Who knows how long the mirror selfie has actually been around? Peruse some vintage Instagram accounts and you can find interesting takes all the way back to the 1950s, though the trend was popularized on a mass scale in the early 2000s — well before Instagram and front-facing smartphone cameras existed.
Today, the mirror selfie continues to be a popular way to get an aesthetically pleasing photo that shows off our best features. It's an easy shot with a million different approaches, and lots of flexibility when it comes to poses. It can also solve a variety of different problems. Say you're looking especially snatched in a killer outfit but hardly anyone is around to witness it. Or maybe the lighting sucks and you look ... not your best. There are mirror selfies for that, too.
Yes, the mirror selfie saves the day and we especially like it when influencers take them because it gives us a window into their private sanctuaries. In the glossy, homogenized world of social media, the mirror selfie feels more intimate and real. Though while they do have a candid feel, let's face it, most are actually staged. And that's okay, fam — we got you.
Before we get into some of the popular mirror selfie methods, keep these basics in mind.
A tidy background and strategic lighting
Whether or not you should tidy up the room behind you before taking a mirror selfie is actually debateable. If you're going for a thirst trap vibe, a messy bed may be the right move, but in general, a clean and minimalist background is most pleasing to the eye. So, unless you are going for an ultra-candid, moody feel, get out the Windex and wipe the toothpaste off your mirror. Gross.
As for lighting, you always have the option of using professional lights, and if you are an influencer or aspiring influencer, that may be your jam. But it kind of goes against the impromptu and candid nature of a mirror selfie. Instead, time it right. Remember that natural, daytime light works best. Direct light will be too bright, so avoid standing in front of your light source. Rather, face it for a more diffused effect.
Once you've got this down, you are ready to experiment with posing. Let's discuss some options.
Partially hidden face
This one is all about your outfit and your body. It’s a little mysterious, though with one eye peeking out from behind your phone, it says, hey, I'm not catfishing you. You’ll probably inadvertently do this anyway so it should be an easy variation to master.
Fully hidden face
Have a massive zit you’d like to hide? Feeling yourself in hermit mode? With this variation you completely hide your face with your phone. Position it front and center and commenters may question if it’s really you. Still, it’s a good option for showing off everything but your face.
Your hair is a vibe, your outfit is accessorized like a pro, and you're just feeling yourself. You've also been working hard at the gym, and now you’re hanging at one of the coolest new spots in town. In this case more than one mirror selfie may be in order. Not everyone has an eye for details either, so a carousel of photos will help zero in on different aspects of your look/life in each frame.
The right angle
Photography is all about angles. Experiment for a while and you will get at least one good shot.
If you don’t have time to play around, try this classic. Opt for an angled mirror and shoot your photo at waist height. This will give the illusion of long supermodel legs.
From the waist up
This one is all about the details. If you want to show off your makeup, hair, or accessories, skip the full-length shot and get close to your mirror. Tilt your head and jut your chin out to get a dramatic angle. If it feels awkward and wrong, you are probably doing it right.
If you want to add a bit more interest, go for the side profile. It's another clever way to show off different aspects of your look, and you get to choose your best side.
Shift your weight
This is perhaps the most classic posing tip around. Pop a hip or knee to create more dimension and accentuate your curves. Think of making an "S" shape with your body to show off the roundest parts of yourself. Or try this one: Bring one leg forward, shift your weight and point your toe with the heel lifted. It will flatter your form and show off your legs, pants, or shoes.
This little photography trick adds interest and creates an artsy vibe. Make it happen simply by shifting your phone over a few inches off-center.
If your lighting just plain sucks, make the most of it and go for a moody vibe. Tilt your head back and let the light cast dramatic shadows from above. Or make sure that your light source is placed to your side for a dark take and more shadow play.
Try a reflection in a wide window. It's edgy, artsy, and leaves no need to worry about the details. This variation is all about the dark curves of your silhouette.
Orrrr you could go for the no-mirror-at-all, mirror selfie. What the whaaa? Yea. Last year the interwebs went wild when influencers were caught taking non-mirror mirror selfies. Here, you basically use a second self-timed camera or phone to take a picture of yourself taking a selfie. It creates the illusion of a mirror except you can do it anywhere, in any light, sans the mirror.
Some supported it as a creative way to express yourself through photography, others felt duped by the inauthenticity. Hey, it's an option.
"Getting ready" selfie
This is a classic that you'll need to try at least once. It works well seated on the floor or in a makeup chair. Partially done hair and makeup while wearing your robe is the vibe here. In this case, a bit of a mess with styling tools/makeup surrounding you is okay. It creates an interesting behind-the-scenes look.
This is the epitome of mirror selfie. It can be done at home or at a bar with cool decor — it will show that you are out having fun and living your best life. Bonus points if you are trying to make an ex jealous here.
Bathroom light may or may not be flattering and sometimes they don't even have a full-length mirror. In this case, try a waist up version or place a foot on the sink to show off your footwear.
P.S. — Try to keep the toilet out of it. Or not. You could make it a thing.
There was a time when you may have felt weird about shamelessly taking a photo of your booty or lifting your shirt to show-off your abs at the gym. That awkwardness no longer exists. The mirrors are there because we all like to look. So, don’t be shy — you earned it.
Car mirror selfie
This one is a unique vibe that definitely feels candid. It's also another chance to show off your adventurous, road warrior side. Use the sun visor mirror or the rearview for a nostalgic photo opportunity.
If you aren't sure where to start, add a cool painting or a plant for a more layered photo. Consider shooting with a friend. More people make the picture more interesting, and cute pets are always a surefire way to get more likes.
So, there you have it. Once you capture your mirror selfie, be sure to add a caption. It could be something funny or deep, depending on the mood. If you're looking extra-spicy, use a coy thirst trap caption and post away!