Selfies with Penguins

Selfies with Penguins

Selfies with Penguins


“Say Cheese!”

Up until recently I had one selfie face. “Say cheeeeeeeesse!”

Christina Aldan Luckygirliegirl keynote speaker saying cheese

Rarely a boastful person, I struggled with the concept of taking pictures of myself directly smiling at the camera and posting them for the enjoyment of others (why would they care?). I would post an article about branding and marketing and no one cared. But a picture of my new haircut would generate hundreds of likes. I didn’t quite get it.

I envied gorgeous selfies of friends with their smooth, flawless skin. Impeccable makeup would catch my eye. “Were her brows on fleek when we had lunch last week?” (No, she used a filter.).

I was impressed when someone would tag me in a group selfie and somehow my skin looked better. “I don’t recall the flash when she took this.” (No, she made sure we were standing next to a bright window with natural lighting when she took the selfie.).

A friend of mine who used to be a model could pop into a sexy Vogue face and then immediately switch to duck face and she looked stunning. When I tried those same expressions, I looked paralyzed, but only on one side of my face.

I understand now that joy and celebration are infectious. And posting positive selfies in moments of celebration or joy actually help me stay more connected with friends and family on social media. I was tired of posing with the same middle-aged-mom-say-cheese-lady in photos. The only time I used to take selfies was with someone else. On the rare occasion I post a selfie with just me, it is out of pure luck that I feel I got a good shot.

Recently, while on a 3 week adventure mastermind (see AntarctiConf) I had an experience that taught me how to feel more confident about posting selfies (without needing a wingwoman in the picture with me). So, there we were, floating in Antarctic coastal waters and my friends were taking gorgeous shots of themselves against the glacial backdrop. I was still looking all plain and I wanted to give off a more flattering look. My friend is amazing at selfies and posts daily pics of herself that captures her celebratory moments during her travels without coming off as thirsty for attention. Enlisting her help, I thought if she took my pictures it would be better. She posed me. She propped me with a chair. She brought me into the light. She tilted me. I was still giving off the “Cheeeeeeze!” vibe. Once again I was disappointed. Same middle-aged lady “Cheeeeze” face. Uh. So it wasn’t the picture taker. I was going to have to learn how to make “the face.”

The Face

Determined, I asked another friend who takes gorgeous selfies. 
“You have to just love yourself in the camera,” her sultry Ukranian accent made me believe she did.
”Huh? I barely love myself off the camera,” I thought.
I puckered.
“Bitchier,” she encouraged.
I raised my eye brows. “Fewer wrinkles,” (she really is a great friend).
I found a direct light. “No, Try it in black and white,” she said.
Sensing my frustration, she kept cheering me on. 
“What am I supposed to do, just sit here and keep taking pics until one looks good?”
“Yes.” she confirmed. “That’s what you do until you figure out your best selfie face.”
“But I still don’t look like your gorgeous selfie face.” I whined.
“You need to focus on your best qualities and love yourself through the camera. Is it your eyes? You have gorgeous lips. You should curl your lashes more.” 
“Uh. These are awful.”
“It takes time,” she said. “Besides if you don’t like them, then just use a photo filter and it will enhance your features and smooth your skin.”
“Filters? Like Santa hats and hearts n’ stuff?”
“No, like black and white filters. They can look very natural, improving natural lighting, and makeup.”
Thus began ground zero for me learning the art of selfies.

So if you are like me and you don’t mind putting pictures of yourself online, and you want to level-up your selfie game, here are some tips…

1. Don’t be too serious, gamify it with friends

Like I said, it felt silly to practice taking selfies of myself, so I just leaned in to the ridiculousness of it all. I snapped hundreds of pics of my friends and me making silly faces into the camera. Soon it became a game with our group.


2. Try several in black and white to find the shadows on your face

Become familiar with the shadows on your face. Different expressions highlight/shadow different parts of your face to be more flattering. Learn which expressions highlight your best features.

3. Practice

It’s okay to take lots and then choose the best one. I used to snap the pic then jump outta there without much thought. I learned it is necessary to take the time to review lots of versions and then sort through the best ones.


4. Live Photo

Another trick I learned is about using live photos. I put my phone’s camera setting on Live Photo” and then scroll through the photo to choose the best “make main photo.”

Christina Aldan AntarctiConf selfie

5. Find the natural light

One of my friends has a “selfie window” which she knows captures the perfect lighting. It’s her go-to selfie spot because she knows the lighting will make her look her best.

6. Tilt your jaw up or down

A tilted head can demonstrate emotions that you are sassy or curious. Exposing your neck shows vulnerability. A strong jawline can give off a vibe of confidence and/or conviction.

christina aldan luckygirliegirl tilting head

7. Eyes looking left or right

When you look off-camera or out of the corner of your eye, it draws the viewer in because they are wondering what you are looking at. Bollywood dancers and belly dancers, for example, will often use eye movements to signal flirtations.

christina aldan luckygirliegirl eyes looking

8. RBF

Take “Resting Bitch Face” to a whole new level with selfies.

christina aldan luckygirliegirl RBF

9. Pick a side

Which side is your best side? The conclusion I’ve drawn after this little selfie exploratory adventure is that my left side is my best. So I try to take selfies now that feature my best side.

christina aldan luckygirliegirl best side

10. Strike a pose

I was often moving around too much and blurry in most photos. So I learned it was important to stop. Pause. Click. Then click again. Then a couple more times. Holding the same pose while I take the photo means I no longer have a bunch of blurry shots where I’m in awkward positions or making intermediary faces.

christina aldan luckygirliegirl strike a pose

11. Filters

While I knew filters existed prior to learning how to take a selfie, I only used the themed filters on holidays. Since my selfie-face didn’t really feel good to me, I didn’t want to use filters. What would be the point? Now, I’ve discovered that they can be fun and some of them look more natural than others. Some are too much, some are ridiculous, but there are some that actually do look natural-ish.

In the end, I’m pretty happy with the results. My confidence has improved about posting selfies. After a few weeks of practicing and making fun of all the nonsense faces, I’ve kind of got my “selfie face” neural pathway imprinted into my brain now.  I haven’t used it much since I returned to mainland, but I’ve been getting out more lately so if you see me out-and-about, then let’s take a selfie together!