Love ‘em or hate ‘em, selfies are the gold-standard of photography nowadays, and knowing how to take them can make or break your Snapchat and Instagram game. It’s not exactly the most obvious procedure, so we’ve broken down the most important considerations when it comes to taking the perfect selfie.

1. Lighting is everything.

No matter what the photo, lighting is often the deciding factor on whether a photo will be a dud or a darling. Outside tends to be better than inside as natural light is the most flattering light there is; the dream lighting is the pre-sunset magic hour. If you must take a photo inside, avoid fluorescent lighting at all costs – it’ll wash you out and make you look pale and blue. Try standing next to a window.

Whatever you do, make sure the light source is in front of you, not behind you – unless you’re going for that solar eclipse look. Oh, and don’t use your phone’s flash, or your selfie will look like a horror movie screencap.

2. Get a good angle.

Everyone has a different side and angle that looks the best for them. Find yours and work it. Accentuate your best features and distract from others by finding your best angle. A few safe bets are to hold the camera slightly above your line of vision rather than below to avoid a pig-nose and double chin, and to shoot from the side rather than directly in front of you, so as to not make your features appear flat.

3. Have some personality!

It’s not just your features that can seem flat. A nude selfie is a chance to show off who you are, so go big or go home. Not every selfie needs to be a big ol’ smile, either – especially if that’s not your style. A more coy, closed mouth smile can be quite enticing. Pretending to be angry or pouting can be adorable. Looking lost in thought can even be a great selfie. A great way to guarantee a good, authentic-looking selfie is to take the picture when you’re actually feeling something, like after surprising news or watching a funny movie.

Whatever you do, make sure that your selfie says more about you than just what you happen to look like. Show yourself off.

4. Don’t go overboard with clichés.

While participating in things like #ThrowbackThursday and other viral trends can be fun, make sure people are actually still doing them, and avoid overdone, trite selfie shtick. Overused poses like duckface or flexing won’t make for very interesting selfies and will likely get you lampooned by your followers.

Also avoid over-filtering your photos. While filters can make a picture look interesting and give your multiple selfies variety, oversaturation will just distract from the selfie. For a mix-up, try going all-natural every once in awhile.

5. Tell a story

Finally, don’t just take a selfie for a selfie’s sake. A selfie is an opportunity to tell a story to your followers about your life – if all your selfies are just you showing off, you’ll appear vain and narcissistic. Take a selfie to show off something interesting, no matter what it may be. Maybe you just got a new haircut, or want to show off a new product you just bought. Maybe you just got great news and want to make an announcement! Props are great additions to selfies, as are interesting backgrounds. Maybe the most interesting part of your selfie is that you’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, or are with family or a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.

The possibilities are endless and we could go on forever, but the moral of the story is that selfies are supposed to be interesting. If all of your Instagram posts are just you duckfacing in your bedroom, you probably won’t seem very interesting – because you probably aren’t. Let the quest for the perfect selfie push you to live your life to the fullest.