle. I may have a person or two that I "unfollowed" because I had seen the front seat of their car way too many times. If it's only every once in a while, I totally understand - but every day?

  6. We should think twice before we post any kind of content, but I think we definitely need this reminder when we're posting things about and of ourself. People are watching - Christians and non-Christians, grandmothers and children, future and former bosses - and we need to make sure we're representing ourselves well. AND if you're in the writing/graphic design/social media industry like me, you have the added pressure that all your social media profiles double as a resume!

  7. Ugh... "bored" selfies are the worst! If you think you look good, just post it. Don't put "so bored... ehhh!" Give me a break! lol

  8. After reading your blog and seeing you write about posting a picture of yourself everyday in April, how do you come across differently than the people you 'cringe' at and consider to have 'selfies-gone-wrong'? What makes you different than the person who was 'wearing a red shirt one day, and a black one the next'? Do you believe your selfies are better than other people's? Something to think about.

  9. You make a great point! My picture a day for April is actually what inspired this post. Like I said, I have a love/hate relationship with the selfie. And it's not something I'm entirely comfortable with. For my April challenge, I'm trying to fall back in love with my wardrobe and be comfortable in my own skin. If you've been around this blog for any time, you know self-image is something I have struggled with. The "purpose" of those photos is to show off my outfit creations just like any fashion blogger. I certainly don't think my selfies are better than other people's, and I honestly believe there are many good reasons to take a selfie. However, I also believe the front seat of your car is not the best place to show off your cute outfit. And too many beautiful women fall into the trap of seeking self worth and approval from the number of "likes" and "comments." I would love to continue this discussion, though. Feel free to email me your questions or concerns.

  10. I definitely think purpose and context are key - just be real!

  11. Read this article a few weeks ago, your post today reminded me of it...


  12. aww jenny, i was going to tell you that this post should go viral - that having a 'point' to a selfie is pretty key, but then i saw that guest comment and kind of just want to wrap you in a hug -- i always enjoy your photos on the blog, and i think bloggers need to put photos up just to show personality here and there - nothing wrong with that, right? besides, photos on a blog for personality purposes *is* a purpose. anyway, know you're awesome and keep doing what you do :)

  13. Thanks, Jennifer. Personality is definitely a great reason to take a selfie - and I think you do a wonderful job of capturing your personality in your photos. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated!