Love them or hate them, selfies are here to stay, and there’s no excuse for taking bad ones. If you want to up your Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat self-portrait game, you’re going to need a few key accessories.
Improving the lighting, reducing the blur, getting rid of the self-timer, and even turning a phone case into a drone, it’s all going to make for better shots.
Here are five gear recommendations that’ll have you taking better selfies in no time.
There are many ways to make selfies look terrible, and poor lighting is right at the top of the list. Shadows in sunlight, blurriness in low light, harsh shadows any time of day, the list goes on.
Since you’re unlikely to be carrying around a professional lighting rig on your travels, go for the next best option with a dedicated selfie light on your phone. It’ll fix all of the above problems, plus the softer light will do wonders for your complexion in all your photos.
The cheapest option is a clip-on ring light, like this Amazon-recommended model. It attaches to a wide variety of smartphones, with a few dozen small LED lamps arranged in a circle around the front camera.
Simply pick one of the three brightness settings, angle your phone to get the best lighting, and snap away.
For a sleeker, integrated option, check out Lumee’s range of smartphone cases. Available for iPhone and certain Android phones, the lamps are built into each side of the case, giving better lighting whenever you need it.
Unless you’ve got extremely long and steady arms, it’s hard to take a selfie of a group of people, or with much of the background visible. Rather than trying to grow your limbs, invest in a small, lightweight tripod instead.
You’ve got many options. Little foldout versions like the Kenu Stance fit on a keyring, with the big advantage that you’ll always have it with you. It works best for smaller phones, as larger ones can be harder to keep balanced.
If you want maximum flexibility from your phone tripod, check out the JOBY GorrillaPod range. The legs of these tripods are highly-adjustable, letting you keep the phone level even on the unstable ground, balanced on a fence post or around a tree branch, and other unusual situations.
Finally, there are several lightweight smartphone tripods with extending legs, that fold down small enough to fit easily in a day bag. As with many other things in life, you get what you pay for with these type of tripods, but this one is well-constructed, reasonably priced, and extends a more-than-useful 39” off the ground.
One of the simplest tools for better selfies, especially when taking photos of groups, is a remote shutter release. These Bluetooth accessories simply tell your phone to take a photo when you press a button, rather than relying on self-timers or unsteady fingers.
If you’re using a tripod, these things are a godsend. Take photos exactly when you’re ready, and keep pressing the button to take as many as you need. Just remember to keep your hand out of view of the camera!
Most remote shutters will work with any phone, and with many models of cameras as well. There’s an almost endless range of options, with many shutters small enough to fit on a keyring. Some have music controls and other functions, too, if those are important to you.
Since they're so inexpensive and are useful for many other photographic situations beyond just the selfie, it's well worth picking one of these little gadgets up for your next trip.
Let’s not forget the most obvious selfie accessory of all. Responsible for fun self-portraits and injuries to passing strangers in equal measure, the wildly-waving selfie stick has become a fixture at tourist attractions around the world.
They’re not all the same, however. The most basic versions do little more than hold your phone in place a couple of feet from your face. Better models extend and retract, giving you flexibility for taking photos of larger groups of people or getting more of the background in your shot.
Many also include a built-in Bluetooth shutter release like those mentioned above, letting you take shots at exactly the right moment. A few also have small fold-out legs at the bottom, letting them do double duty as a tripod.
Build quality varies a lot, and you don’t have to pay much more to get something noticeably better. Look for solidly-constructed metal poles that lock firmly in place when extended and have as little flex as possible. Not only will they last longer, but because the stick doesn't wobble around as much, your shots won't be as blurry either.
The same goes for the clamp that holds the phone in place. This needs to be as secure as possible since the last thing you want is to for your phone to fall several feet onto the ground from an ill-fitting selfie stick. This Mpow model ticks all the boxes and retails for under $20 on Amazon.
Really want to make a statement with your selfies? Forget tripods and sticks, drones are where it’s at!
There’s no need to carry around a large, heavy flying object in your bag just for taking selfies, though. How does a phone case that converts into a tiny flying camera sound instead?
A Kickstarter campaign to bring this product to market blew far past its funding goal, and it’s not hard to see why. The SELFLY flying camera snaps out of the back of the 9mm-thick phone case, automatically hovering in the air while it waits for instructions from the accompanying app.
You can fly the drone directly from the smartphone, get it to learn your face and automatically keep it in the middle of the frame, or just leave it hovering and monitor the shot on the phone screen.
The drone shoots HD video automatically and will take high-resolution images on demand and send them straight to the phone. Basically, it’s selfies taken to a whole new level.
This new product may not be available for shipping until a date in the future.