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Want to Take the Most Amazing Vacay Selfie Ever? Here's How

August 28, 2014
how to take the perfect selfie
how to take the perfect selfie

(Photo: Andy Smith/Cultura/Getty Images)

While on vacation, you want to kick back, relax, and explore.

These days, we know you also want to take a boatload of selfies. Since we can’t take the adventures with us, we often rely on photos to relive our days of freedom and fun — at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

There’s nothing worse than a bad #selfie. 

To ensure you have the best possible self-indulgent pictures, we called upon a man who knows how to make people look good — Russell James, world traveler and photographer for Victoria’s Secret.

Russell gave us his top tips for taking the perfect vacation selfie.

Related: How to Take the Perfect Underwater Picture of a Sea Turtle

selfie photo tips
selfie photo tips

It’s all about the angle with a selfie (Photo: PhotosIndia.com/Getty Images)

Get the Right Angle 

Always hold the camera a little higher than your chin. Your face looks better if the camera is just slightly higher than your eye line. It does wonders for the double (and sometimes triple) chins that we get in photos every now and then. Keep your hand as far away as possible because when the camera gets too close, your face starts to look a bit weird in photos. You can zoom and crop later.

selfie location matters
selfie location matters

Location, location, location (Photo: John Howard/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Location Matters

If you’re in a village, town, or city, look at the lines. If you’re on the long avenues of Manhattan, for example, it’s always good to hold the camera in the vertical position because it helps to create a dramatic picture, as the buildings are so tall. Also, using the “burst” mode is great. If you’ve got a lot going on, people walking by, or cars moving, you can do a short burst with your camera and pick up some really interesting details. Snow is the hardest background to photograph. The best trick is to lower the brightness, which you can do with most apps. By adjusting this setting even just a little bit, you’ll notice that many details will start to emerge.

Pick the Right Lighting

When you’re out in open light and want to catch the background behind you, shoot in the same direction as the light. Although this means the light will be hitting you right in the face, the things behind you will also look really bright. But, if you want to make yourself look prettier, then it’s always nice to put the sun behind your face, so that you are backlit. If you’re lucky enough to be under a cabana or overhang, you can get what’s called open shade, meaning you’re in soft light, but the background is lit.

Related: The Great Vacation #Selfie War: Parents vs. Teens

lighting in a selfie matters
lighting in a selfie matters

Consider the light — it makes a difference (Photo: Vladimir Arndt/iStock/Thinkstock)

Choose the Right Time of Day

Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to take a photo. They’re ideal because the light tends to be low, which makes the objects around you more saturated and the light on your face softer.  

Composition Is Key

A straight picture is great. Keep the lines straight because it makes the picture more dramatic. If the picture is off-center, you can go in afterward and straighten it with most apps.

WATCH: Secrets to Taking the Best Selfie

The Filter Is Your Best Friend

There are so many good apps for taking photos these days, but the elements to play with in almost all of them are contrast and saturation. The saturation really brings the colors up. You tend to see these beautiful colors and things with your eye, but when you take pictures with your camera, they look a bit flat. Use your favorite app after you take the photo to bump up the saturation a bit, and you’ll find that suddenly the picture looks more like what you’re seeing with your eye. If you play with these two settings, you can really enhance your photos. You can also use the stretch or liquefy features, which allow you to stretch the images slightly. If you’re trying to convince your partner that you’re absolutely in the same shape as when you left, then that’s a trick to look a bit thinner.

Related: How to Take the Perfect Picture Out the Window of a Plane

group travel selfie tips
group travel selfie tips

Group selfies take work (Photo: franckreporter/Vetta/Getty Images)

Capturing the Perfect Group Selfie Requires Cooperation

The closer together your faces are, the better. Most importantly, you don’t want someone to be more forward or back, as this tends to distort the image. Imagine that there is a plate of glass in front of your faces. You don’t want anyone’s face to be further forward or further back. You want everyone in the same line so that nobody’s face looks especially round or bigger than the others. For the best group selfie angle, have the person on the right or left hold the camera as opposed to the person in the middle.

WATCH: Teens Take Dangerous Selfie on Hong Kong Skyscraper Spire

Russell’s client list includes Donna Karan International, Victoria’s Secret, and Rolex, and he has done portrait sittings for various celebrities, including Rihanna, Barbra Streisand, Will.i.am, Fergie, President Bill Clinton, Scarlett Johansson. “Angels,” his fifth internationally published art book, comes out this fall. 

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