A selfie by definition is a self-portrait. However, most people shooting selfies have no professional photography experience.
For any photograph to work, for personal or social use, the shot must be memorable. There are a lot of ways to make your photos memorable — a beautiful background, the right light, a fun setting. In most cases, you don’t even need special equipment, a good smartphone will do the trick.
Here are some tips to make your selfies stand out.
Never miss a local story.
Pro tip: Add action when the scene calls for it. I had my 13-year-old neighbor Jamie Hannah jump in front of this mural at North Main Street in the Stockyards. While it isn’t a traditional selfie, the action in the photo brought life to what would have been your standard tourist shot.
Location: Fort Worth Stockyards, 130 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
Good to know: Using the Instagram filter “Rise” on this photo gave it a Wild West vibe.
Find the best light
Pro tip: Timing is everything. Sunset and sunrise are the best times of day to get the perfect light. During the day, make sure your light source is behind your camera lens.
Location: On the Trinity Trail near White Settlement Road in Fort Worth
Good to know: In this photo, the light from her smartphone illuminated her face so she wasn’t a complete silhouette against the beautiful sunset.
Choose a compelling background
Pro tip: The arches of the 7th Street bridge in downtown Fort Worth provide a dramatic back drop for a self-portrait. Using the background to fill your photo adds depth and intrigue.
Location: West Seventh Street bridge in Fort Worth
Good to know: You don’t have to always to use a face in the photo to make a memorable image.
Pro tip: Here are two different views of twins Eva and Laila Estrada, 3, of Crowley, at the popular picture spot, the Fort Worth Water Gardens. The girls’ father, Jimmy Estrada, tried to capture his children’s cuteness in the moment. The problem is the photo is ruined by some interlopers, including me shooting in the background to the left, and the stairwell framing.
Instead, prop your children in a spot that makes them the focus of the photo and allows the background to frame them. Although there are are still people in the background, your eye goes to the smiling children.
Good to know: To avoid tourists walking in front of your photo, prop your children in a spot away from a walkway and shoot up close.
Perfect your perspective
Pro tip: You’ve seen the photos of people “holding” the Eiffel Tower or “pinching” a statue’s head. Sometimes, the right angle and perspective can be a creative way to add some fun to your portraits. In this series of photos, Jamie noticed the moon in front of Bass Hall in Fort Worth.
We had already decided to play with the Bass Hall angel and through trial and error found the right angle and pose so that Jamie was “holding” the angel in one hand and the moon in her other hand.
Location: Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth
Good to know: Believe it or not, all of these photos were shot with an iPhone 7. The Instagram filter “Mayfair” was used in the final photo.
Fun with filters
Pro tip: Using filters is standard on social media, especially on the popular Instagram app. Don’t be afraid to use filters to accentuate your point of view in photos. This photo of Jamie at the Fort Worth Stockyards used a Hipstamatic filter to create a special effect.
Location: Fort Worth Stockyards, 130 E. Exchange Ave. Fort Worth
Good to know: Take your time to find the perfect filter for your setting. If you’re not quite ready to post on social media, take a screen shot of your top two or three filters to compare, then post.
Prop up photos
Pro tip: Adding a prop or object to scenic portraits provides an interesting and unique view. This photo of Jamie at the Fort Worth Water Gardens includes a doll and plastic horse that she had altered for an art project. The picture is not your typical Water Gardens photo, which makes it different and special.
Good to know: This was shot up close and the background provided the angles. Sometimes a straightforward shot with a striking background is better than positioning your camera at an angle for effect.
Silhouettes and shadows
Pro tip: Another way to play with natural light is to capture silhouettes and shadows. The photo of the shadows was shot at the Fort Worth Water Gardens during the day. The photo of Mackenzie Hannah, 10, of Fort Worth, was shot after a recent rain storm at North Hi Mount Elementary School in Fort Worth. The spectacular sunset framed her silhouette spectacularly and was shot with an iPhone 6.
Good to know: The shadow photo was technically a selfie showing Jamie and me.
Picture your pets
Pro tip: For the most part, we tend to photograph pets by themselves or with other pets. Shooting a selfie with your pet is a great way to show your bond and create a great memory. In these photos, Debra Hale of Fort Worth and her dog, Sassy, snap a selfie along the Trinity Trail.
Location: On the Trinity Trail near White Settlement Road in Fort Worth
Good to know: It’s good to have a “wrangler” when photographing pets.
As told to Maricar Estrella. Joyce Marshall has been a photojournalist for more than 40 years. She loves capturing moments with her dogs, Jeoffry and Scooter. Follow her on Instagram at @nevadajoyce
5 bluebonnets photo-ops in Texas
Taking selfies in a bluebonnets field is a Texas tradition each spring. Here are some scenic spots to try:
1. Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
Ennis is known for its bluebonnet trail, and there’s a festival to prove it. The free, three-day wildflower party includes live music, arts and crafts, and children’s activities. Don’t forget to pick up a bluebonnet trail map. Through Sunday. 101 N. Main St. W, Ennis. www.visitennis.org
2. Texas state parks
With more than 100 parks to choose from, you’ll be able to find some of the prettiest locations without having to worry about your safety taking photos near a highway. Check out the best park spots on this Pinterest board: www.pinterest.com/texasparks/
3. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Here is your off-the-beaten path chance to take photos in a safe setting. Take a guided tour of the gardens, which boasts Texas’ largest collection of native plants. The center is also wheelchair accessible. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 adults, $4 ages 5-17. 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin. http://www.wildflower.org/
4. Burnet Bluebonnet Festival
What? Another festival. This small town was officially recognized by the Texas Legislature as the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.” It has lots of activities related to the fest, including 5K and 10K runs, a parade, live music, a car derby and classic car display, and a carnival. The fest is free but some activities will have fees. Through Sunday at the intersection of U.S. 281 and Texas 29. http://bluebonnetfestival.org
5. Highland Lakes Bluebonnet Trail
This is a self-driving tour of the communities of the Highland Lakes. You can get a free map at the Marble Falls Visitor Center, then enjoy the scenery as you make your way around Horseshoe Bay, Granite Shoals, Kingsland, Inks Lake and the Buchanan Dam. Free. http://txhillcountrytrail.com