8 Etiquette Tips for Taking Selfies

Gay couple taking selfie at Trafalgar Square

Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images

Are you into self-photography? Did you buy a selfie stick to take your best shots? That's fine, but when you whip out your phone to snap your next selfie, spend as much time being considerate as you do looking cool.

The act of taking selfies isn't completely new since a Russian grand duchess did it back in the early 1900s. It wasn't commonplace back then since cameras were bulky and difficult to manage. Bring in today's tiny cameras and cell phones, and you have a completely different picture.

Selfies can be loads of fun, but they can also go very bad—particularly if certain guidelines aren't followed. No one wants to see you pouting with duck lips because...well, it's not a good look, and it's been way overdone.

If you want to take selfies, that's fine, as long as you do it in good taste. Some things you'll want to consider include setting, lighting, subjects, and action. If you are doing anything you don't want your mama to see, don't take the picture. Likewise for your boss. You don't want to lose your job over a silly little selfie.

If you are like most people, you'll want to show yourself in a positive light. Take a moment before snapping the picture and glance at yourself in the mirror to make sure your lipstick isn't smeared all over your face and the broccoli you had for lunch isn't showing up on your pearly whites. If you are at home, pick up the area around whatever will be in the shot. No one wants to see your clothes strewn all over the floor.

Basic Etiquette

Here are some basic etiquette tips for selfies:

  1. Get permission. If you want to take a photo of yourself with no one else in the picture, by all means, go ahead. However, if someone else is in it, make sure the other person is okay with it. Let him or her know what you plan to do with it and stick to your plan. Don't post anywhere different without his or her permission.
  2. Safety comes first. Never take a selfie in a situation that can put your life or health in danger. For example, you may think you look cool driving along the highway with the window open, your hair blowing in the breeze. If you pull out your camera to shoot a selfie, you're putting not only your own life in danger, but you're risking anyone else who just happens to be on the road.
  3. Don't succumb to bad taste for humor's sake. If you are in a situation that you think is funny, stop and consider how it will appear to others. Never take a selfie in a public restroom where someone else may be in an embarrassing position or situation.
  4. Be respectful. Be mindful of where you are. For example, if you are at a holocaust museum, taking a selfie in front of an exhibit shows a lack of respect for those whose lives were lost in this horrific era. People's emotions are still raw over what happened, and they are likely to be that way for centuries. There are places where selfies are never appropriate, including a funeral, ICU or critical care unit in a hospital, or a disaster site where people died.
  5. Show kindness. When you see someone less fortunate than you, don't stop and pose for a selfie. Instead, do something nice such as giving a blanket to a homeless man, offering to get something off a top shelf for a handicapped person, or holding a door for a young mom struggling with toddlers and packages.
  6. Offer help, not a photo. If you witness an accident or someone getting injured, call for emergency help and stay with the person. Don't whip out your cell phone and start snapping selfies as you assist. The only time you should take a picture of the situation is if it can be of some help later to show what happened. Never post photos of a tragedy or accident on social media.
  7. Don't post intimate selfie shots. They are in bad taste. It might be fun to make out with your boyfriend on the bus, but it's inappropriate to share it with the world.
  8. Don't overdo selfies on social media. If you want to snap photos of yourself waking up, eating your morning cereal, working out at the gym, walking into your cubicle, having lunch with friends, leaving work at the end of the day, and having drinks with friends, go right ahead. Just don't think everyone wants to see every single aspect of your day. Choose one good one (preferably one that is interesting to someone other than you and your mama) and post it. If you do more, people may see you as narcissistic.